A dignified exit

Hurlers bow out with encouraging display National Hurling League Division 2A Wicklow ………………. 3-12 Roscommon …………… 3-9 Tommy Connolly Half-way through the second half it looked like Roscommon were going to win their first league game of the season when they led Wicklow by two points with the wind at their backs, but they were unlucky in the final quarter as Wicklow snatched the vital scores to secure an unlikely victory.   A makeshift Roscommon team (now relegated) deserved to have something to show at the end of this lively encounter in Arklow. Already badly hit by injuries, they had to line out without Liam Murray and Mervyn Connaughton, who were also on the injured list. To make matters even worse Roscommon lost influential centre-back Michael Kelly half-way through the first half with a nasty looking leg injury. However Roscommon still managed to produce a spirited performance that could easily have produced a badly-needed victory.   Roscommon got off to a tonic start when Tom Reddington latched on to a long delivery from Keith McDermott to score a fine goal.   Jonathan O’Neill opened Wicklow’s account with a point from play and this was matched by a Roscommon point from Keith McDermott. Two Wicklow points then reduced the margin to the minimum.   Keith McDermott scored his second point for Roscommon, who were then rocked in the 15th minute with a fine Wicklow goal by Tommy Devereaux. Aided by the wind, Wicklow went on to score 1-6 without reply. Jonathan O’Neill scored two frees, and points followed from John Connors (2) and Eoin Mason. Then Devereaux struck for his second goal to leave Wicklow ahead by 2-9 to 1-2.   Roscommon were thrown a couple of lifelines before half-time. First, substitute Alan Kelly scored a goal after Tom Reddington’s shot was saved. Then Wicklow’s Joe Murphy was sent off to reduce the home team to 14 players and having to face the wind in the secoind half. Then Gerry Fallon scored a fine point to further reduce the margin at half-time.   Roscommon played their best hurling in the third quarter. Shane Sweeeney sent over two points, the second a free and then Keith McDermott scored two excellent points to reduce the margin to two points and then the margin was down to a point when Tom Reddington scored another fine point. Then in the 15th minute, Reddington was fouled in the penalty area and Gerry Fallon crashed the resultant penalty to the Wicklow net to leave Roscommon leading by two points.    A win was now on the cards but sadly it was not to be. Six minutes later a harmless cross in by Denis Moran was not dealt with properly by the Roscommon defence and sub Shane Byrne scored a soft Wicklow goal. Two further points from Adrian Shanahan put them into a three-point lead. Then Roscommon’s Kevin Conneally and Wicklow’s Geoffrey Birmingham were both shown red cards for an off-the-ball incident.   Roscommon piled on the pressure in the last 10 minutes but they only had one point from play to show for their efforts, from Brendan Kelly. They had other chances but it was Wicklow’s Dennis Kelly who completed the scoring with a point from play on the call of full-time.   So it’s Division 3B hurling for Roscommon next season. However there was plenty of hope for the future in this excellent performance. They have a good break now until June to re-group, clear up the injury list and get set for the Christy Ring Cup. Roscommon: David Connell; Enda Morris, Colm Moran, Michael Keaveney; David Loughnane, Michael Kelly, Brendan Kelly (0-1); David Delaney, Gerry Fallon (1-1); Tom Reddington (1-1), Keith McDermott (0-4), Alan Creavin; Shane Curley, Kevin Conneally, Shane Sweeney (0-2). Sub: Alan Kelly (1-0) for M Kelly.  Wicklow: K Burns; M Collins, G Keogh, S Kelly; E O’Neill, C Ryan, T Devereaux (2-0); J O’Neill (0-3), G Bermingham (0-1); E Kearns, J Murphy (0-2), J Connors (0-2); E Mason (0-1), A Shanahan (0-2), E Furlong. Subs: S Byrne (1-0) for Mason, D Moran (0-1) for Furlong.  Referee: F. Devereaux (Kildare).