‘Future is bright’ for young hurlers as All-Ireland bid just fall short

All-Ireland U-20B Hurling Championship (Richie McElligott Cup)

Down 2-15 Roscommon 0-15

Pic: Bernie O’Farrell

Roscommon manager Michael Fallon deemed the season a success for his charges, but rued a number of missed goal opportunities in their All-Ireland final defeat to Down at an overcast Kingspan Breffni Park on Saturday last.

Adam Donnelly (Four Roads)

  “We had lots of chances in the first half and we should really have been a lot more ahead and that came to catch us in the end. In an All-Ireland final, you have to be taking all your chances,” he said. “We knew what to expect from Down and we prepared for it, but maybe if you look at some of the games we played (in the run to the final), we probably needed them at a higher level”.

  Despite last Saturday’s defeat, Fallon believes the future is bright for this young team: “We have to stay working with them as a county. We have an extremely young team. Some of the bigger counties can afford to have more players in their final year (of U-20 grade) and that always makes a difference”.

James Mannion (Four Roads) in action.

  It just wasn’t to be for this promising young team last Saturday, as a disappointing second half saw them let slip a four-point lead, and goals from Michael Dorrian and Oisín Coulter meant the Richie McElligott Cup was heading to the Mourne County for 2022.

  Fallon’s charges had played well in the first half, and deservedly led by 0-9 to 0-7 at the break – thanks in the main to Patrick Fallon’s accuracy from the dead ball. Fallon had six points on the board at this stage (all frees), while Mikey Lohan, Ryan Conlon and Adam Donnelly had chipped in from play.

  The second half started brightly, with further points from Lohan and Fallon, but went awry shortly after. Roscommon were not helped by the sending off of corner-back Ben Kelly, just eleven minutes after the break. Down had already overturned Roscommon’s half-time lead by this stage, thanks to Dorrian’s goal nine minutes in and points from Dorrian and James Duggan (two frees).

Micheál Hussey (Oran) fully concentrated on the job.

  It was to get worse for Roscommon 51 minutes in, as Coulter’s emphatic finish from the edge of the large square capped a fine Down move. The Ulster side weren’t to be denied after that, and kicked for home thanks to points from Eoin Pucci, Dorrian and Duggan.

  There was still time for a Roscommon consolation goal but the last action of an entertaining game saw Cathal Lavery saving brilliantly from Patrick Fallon’s well-struck penalty and the Richie McElligott Cup was raised to the overcast Cavan sky by Down captain Lukas Boyd.

Roscommon: M Corcoran; J Dillon, T Tiernan, B Kelly; J Mannion, N Coyle, M Hussey; J Dowling, M Lohan (0-3); P Fallon (0-9, all frees), E Kiernan (0-1), M Brennan; R Conlon (0-1), A Donnelly (0-1), F Killion. Subs used: T Fallon for Killion (21 mins), C Mulry for Brennan (34 mins), D Finneran for Donnelly (55 mins).

Down: C Lavery; J Higgins, D Mallon, E Pucci (0-3, 1 free); R Convery, L Boyd, C Milligan; O McDermott, A Furlong; E Bell, J Duggan (0-5, 3 frees), M Dorrian (1-3); C Savage, O Coulter (1-3), F Turpin (0-1). Subs used: R O’Neill for Mallon (3 mins, temporary sub), S Milligan for Bell (40 mins), R O’Neill for McDermott (44 mins), E Magee for Savage (55 mins), R Corcoran for Coulter (59 mins).

Referee: Tarlach Conway (Derry)

Stat Attack

Wides: Roscommon 7 (4, first half); Down 8 (5, first half)
Yellow cards: Roscommon 1 (Ben Kelly (2); Down 2 (Sean Milligan, Aodhan Furlong)
Black cards: 0
Red cards: Roscommon 1 (Ben Kelly, 41 mins); Down 0