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Connacht U20 FC: Sligo impress against Roscommon

Luke Marren impressed for the Sligo footballers in their EirGrid Connacht U-20 semi-final win over Roscommon. 

Luke Marren impressed for the Sligo footballers in their EirGrid Connacht U-20 semi-final win over Roscommon. 

EirGrid Connacht GAA U-20 Football Championship Preliminary Round

Sligo 0-15, Roscommon 1-8

By Liam Maloney at Dr. Hyde Park

THIS was a tale of two halves as Connacht champions Sligo progressed to a semi-final date with Mayo but only after absorbing an impressive comeback from Roscommon at Dr Hyde Park.

Although leading 0-10 to 0-1 with 26 minutes played, Sligo were rattled by a Roscommon revival and relied on superb finisher Luke Marren, who contributed 10 of the winners’ 15 points.

Roscommon’s second-half revival was admirable and even though they got the gap down to a point they were never actually level or ahead.

Because of Sligo’s provincial breakthrough at this level last year – the first-ever U-20 title for the underachieving county – this was the first campaign that they faced as holders.

There was a new manager, too, as Paul Henry took over from Dessie Sloyan, who was at the helm for the 2022 triumph.

Paul Henry had pedigree, however, having been in charge of the Sligo team that won the Connacht GAA Minor Football Championship two years ago.

Roscommon were slight favourites for this clash – when these counties met three years ago in a provincial decider at Minor level it was the Rossies who triumphed by three points in atrocious weather conditions at the Connacht GAA Centre of Excellence at Bekan.

In perfect conditions and in front of a large attendance it was the home fans who were stunned for almost the entire first-half as Sligo dominated.

Sligo’s control began at midfield, where Canice Mulligan excelled, while their passing and movement in attack was too much for Roscommon.

The visitors established a 0-5 to 0-0 lead by the 11th minute – Luke Marren supplied three of these early scores and he would finish the first-hslf with half a dozen points to his credit.

Even when Roscommon finally got on the scoreboard with a fine point from Jack Tumulty, Sligo responded with five unanswered scores to go hold a 0-10 to 0-1 by the 26th minute.

Aside from Luke Marren’s contribution, the best Sligo point was that of wing-back Rossa Sloyan, son of Sligo legend Dessie Sloyan.

Sligo should have been further ahead with at least one goal but only a series of excellent saves from goalkeeper David Farrell kept Roscommon in contention – he saved goalbound efforts from Canice Mulligan and Daire O’Boyle.

The final minutes of the opening period brought some hope for Roscommon, who landed 1-1 to bring the gap down to a manageable five points. The crucial goal came from corner-forward Oisin Cregg.

Still, Sligo brought a five-point lead into the second-half, 0-10 to 1-2.

Roscommon were transformed, however, and their revival was led by full-forward Eoin Colleran, who scored five second-half points.

The hosts began to win possession, put pressure on Sligo and take the game to their opponents – everything they failed to do in the first-half.

Sligo only scored twice during the third quarter – both scores coming from Luke Marren – and Roscommon kept chipping away at the deficit to the extent of making it a one-point game, 0-12 to 1-8, with eight minutes of normal time left.

A big moment was a missed Roscommon goal chance when substitute Oisin Cregg pulled a shot wide in the 57th minute.

Sligo maintained their composure, despite a lot of high, dangerous deliveries into their goalmouth, and a counter-attack led to a goal chance for James Donlon – who captained Summerhill College in their Hogan Cup final at Croke Park – but his shot was deflected over by Roscommon goalkeeper David Farrell.

Sligo, who kicked the game’s last three scores, closed out the game in the five minutes of additional time to set up a provincial semi-final date in Castlebar next week.

Scorers for Roscommon: Eoin Colleran 0-6 (5f), Oisin Cregg 1-0, Jack Tumulty 0-1, Conor Hand 0-1

Scorers for Sligo: Luke Marren 0-10 (5f), James Donlon 0-2, Rossa Sloyan 0-1, Ross Chambers 0-1, Canice Mulligan 0-1

Roscommon: David Farrell; Daniel Casey, Michael Sugrue, Senan Lambe; Eoin Ward, Caelim Keogh, Colm Neary; Conor Ryan, Darragh O’Beirne; Bobby Nugent, Declan Kenny, Cian Kelly; Shane McGinley, Eoin Colleran, Jack Tumulty

Subs used: Shane Walsh for Darragh O’Beirne 23, Conor Harley for Michael Sugrue 30, Oisin Cregg for Cian Kelly h-t, Conor Hand for Jack Tumulty 45, Rory Hester for Declan Kenny 55

Sligo: Ethan Carden; Ross Chambers, Conor Johnston, Luke Casserly; Dylan Walsh, Dylan McLoughlin, Rossa Sloyan; Conor Sheridan, Canice Mulligan; Mark McDaniel, James Donlon, Ross Doherty; Luke Marren, Daire O’Boyle, Matt Henry

Subs used: Ronan Niland for Mark McDaniel 44, Dillon Walsh for Rossa Sloyan 50, Joshua Flynn for Ross Doherty 53, Ciaran O’Reilly for Daire O’Boyle 60+3

Referee: Christopher Ryan (Galway)