Hughes the hero for Gaels

Hodson Bay Hotel SFC (Group A)
Roscommon Gaels 2-7 Elphin 1-8

Roscommon Gaels squeezed through to the play-off stages of this year’s championship following this narrow victory against Elphin in what was a tense and nervy affair at Lisnamult on Friday night.

Elphin staged a second-half comeback which came up just short and now, after two losses, they will have to prepare for a relegation play-off.

The Gaels were much improved on their opening match against Oran and were the better team in the first half. David O’Gara was very effective at full-forward with Mark Healy, John McManus, Richard Hughes and Kieran Kilcline all doing well for the home side.

The Gaels scored their first goal in the 11th minute when James McDermott’s high ball was fisted home by Richard Walsh. Then in the 18th minute the second goal came courtesy of Richard Hughes after DJ Hession’s shot came back off a post. At half-time the Gaels led by 2-3 to 0-5.

Elphin never gave up the ghost and they worked their way back into the game in the second half. Two pointed frees from Fintan Cregg by the 49th minute saw the margin down to four once again and with five minutes to go sub Frankie Cregg blasted home a great goal to leave the bare minimum between the sides.

Elphin pressed forward looking for the equalising score but the Gaels’ defence stood firm and Richard Hughes settled it in the 59th minute with a long-range free. The Gaels progress with a round to go, but they will need a major improvement if they are to advance further.

Roscommon Gaels: James Fetherstone: John McManus, Kieran Kilcline, Joey O’Malley; Orin Walsh (0-1), Richard Hughes (1-3, 3 frees), Cathal Dineen; James McDermott, Mark Purcell; Conor McNamara, Mark Healy (0-1), Ryan Conlon (0-1); Richard Walsh (1-0), David O’Gara, DJ Hession. Subs: Cian Connolly for Hession (h/t), Ronan Gleeson (0-1), for O Walsh (42), Brian Kelly for Conlon (49), Brian O’Malley for McNamara (56).

Elphin: Aaron Brady (0-1, free); Martin McCaffrey, Niall Higgins, Alex Gleeson; Damien Cregg, Enda Killoran, Shane Beirne (0-1); Luke Mollahan, Nessan Lenehan; Gavin Murray, Fintan Cregg (0-4, 3 frees), Gerry Cregg (0-1); John Finnerty, Rossa Kelly (0-1), Aidan Murray. Subs: Frankie Cregg (1-0) for Finnerty (29), Dara Casserly for D Cregg (h/t), Eoin Mollahan for Beirne (57).

Referee: Dermot Lyons.