9 minutes: ‘Twisted blood’
It could have been a penalty for Galway, instead, an inspirational, mad point for Roscommon. Galway attacked with menace, and had claims for a penalty ruled out by referee Cassidy. No Roscommon defender was waiting around for an inquest; they got the ball out of there in jig-time. Niall Daly passed to Enda Smith, still inside his half. Enda has a hell of an engine, and when he runs direct, it’s often breathtaking. He made ground, before hitting a nice diagonal pass to Conor Cox. As ever, Cox was in front with great strength, holding off an opponent, taking possession of the spinning ball. Within seconds he had two men on him, and was boxed in like a dodgem car that has run out of free ‘road’, reverse the only option. What’s loveable about Cox is his willingness to take responsibility, to often shoot on sight. Now he brought it to a new level, and either because he had no other obvious option or because he is audacious beyond belief, this super new Rossie suddenly swivelled and arrowed an outrageous point over from an almost impossible angle. Some Galway players must have been thinking, ‘Okay, the Conor Cox hype is in fact bang on’. It was once memorably said that the Chelsea defender Ken Shellito was taken off “suffering from twisted blood” after being run ragged by George Best; it was a case of twisted blood just now for those two Galway men. “Look at that! Hello Roscommon! Hello Kerry!” Marty Morrissey exclaimed in commentary.
38 minutes: ‘A thing of beauty’
Niall Kilroy had pointed to cut Galway’s five-point half-time lead. Roscommon were playing with vigour now, back in business. A great knock-down in the middle of the field to a grateful Hubert Darcy. He threads a lovely pass to Cathal Cregg, inviting him to attack. Cregg goes off on a sumptuous solo run, and you can almost see a plot developing in his mind. Diarmuid Murtagh is gone like a greyhound ahead of Cregg. Galway are back-peddling, well aware of the danger, but struggling to cope. Cregg’s pass is perfectly timed. Over 35,000 eyes are fixed on the St. Faithleach’s man. He is cool and calm and doesn’t procrastinate. The ‘keeper is powerless as Murtagh finds a gap with a low, clever finish. Goal! A thing of beauty. To Murtagh’s right, in front of goal, Conor Cox jumps in the air and clenches his fist. Momentum changer, game on!
61 minutes: ‘The name’s Cregg…’
You can’t beat a team like Galway without putting everything on the line. Roscommon fought for every ball. They were heroic. In the last fifteen minutes or so, while Roscommon were well on top in general play, the pressure inevitably came on. Not that there was much structure to Galway’s ponderous play. At times, Galway men were just out of ideas, frustrated by Roscommon’s composure and phenomenal work rate. And things that usually work for Galway didn’t work, because of Roscommon’s work! Galway attacks kept floundering because of superb Roscommon marking, covering. One such example on 61 minutes. Several Galway passes, then Cathal Cregg gambles. A slightly loose pass is still bound for a waiting Galway player. But not if Cregg is alert, brave and quick enough. He pounces, controls the ball with his right foot, then shows all the required bravery to firstly go down for the ball, then carry it like a man possessed into incoming Galway tackles. It was inspirational…symbolising the might of the Roscommon performance in that second half. Cox shipped two tackles before being grounded for a free. Galway had been stopped in their tracks again, momentum denied to them. Roscommon were bossing them. Roscommon were in control. Cathal Cregg’s turnover was a classic. If he had paused and said ‘The name’s Cregg, Cathal Cregg’ in Bond mode, we’d have understood. But he kept going. Work to be done. We would not be beaten, we would become champions.