Devaney stars in new role!

Bonus territory as Rossies overcome gritty NUIG FBD Connacht SFL Round 2: Roscommon 1-17 NUIG 0-14

It may not have been in the overall plan, but Roscommon footballers have almost certainly qualified for their third FBD League final in a row following this hard fought six-point win against a gritty NUIG side at Ballyforan last Sunday. Only a huge defeat against Mayo next Sunday in Kiltoom and an unlikely win for Sligo IT against NUIG will prevent Roscommon meeting Galway in the final in two weeks’ time.

 This was far more like it in terms of a competitive test for Kevin McStay’s men. Roscommon were always in control of the game but they never put the students away and it took a 70th minute goal from Shane Killoran to copper fasten the victory. But NUIG were very competitive and had some excellent players in their ranks, and remember they were without probably their most accomplished performer, Damien Comer.

  Positives from a Roscommon point of view? A super performance from Conor Devaney in a new position for him at left half-back. Top class displays also from Seanie McDermott, Kevin Higgins, Donie Smith (first half) Cian Connolly and Niall Kilroy. There were some super points kicked throughout when Roscommon drove forward.

  The negatives? Roscommon kicked a total of 15 wides (10 in the first half) which would be costly against more seasoned opposition. There were a number of players on the NUIG team like Michael Daly, Owen Gallagher and Adam Gallagher who caused the Roscommon defence more than a few problems throughout. But having made 11 changes from the team that started against Sligo IT this was a very worthwhile workout and a very enjoyable game played on a perfect surface on a mild day.

  The sides were well matched in the first quarter and by the 14th minute it was 0-5 apiece with both sides scoring some excellent points. But the second quarter belonged to Roscommon and Kevin Higgins was especially prominent, scoring three excellent points from play and indeed Seanie McDermott got in on the act too landing a super point from all of 40 metres with his right foot! Owen Gallagher and Michael Daly were impressive for the students who went in five in arrears at the break. Roscommon 0-11 NUIG 0-6.

  Roscommon brought on Ciaráin Murtagh and Tadhg O’Rourke at half-time and by the 52nd minute Roscommon led by 0-16 to 0-8 and looked to be pulling away. But the students rallied and four unanswered points saw the gap down to four with 66 minutes on the clock. Roscommon sub Donal Keane stopped the rot with a good point. Then we had a bizarre score for NUIG when Roscommon goalkeeper Mark Miley fisted the ball over his own crossbar when attempting to clear. But the issue was settled in the 70th minute. It was a seven man move and Fintan Cregg and Ciaran Kilcline were involved as Shane Killoran applied the finishing touches to a fine Roscommon goal. The excellent Michael Daly (son of Galway legend Val) completed the scoring in the 4th minute of injury-time with a point from 45 metres.

  “Much more of a test today and we needed that badly,” said Roscommon manager Kevin McStay after the game. “Last week wasn’t much good in terms of learning anything. We were delighted to win it today and I think that almost certainly puts us in the final. It was a good challenge for us today and we never really put NUIG away. But that will happen when you are trying out players in different positions. We made a lot of changes today and you lose your rhythm.

  “Overall I am very happy with the older lads like Conor Devaney, Seanie McDermott and Kevin Higgins. They showed great leadership out there today. They were a great example to the younger lads which is good. We kicked a lot of wides but this is the time of year to be doing that,” he said.

  “Next Sunday (against Mayo) is a big step up again. Mayo will have a lot of their first team out and that’s the challenge that we are looking for. We are hoping to have everyone available for the game against Mayo. Sean Mullooly is the only one that is missing for Sunday so we will have a strong panel.

  “The aim is the build-up to the Tyrone match in the first round of the league. We made 11 changes from last week and we are looking at all the players to see how they are playing and every week we are learning something. It looks like we will have two more big games before the league so that’s good. NUIG were good today and they will give the Sigerson Cup a rattle if they play like they did at stages today,” he concluded.

Roscommon: Mark Miley; David Murray, Tom Fetherston, Seanie McDermott (0-1); John McManus, Niall Daly, Conor Devaney (0-2); Kevin Higgins (0-3), Cathal Shine; Shane Killoran (1-0), Niall Kilroy (0-3), Fintan Cregg; Donie Smith (0-2, frees), Kieran Kilcline (0-2), Cian Connolly (0-2). Subs: Tadhg O’Rourke for Shine (h/t), Ciaráin Murtagh (0-1, free) for Smith (h/t), Brian Murtagh for Murray (46), Ronan Stack for McManus (46), Paddy Brogan for Devaney (59), Donal Keane (0-1) for Connolly (black card, 61).

NUIG: Tadgh O’Malley; Stephen Brandon, Eoin O’Donoghue, Aaron O’Connor; Kieran Molloy, Colm Kelly, John Donohue; Matt Barrett, Enda Tierney; Stephen Conroy, Michael Daly (0-3), Adam Gallagher (0-3, sideline kick, 2 frees); Ruari Greene, Owen Gallagher (0-3), Matt McClean (0-1). Subs: David McCormack for Barrett (18), Christian Bonner for Conroy (32), Kevin Finn (0-1, free) for Kelly (41), Seamus Moriarty (0-1) for McClean (51). Also: Mark Miley (0-1)

Referee: John Glavey (Mayo)