All Ireland SFC Qualifiers: Stylish Roscommon advance
All Ireland SFC Round Four Qualifier
ROSCOMMON 2-22 ARMAGH 1-19
By Cian O'Connell at O’Moore Park, Portlaoise
This was the day Roscommon truly delivered on the national stage to secure a much coveted berth in the last eight of the All Ireland Championship.
The prize was mighty with three more summer matches attained by a developing Roscommon outfit, who contributed handsomely to a match that will be fondly recalled.
A first half that raged from start to finish eventually ended with Roscommon departing at the break armed with a 1-11 to 0-12 advantage.
Despite the blistering heat both teams summoned dynamic footballing displays with Roscommon’s rally as the interval loomed proving to be an important burst.
By the 22nd minute Roscommon trailed by 0-9 to 0-6 against a beautifully efficient Armagh outfit, who were slick converting chances.
Andrew Murnin dashed about craving involvement and posing questions of the Roscommon defence, while at the opposite end the Murtagh brothers were prominent also.
Though Armagh were industrious Roscommon continued to battle with admirable determination and trailed by two when Enda Smith blasted a goal following a swift move.
That captured Roscommon at their best and while Murnin, who nailed four scores before the interval from play, landed a leveller Kevin McStay’s charges responded.
Diarmuid Murtagh, Enda Smith, and Ciarain Murtagh all landed fine points, but a Rory Grugan free narrowed the gap in stoppage time and the issue was delicately poised at the turnaround.
After the restart the drama continued with Roscommon clipping four of the first five points with the tempo being maintained.
Armagh had a Rory Grugan penalty saved by Colm Lavin in the 44th minute, but they managed to rattle the Roscommon net moments later.
Mark Shields, now operating inside for Armagh, was suddenly causing Roscommon bother, pinching a goal following an inviting Ryan McShane delivery.
Suddenly the gap was cut to 1-15 to 1-13, but Diarmuid Murtagh thumped over a free and Donie Smith fisted a point as Roscommon’s attack was in splendid form.
A foul on Shields enabled Niall Grimley to bring Armagh back to within three of Roscommon with 15 minutes remaining.
Diarmuid Murtagh steered Roscommon four clear, but Armagh came swinging again and brought the deficit down to the minimum as Grimley (two) and Gavin McParland raised white flags.
Under severe duress, though, Roscommon stayed composed outscoring Armagh 1-4 to 0-1 in the dying stages with Smith’s second goal decorating a memorable afternoon in Portlaoise.
Scorers for Roscommon: Enda Smith 2-1, Ciarain Murtagh 0-6 (4fs) and Diarmuid Murtagh (5fs) 0-6 each, Donie Smith and Cathal Cregg 0-3 each, Cathal Compton and Fintan Cregg 0-1 each.
Scorers for Armagh: Rory Grugan (4fs) and Niall Grimley (3fs, 145) 0-5 each, Andrew Murnin 0-4, Mark Shields 1-0, Jemar Hall, Aidan Forker, Gavin McParland, Ryan McShane, and Stephen Sheridan 0-1 each.
ROSCOMMON: Colm Lavin; David Murray, Niall McInerney, Peter Domican; John McManus, Niall Daly, Seanie McDermott; Enda Smith, Tadhg O’Rourke; Ciarain Murtagh, Niall Kilroy, Conor Devaney; Donie Smith, Diarmuid Murtagh, Cathal Cregg.
Subs: Gary Patterson for Domican (45), Cathal Compton for Enda Smith (49-54, blood), Finbar Cregg for C Murtagh (55), Cathal Compton for D Smith (58), Conor Daly for McDermott (61), Fintan Cregg for Kilroy (65), Ian Kilbride for N Daly (70+3).
ARMAGH: Blaine Hughes; Gregory McCabe, Patrick Burns, Ryan Owens; Stephen Sheridan, Brendan Donaghy, Mark Shields; Charlie Vernon, Connaire Mackin; Ryan McShane, Jemar Hall, Niall Grimley; Aidan Forker, Andrew Murnin, Rory Grugan.
Subs: Joe McElroy for McCabe (33), Ross McQuillan for Sheridan (42), Niall Rowland for Donaghy (48), Gavin McParland for Mackin (52), Jason Duffy for Hall (62), Kevin Dyas for Murnin (66).
REFEREE: Joe McQuillan (Cavan).