Connacht SFC: Devaney bags brace in Roscommon triumph
Connacht Senior Football Championship Semi-Final
Roscommon 2-23 Leitrim 1-9
By Kevin Egan at Dr Hyde Park
Roscommon easily put the disappointment of relegation from the top flight of the Allianz Football League behind them this afternoon when they put Leitrim to the sword with an assured display of all out attacking football at Dr. Hyde Park.
Roscommon’s two goals arrived courtesy of the impressive Conor Devaney in the first half.
It was a measure of Roscommon’s commitment to pushing up and exerting real pressure on the Leitrim backline that Devaney, though officially lined out at wing back, spent most of his time in the Leitrim half of the field, where he had a significant influence on the game.
An 11-week gap since their last competitive fixture didn’t impede Roscommon in the slightest as they hit the ground running at their home venue, winning a tap over free in with the first play of the game and quickly building on that score to establish a four point advantage after just five minutes.
In every facet of play, the Rossies were superior. They snuffed out Leitrim on the rare occasions that the visitors forayed past half way, they controlled the restarts with some good catches from Enda Smith and Tadhg O’Rourke, while their inside forwards were prominent too.
Powerful and purposeful lateral runs from Donie Smith and the Murtagh brothers opened up good avenues for Roscommon’s ball carriers to hit with direct deliveries.
With Leitrim gasping for air right from the start, Brendan Guckian’s side got a real oxygen boost in the sixth minute with their first possession anywhere close to the Roscommon goal. A swift attacking move saw the ball passed through Ryan O’Rourke and Conor Gaffney into the hands of Darragh Rooney, and the Melvin Gaels man produced a superb finish, picking out the bottom corner with a powerful drive.
Though the Leitrim crowd were in full voice in response to this score, their team quickly found themselves fighting fires once again and Roscommon soon had them right back on their heels with excellent points from Fintan Cregg and Niall Kilroy, before man of the match Enda Smith burst forward and drew a fine save from Brendan Flynn, only for the rebound to fall perfectly for Devaney to blast the ball into an empty net.
From a defensive point of view, Leitrim improved in the second quarter and conceded just three scores, though one of those was a second Devaney goal from close range. However, they made no impression at the other end of the field and trailed by 2-9 to 1-2 at the interval.
And just as they had done in the first half, Roscommon burst out of the blocks after half time and picked off a series of scores. Diarmuid Murtagh was excellent and he fired over points from all angles, while his brother Ciaráin was also unlucky not to register a goal when his penalty – awarded for a foul by Michael McWeeney on Brian Stack – grazed the crossbar on the way over for a point.
Darragh Rooney, substitute Ronan Kennedy and Shane Moran continued to work hard in the Leitrim forward line, but they were living off scraps, while at the other end of the field Roscommon continued to pick off points with ease.
Roscommon manager Kevin McStay expressed some concern in advance of this game about how little his substitutes were contributing off the bench and he’ll be somewhat worried that he didn’t get more of an impact from those players he brought on, but otherwise the ex-Mayo attacker can be very happy with a solid performance ahead of what should be a much tougher test against Galway in the Connacht Final.
Scorers for Roscommon: D Murtagh 0-7 (1f), C Devaney 2-1, Ciaran Murtagh 0-4 (3fs, 0-1 pen), E Smith 0-3, F Cregg and B Stack 0-2 each, D Smith, N Kilroy, C Connolly and S Killoran 0-1 each.
Scorers for Leitrim: D Rooney 1-2, K Beirne 0-3 (1f), R Kennedy 0-2, D Moran and B Gallagher 0-1 each.
ROSCOMMON: C Lavin; G Patterson, J McManus, N McInerney; S McDermott, S Mullooly, C Devaney; E Smith, T O’Rourke; F Cregg, N Kilroy, B Stack; C Murtagh, D Murtagh, D Smith
Subs: C Connolly for Smith (14 – bc), C Compton for Connolly (45), R Stack for Kilroy (45), S Killoran for Patterson (48), B Murtagh for B Stack (60), T Featherston for C Murtagh (65).
LEITRIM: B Flynn; N Plunkett, D Wrynn, P Maguire; J Rooney, M McWeeney, O Madden; S Moran, D Moran; D McGovern, C Gaffney, R O’Rourke; K Beirne, B Gallagher, D Rooney.
Subs: N McGovern for D Moran (35+3 – bc), R Kennedy for D McGovern (35+6), G Reynolds for McWeeney (45 – bc), C Cullen for O’Rourke (47), R Gallagher for Wrynn (58), G Plunkett for Gallagher (67).
REFEREE: Anthony Nolan (Wicklow).