Allianz National Football League Division One (Round 3)
On another dramatic afternoon at Dr. Hyde Park a point out of this highly charged and very competitive clash is a very satisfactory outcome. But it could have been another sensational win for Anthony Cunningham’s men. In the 5th minute of injury-time Roscommon were awarded a 20-metre free. A point would have won the game, but referee Noel Mooney of Cavan consulted with his umpires and as a result of a clash between Ultan Harney and Niall Morgan the Tyrone goalkeeper, the decision was changed, the ball was thrown up, and the final whistle was sounded. A share of the spoils was the outcome.
It was that close, but this was another display from Roscommon to warm the cockles of the heart. The Primrose and Blue scored their entire total of 1-10 from play. They scored seven points on the bounce in the final 15 minutes of the first half and some of those scores were delightful efforts from a variety of players. The half-time lead of 0-10 to 0-4 did not flatter the home side but having played with the aid of the strong wind they knew at the break that they would need every one of those scores as the Tyrone onslaught was expected, and arrived too.
The second half display from Roscommon wasn’t near as assured as that of the opening period. Possession was squandered on numerous occasions by the home players and Tyrone came back into the game. But Roscommon’s only second half score, Ultan Harney’s fisted goal in the 43rd minute, was to prove crucial in the end.
Tyrone chipped away at the Roscommon lead, and when Cathal McShane fisted their goal in the 50th minute the lead was down to three. The magnificent Niall Morgan (2) and Darren McCurry pointed to level the scores but Roscommon’s battling qualities came to the fore once again as they fought tooth and nail to hold on to their position.
David Murray was everywhere, sub Aengus Lyons came on and made an incredible interception, Evan McGrath and David Murray fought like tigers. It was stirring stuff. Roscommon were hanging on but working incredibly hard. Tyrone had three late chances that went abegging but Roscommon simply would not relent. In fact, that late free could have given them a dramatic last-gasp winner, but on the overall balance of play it was probably a fair result.
It was a pity that the decision to award the last free was changed and hopefully Ultan Harney will learn his lesson from that incident. The Clann na nGael man was having another great game and is one of our best players at the moment. It was a moment of foolishness but I wouldn’t be too hard on him. He will learn from it and will have many more good days in the Roscommon senior jersey.
Overall, to have three points from our opening three games in this division is a fantastic return and a great tribute to the hard work of the players and management since the start of the year. There is much more still to be done but another win would put Roscommon within touching distance of survival in Division One and that would be a phenomenal achievement.
On Sunday it was once again a display of incredible courage, determination, and will to win. In the absence of Niall Daly (who had the flu), David Murray took over the leadership role in the defence and was superb. Evan McGrath and Conor Hussey were also heroic at the back.
Enda Smith had a great game at midfield and made some great runs all through and especially towards the end of the game when the pressure was on. Conor Cox looked the part once again and he kicked some great points in the first half. Unless he was injured it was strange to see him taken off in the second half as he was always a threat. Shane Killoran and Ultan Harney also put in huge shifts while Donie Smith covered acres of ground.
Next up it’s a visit to Breffni Park on Sunday week. It’s a game that Roscommon are well capable of winning but they will have to display the same work ethic and determination as we have seen on the last two Sundays if they are to take the two points. But once again it’s fair to remark that Roscommon’s transformation in terms of their defensive solidity in two short months has been remarkable. Long may it continue.
Roscommon: Darren O’Malley; David Murray, Conor Daly (0-1), Evan McGrath; Conor Devaney, Conor Hussey, Ronan Daly (0-1); Tadgh O’Rourke, Enda Smith; Shane Killoran (0-2), Ultan Harney (1-1), Niall Kilroy (0-1); Conor Cox (0-3), Donie Smith (0-1), Cathal Cregg. Subs: Colin Compton for Cregg (53), Gary Patterson for Kilroy (56), Hubert Darcy for O’Rourke (63), Aengus Lyons for Cox (69).
Tyrone: Niall Morgan (0-3, 2 frees); Rory Brennan, Ronan McNamee (0-1) Ciaran McLaughlin; Tiernan McCann, Ben McDonnell, Michael McKernan; Brian Kennedy, Padraig Hampsey; Peter Harte (0-5, frees), Niall Sludden, Kieran McGarry; Mattie Donnelly, Cathal McShane (1-0), Darren McCurry (0-1). Subs: Conor Meyler for McLaughlin (27), Hugh Pat McGeary for R McNamee (31), Kyle Coney for Sludden (40), Harry Loughran for McDonnell (50), Frank Burns for Brennan (59).
Referee: Noel Mooney (Cavan)