Allianz National Football League Division 2

Roscommon 1-12 Cavan 0-13




Roscommon footballers turned in another superb display last Saturday when they deservedly defeated Cavan and secured promotion to Division One for next season in a very entertaining contest played at Kingspan Breffni Park.

Roscommon bossed the game from the throw-in, and although it took a while for their superiority to be reflected on the scoreboard, they were cruising coming towards the end of the third quarter when Enda Smith’s goal put them six points ahead. Cavan improved towards the end of the game but Roscommon saw out the win comfortably, something which will give them a huge boost ahead of the Connacht semi-final against Leitrim or Mayo on Sunday week.

On a cold, crisp, but dry day and under the temporary management of Iain Daly, a much-changed Roscommon began the match on the front foot. Enda Smith and Tadhg O’Rourke were dominating at midfield, while up front, Cian McKeon, Ciarain Murtagh and the outstanding Donie Smith were always a threat.

In defence, Fergal Lennon and David Neary – both drafted into the team on the day – were superb, and with Sean Mullooly taking up where he left off the previous week against Armagh, the last line of defence looked rock-solid. A word too for Cathal Cregg who acquitted himself very well at centre half-back. Roscommon have now gone six competitive games without conceding a goal. It’s a tribute to the great work being carried out in the background by the players and management.

It was heartwarming to see every Roscommon player working so hard, and as the game wore on it was clear that every man in a Primrose and Blue jersey was fiercely determined not to let the side down. Other results might have gone their way, but the Roscommon players were determined to secure promotion without any outside help – and they delivered in style.

Despite Roscommon dominating possession, the sides were level at three points apiece after 20 minutes. Donie Smith with a ’45 and a free, and a trademark point from distance from Diarmuid Murtagh, were the Roscommon scores. Cavan were playing with a very strong breeze at their backs but the very impressive Roscommon full-back line was mopping up any potential threat.

Roscommon scored three points without reply from Donie Smith (two frees) and a Finbar Cregg fisted effort, establishing a lead that they never lost. A Cormac Reilly point for Cavan narrowed the gap, but Roscommon finished the half the better side.

In the 28th minute Donie Smith had a great goal chance, but Raymond Galligan saved well. A minute later Smith raced in on goal again, settling for a fisted point. At half-time Roscommon supporters would have been well pleased with the efforts of their side, as they led by 0-7 to 0-4, with the aid of the breeze to come in the second half.

Roscommon began the second half well. Ciarain Murtagh pointed from 30 metres in the first minute, and although the home side replied with a fine point from distance from Gearoid McKiernan, the visitors were always in command.

Cathal Cregg sallied upfield in the 39th minute to put the finishing touches to a fine team score, and when Ciarain Murtagh landed a free in the 41st minute, the Rossies led by five. Points from subs Oisin Pierson and Luke Fortune kept Cavan ticking over, but in the 46th minute Roscommon got in for the goal their enterprising play deserved.

After the ball broke in the middle of the field, Donie Smith made tracks toward goal. He flicked a pass to Cian McKeon who in turn floated the ball into the path of the inrushing Enda Smith, who palmed the ball to the Cavan net. It was now 1-10 to 0-7 to Roscommon and they were full value for that six-point margin.

Having put in such an effort it was understandable that Roscommon began to tire and that Cavan would come more into the game. The home side kicked three points without reply, narrowing the gap to three by the 58th minute. Indeed they did have a goal chance in the 64th minute, but sub Stephen Smith was wide from close range.

In those final minutes Roscommon kept their composure and man of the match Donie Smith kicked two wonderful points in the 59th and 69th minutes, both from very difficult angles, to keep his side ahead. It was a fantastic return to form for the Boyle man who was back to his best last Saturday.

What a pity that Roscommon’s fantastic, loyal supporters were not there to share in the moment when Roscommon secured this title. (Thankfully they were able to see events unfold on TG4). Next up is the Connacht Championship and that eagerly-awaited meeting with Mayo.

Roscommon: Colm Lavin; Fergal Lennon, Sean Mullooly, David Neary; Padraig Scott, Cathal Cregg (0-1), Conor Devaney; Enda Smith (1-0), Tadhg O’Rourke; Niall Kilroy, Cian McKeon, Finbar Cregg (0-1); Donie Smith (0-7, 3f, ‘45), Diarmuid Murtagh (0-1), Ciarain Murtagh (0-2, 1 f). Subs: Hubert Darcy for F Cregg (45), Ultan Harney for McKeon (47), Henry Walsh for Devaney (47), Andrew Glennon for D Murtagh (60), Jack Casey for C Cregg (68).

Cavan: Raymond Galligan (0-1, f); Jason McLoughlin, Killian Brady, Killian Clarke; Gerard Smith, Chris Conroy (0-1), Ciaran Brady (0-2); Gearoid McKiernan (0-1), Padraig Faulkner; Oisin Kiernan (0-1), Martin Reilly (0-1), Cormac O’Reilly (0-2); James Smith (0-1), Conor Madden, Niall Murray. Subs: Oisin Pierson (0-2, 1 f) for Murray (29 mins), Luke Fortune (0-1) for K Brady (h/t), Stephen Smith for Conroy (42), Thomas Galligan for Madden (47), Oisin Brady for C. O’Reilly (60).

Referee: Sean Hurson (Tyrone).