Goals vital as Tribesmen retain title

FBD Connacht SF League Final: Galway 2-14 Roscommon 0-15

Another good display from Roscommon, but another losing one, as Galway retained their title in this highly competitive and entertaining final played in Kiltoom last Sunday. Goals were decisive for Galway, but there were positives and negatives for both sides as they look ahead to the start of the season proper on Sunday.

  Roscommon once again played very well at times and particularly in attack, but the team are coughing up possession far too easily and it is leading to a lot of needless scores being conceded. It is something that they will have to address ahead of what is sure to be a very tough league campaign, which starts in Omagh this Sunday.

  Ultan Harney was very impressive at full-forward and he battled hard all through. Donie Smith put in another super display and he kicked some excellent points. Cian Connolly was also impressive up front in the first half. Thomas Corcoran and Tadhg O’Rourke also did well at midfield at times. Further back Ronan Stack turned in probably his best display in a Roscommon jersey. Seanie McDermott was also impressive while Tom Fetherston and Niall McInerney had their moments although Barry McHugh and Danny Cummins got some vital scores for Galway throughout. But there is plenty of food for thought as the selectors ponder a starting line-up to take on Tyrone on Sunday.

  Last Sunday, Roscommon led by three points twice during the opening 14 minutes with Donie Smith (2, 1 free), Cian Connolly, Fintan Cregg, and Ciaráin Murtagh on target. Barry McHugh’s point in the 16th minute was followed three minutes later by a crucial Galway goal. Roscommon should have been awarded a free in the build-up but Galway swept downfield and after Paul Conroy and Sean Armstrong were involved in the move, Cillian McDaid shot past Darren O’Malley and the Tribesmen never lost the lead after that.

  Roscommon had further points from Ciaráin Murtagh (free), a wonderful right footed effort from distance from Seanie McDermott and a lovely Donie Smith effort before half-time. But Galway were dangerous when on the attack, and Barry McHugh (2) and Gareth Bradshaw points saw the score Galway 1-8 Roscommon 0-8 at half-time.

  Donie Smith and Cillian McDaid exchanged points on the resumption before the crucial second Galway goal arrived in the 43rd minute. Tom Flynn made a great run but his shot was blocked, however the rebound fell to Danny Cummins who shot low and hard to the Roscommon net. The gap was now six points but Roscommon battled away. Three Donie Smith points in a row (one a beauty with his right foot) saw the gap back to three by the 53rd minute. Then, with 14 minutes to go, Galway’s Declan Kyne was sent off for a second yellow card offence but the Tribesmen were never in danger of losing. Barry McHugh pointed a ’45 before Roscommon had a great goal chance when Enda Smith’s effort was well saved by Rory Lavelle.

  Substitute Niall Kilroy’s free in the 64th minute was brief respite for Roscommon as Galway hit back with points from Danny Cummins, the outstanding Johnny Heaney, and Barry McHugh. Another Roscommon sub, Conor Devaney pointed in the 70th minute and in injury-time Gary O’Donnell and Kevin Higgins exchanged points.

  It’s not the end of the world to lose this final as the real action begins for Kevin McStay and his men next weekend with a very tough trip to Omagh. But to lose a final to their Connacht rivals is not ideal preparation for the season ahead. On this showing Galway were impressive and Kevin Walsh is certainly building a very strong squad. They start their league campaign against Cork on Sunday and they are sure to be a major factor in the championship later in the year.

  Referee Liam Devaney from Mayo had a poor enough outing and both sides were frustrated at a number of baffling decisions throughout.

Galway: Rory Lavelle; Liam Burke, David Walsh, Declan Kyne; Gary O’Donnell (0-2), Gareth Bradshaw, Johnny Heaney (0-3); Fintain O Curraoin, Michael Day; Tom Flynn (0-1), Paul Conroy, Cillian McDaid (1-1); Danny Cummins (1-1,1free), Barry McHugh (0-6, 2 frees), Sean Armstrong. Subs: Peter Cooke for O Curraoin (b/c 50), David Wynne for McDaid (58), Finian Hanley for Wynne (65), Paul Varley for Armstrong (67), Paul Mannion for Day (70), Cathal Sweeney for Heaney (70).

Roscommon: Darren O’Malley; Seanie McDermott (0-1), Tom Featherson, Niall McInerney; Ronan Stack, Sean Mullooly, John McManus; Thomas Corcoran, Tadhg O’Rourke; Fintan Cregg (0-1), Ciaráin Murtagh (0-2, 1 free), Shane Killoran; Cian Connolly (0-1), Ultan Harney, Donie Smith (0-7, 3 frees). Subs: Enda Smith for Cregg (half-time); Davy Murray for McManus (half-time); Conor Devaney (0-1) for Killoran (half-time), Niall Kilroy (0-1, free) for Connolly (52), Kevin Higgins (0-1) for Corcoran (52), Niall Daly for D Smith (60).


Referee: Liam Devaney (Mayo)