Allianz FL D2: Roscommon earn important win
Allianz Football League Division Two
ROSCOMMON 1-8 CLARE 0-4
By Kevin Egan at Dr Hyde Park
Storm Ciara blew Roscommon’s League campaign back on course as they produced a far more balanced and efficient performance than Clare in windy, but otherwise reasonable conditions at the Connacht venue.
As with most games played this afternoon, the breeze was a huge factor and an 0-6 to 0-0 lead at the break felt like just about enough, but not a lot more from a Roscommon point of view. Add in a second yellow card for Niall Daly, and Clare would have felt like this game was still there to be won, even though they got through the entire first half without registering a shot on goal.
Anthony Cunningham’s side have spent most of the last few seasons competing with the best of opposition in League and Championship however, and all that experience and guile came to the fore in the third quarter when they managed the game brilliantly. Aside from one kickout from Colm Lavin that didn’t travel far enough to be legal, they retained every one of their own restarts, and the ball retention was simply superb.
The home side showed incredible patience in possession, calmly working the ball around in their own half before players like Brian Stack, Conor Daly and Enda Smith injected pace into proceedings at key times. Crucially, they held Clare scoreless until the 16th minute of the second half, and it was stoppage time before the Banner county added another score.
After coughing up six-point leads against Laois and Fermanagh in recent weeks, Roscommon supporters might have been nervous when two frees and a punched point from Jack Morrissey cut the gap back to four, but with the last attack of the game Hubert Darcy found Noel Gately with a great 30-metre pass and after a scramble close to goal, Gately finished off a simple tap in. This added a touch of gloss to the scoreline, not to mention giving Roscommon’s scoring difference a boost in what’s likely to be the most closely-fought of all four Allianz League divisions.
Efficiency was key for the Rossies in the first half. Clare owned the ball for five of the first six minutes, and yet the only scores on the board were points from Brian Stack and Cathal Cregg for the home side. Cian McKeon added a free but Roscommon’s main strength was on the defensive side, where a huge number of turnovers won (nine in their own half of the field in their first half alone) kept Clare at bay. Most significant was a diving interception from Colm Lavin that prevented what would have been a tap in goal for Keelan Sexton.
Even after Niall Daly’s red card, Roscommon kept on top of the game and added more points to lead by six at half time, tacking on another from a Cian McKeon free. In terms of possession and control however, they completely controlled the tie and starved Clare’s dangermen like David Tubridy, Sexton and Eoin Cleary of possession.
One free from Tubridy was all Clare could muster until stoppage time, while a magnificent score from Enda Smith – coming at the end of a fast break out of defence led by Brian Stack and Conor Daly – summed up Roscommon’s performance.
A black card for midfielder Ciarán Russell was a further blow to the Banner County and while the Éire Óg player came back on the field, he was off again almost immediately after an altercation with Mark Richardson led to a red from referee Derek O’Mahoney.
A disappointing end to a disappointing afternoon for the visitors, as they sustain a second defeat and drop down into the bottom half of the table. For Roscommon, they’ll hope this was a first step back towards competing with the big guns again.
Scorers for Roscommon: Cian McKeon 0-3 (3fs), Noel Gately 1-0, Cathal Cregg 0-2, Brian Stack, Ciarán Lennon and Enda Smith 0-1 each.
Scorers for Clare: David Tubridy 0-2 (2fs) Eoin Cleary (f) andJack Morrissey 0-1 each.
ROSCOMMON: Colm Lavin; Conor Daly, David Murray, Mark Richardson; Richard Hughes, Brian Stack, Niall Daly; Tadhg O’Rourke, Enda Smith; Niall Kilroy, Cathal Cregg, Hubert Darcy; Donie Smith, Ciarán Lennon, Cian McKeon.
Subs: Noel Gately for D Smith (33), Eddie Nolan for O’Rourke (half time), Finbar Cregg for C Cregg (66), Conor Hussey for Lennon (68, temporary), Hussey for Hughes (70+1).
CLARE: Stephen Ryan; Gordon Kelly, Cillian Brennan, Kevin Harnett; Dean Ryan, Pearse Lillis, Cian O’Dea; Ciarán Russell, Cathal O’Connor; Sean Collins, David Tubridy, Dermot Coughlan; Gearóid O’Brien, Eoin Cleary, Keelan Sexton.
Subs: Jack Morrissey for O’Brien (50), Alan Sweeney for Ryan (55), Dale Masterson for O’Connor (61), Emmet McMahon for Sexton (66).
REFEREE: Derek O’Mahoney (Tipperary).