Kepak Roscommon SHC Final
Four Roads 1-19
Four Roads returned to the top of the club hurling order of merit in Roscommon with a commanding performance against old rivals Athleague in Athleague last Sunday. Having lost three finals in a row, Joe Mannion’s men were in no mood to add to that tale of woe, and they set about their task with determination and no little skill from the throw-in, emerging as deserving winners.
The deposed champions Athleague battled away, and if they had taken a couple of the goal chances that came their way in the middle of the second half, they might have been closer. But in truth, Four Roads were on top for most of the game and they played the better hurling all through.
With Jamie Lawlor, Johnny Moran and Micheal Kelly majestic in defence, Athleague were restricted in attack. Shane Curley and Conor Coyle were on top in midfield while up front Cathal Dolan, Noel Fallon and Brendan Mulry were sharp throughout. But it was Padraig Kelly who was sharpest of all. The dual star covered acres of ground and scored five tremendous points from play in a brilliant individual display.
On a beautiful evening for hurling, both sides made a tentative start and the first score of the game was a goal for Four Roads in the fifth minute. Brendan Mulry did the spadework and James Cunniffe finished well. Cathal Dolan and Eamon Flanagan swapped points before Dolan (2) and Padraig Kelly points made it 1-4 to 0-1 it by the 12th minute.
Eamon Flanagan’s accuracy from the placed ball kept Athleague in the game and some very good defensive work from Alan Moore, Gary Fallon and Pat Nolan kept the Four Roads attack somewhat in check. Flanagan was always a threat and his rasping shot from 25 metres struck the angle of post and crossbar in the 25th minute. Athleague needed that goal but it was not to be.
Then in first-half stoppage time Noel Fallon was in for a second Four Roads goal but David Connell made a superb save and by the half-time break it was Four Roads 1-7 Athleague 0-5.
In fairness to Athleague, they kept battling away but Four Roads could always keep them at arm’s length. The Tisrara men introduced Johnny Coyne on the re-start and the ace marksman only took two minutes to register his first point. But points from Flanagan, Ben McGahon and Cormac Kelly kept Athleague in the game in the third quarter.
Three points on the spin from Noel Fallon (2) and Padraig Kelly saw the gap open up to eight points by the 45th minute. Then Eamon Flanagan poked home a goal from close-range after a goalmouth skirmish and Athleague were back to within striking distance.
For a couple of minutes Athleague were on top but crucially they missed goal chances, as first Robbie Fallon and then Cian Murray were guilty of poor decision making in front of goal.
Four Roads took over completely after that and they tacked on six points without reply to run out the easy winners. Padraig Kelly scored two beauties, Shane Curley and Johnny Coyne also adding to the Four Roads total with excellent efforts from play.
Athleague tried hard to the end but there was no denying this well-coached and well prepared Four Roads side on the day and it’s the Black and Amber who bring the Mickey Cunniffe Cup back to the village for the winter. It’s like it’s never been away!
Four Roads: David Dowd; Cormac Coyle, Jamie Lawlor, Martin McLoughlin; Johnny Moran, Micheal Kelly, Jack Donnelly; Shane Curley (0-1), Conor Coyle; Cathal Dolan (0-9, 5 frees), Noel Fallon (0-2), Padraig Kelly (0-5); Andy Lawlor, Brendan Mulry, James Cunniffe (1-0). Subs: Johnny Coyne (0-2) for Andy Lawlor (h/t), Diarmuid Treacy for Cunniffe (52), Donal Kelly for Donnelly (55), James Fitzmaurice for Fallon (58), Mark McLouglin for Martin McLoughlin (61).
Athleague: David Connell; David Delaney, Alan Moore, Aaron Donnelly; Niall Connolly, Gary Fallon, Pat Nolan; Darragh Heavey, Cormac Kelly (0-1); David Flaherty, Ben McGahon (0-1), Stephen Kilcommins; Cian Murray (0-1), Eamon Flanagan (1-5, 3 frees, ’65), Robbie Fallon. Eoghan Coyle for Kilcommons (h/t), Thomas Clatyon for Donnelly (39), Paul Flaherty for McGahon and Tomas Connaughton for C Murray (53).
Referee: Christy Browne (Ballygar)