Connacht SFC: Roscommon cruise to victory
Connacht Senior Football Championship Quarter-Final
ROSCOMMON 3-17 Leitrim 0-12
By Kevin Egan at Dr Hyde Park
The story of this weekend in the football championship was that of Division One and Division Two counties being pushed to the pin of their collar by less-fancied opponents, but Roscommon certainly didn’t fall into that trap at Dr. Hyde Park as they went for blood early and often against Leitrim, firing in three first half goals to set up a comfortable win.
Leitrim’s superb spring campaign that brought them all the way to Croke Park suggested that this might be a lot more competitive than the championship meetings over the last three seasons, which ended in 14, 17, and 13-point wins for Roscommon. That all counted for nothing at Dr Hyde Park as Roscommon attacked Leitrim’s goal right from the start, creating seven first half goal chances and hitting the net through Shane Killoran (twice) and Niall Kilroy.
The half time score of 3-6 to 0-7 might have suggested that at nine scores to seven, the game was relatively even except for Roscommon’s finishing. In truth, it would be fairer to say that Roscommon were dominant and if they chose to take handy points, instead of going for goals, they would have easily got up into double scores and beyond.
Leitrim manager Terry Hyland said after the game that his team identified Shane Moran as a possible weapon who might have the ability to hurt Roscommon’s full back line and they tried to exploit the Ballinamore man’s height and power early, but while it was easy to see why Hyland chose this approach, it didn’t quite bear the fruit it might have deserved. Darren O’Malley blocked a goalbound shot from Moran off the first attack, Raymond Mulvey fisted the ball wide from 12 metres out when Moran set him up off another high ball, and outside of that Roscommon erred on the side of conceding the free rather than allowing Moran to develop the play.
At the other end, Roscommon’s tactic was to burst into the tackle, run in straight lines towards the whites of Cathal McCrann’s eyes, and they made it count. McCrann produced one of the best saves anyone could hope to see to deny Ultan Harney but he could do nothing to prevent Killoran and Kilroy from rattling twine, all three scores the result of hard runs through the heart of the defence that broke tackles.
Leitrim used four substitutes by the 45th minute and they played some of their best football in the early part of the second half, but they still failed to make it count on the scoreboard to the degree that was required. Kilroy, who put in a tireless performance, blocked a Pearce Dolan shot that might have reduced the gap to five, and from there the superior conditioning and depth of Roscommon started to tell a tale.
A second yellow card for Shane Quinn reduced Leitrim to 14 men to make life even more difficult for them, and the gulf in depth was illustrated by the scoring contributions of Fintan Cregg, Andy Glennon, Colin Compton and Cathal Heneghan off the bench, who between them chipped in with seven points to guarantee a fourth landslide win for the Rossies over their neighbours in four seasons.
Scorers for Roscommon: Shane Killoran 2-0, Conor Cox 0-5 (2fs), Niall Kilroy 1-1, Diarmuid Murtagh 0-3 (2fs), Andrew Glennon (1f), Colin Compton (1f), Fintan Cregg (1f) 0-2 each, Darren O’Malley (’45) and Cathal Heneghan 0-1 each.
Scorers for Leitrim: Ryan O’Rourke 0-5 (5fs), Domhnaill Flynn 0-4 (4fs), Pearce Dolan, Raymond Mulvey, and Shane Quinn 0-1 each.
ROSCOMMON: Darren O’Malley; Conor Daly, Seán Mullooly, David Murray; Niall Daly, Conor Hussey, Ronan Daly; Shane Killoran, Tadhg O’Rourke; Hubert Darcy, Cathal Cregg, Niall Kilroy; Diarmuid Murtagh, Conor Cox, Ultan Harney.
Subs: Fintan Cregg for O’Rourke (37), Colin Compton for C Cregg (46), Conor Devaney for Darcy (48), Andrew Glennon for Murtagh (53, black card), Cathal Heneghan for Cox (61), Brian Stack for R Daly (64), Caoileann Fitzmaurice for Killoran (69, temp).
LEITRIM: Cathal McCrann; Michael McWeeney, Paddy Maguire, Conor Reynolds; Domhnaill Flynn, Seán McWeeney, Shane Quinn; Mark Plunkett, Fergal McTague; Raymond Mulvey, Ryan O’Rourke, Pearce Dolan; Evan Sweeney, Shane Moran, Gary Plunkett.
Subs: Dean McGovern for McTague (21), Jack Heslin for Sweeney (39), Aidan Flynn for Dolan 43), Emlyn Mulligan for G Plunkett (45), Nicholas McWeeney for Flynn (70), Oisín Madden for S McWeeney (70).
REFEREE: Sean Hurson (Tyrone)