Hurlers make winning start

National Hurling League Div. 3B Roscommon  1-15 Longford  2-7 The size of the task of restoring Roscommon hurling to   its former glory was apparent for all to see in Dr. Hyde Park last Sunday when Roscommon were made fight all the way by Longford in their National Hurling League Div. 3B opener.   It’s early days yet as David McConn and his selectors bid to gain promotion back to Division 2 but Roscommon will not have it all their own way if last Sunday’s game is anything to go by.   The first half of this game was very low-key with Shane Sweeney and Mervyn Connaughton the scorers in chief as Roscommon edged into a 0-6 to 0-2 lead by the 22nd minute.   But Longford were playing with great determination and in the 23rd minute Neil Casey flashed over a great point and a minute later Sean Browne cracked home a super goal to level matters — and suddenly it was game on.   Mervyn Connaughton and Joe O’Brien then exchanged points to leave it Roscommon 0-7 Longford 1-4 at half-time.   The second half was a much more lively affair and was nip and tuck until Brendan Hanley struck for a vital Roscommon goal in the 14th minute, pulling first time on a centre from Gerry Fallon. Hanley himself followed up with a good point and subs Dara Mulvey and Brendan Kelly proved their worth with two points apiece after being introduced into the Roscommon attack early in the second half.   However Longford kept plugging away and were rewarded when their most impressive player, Joe O’Brien, scored an excellent goal in the 34th minute after a mazy solo run. It cut the deficit to two points but Roscommon reasserted themselves and points from Mervyn Connaughton, Gerry Fallon and Dara Mulvey closed the deal and two league points were secured for Roscommon after what was a bit of a struggle.   Roscommon were best served by Michael Kelly, Mervyn Connaughton, Brendan Hanley and subs Dara Mulvey and Brendan Kelly.   David McConn will look at this in a positive manner and for a team low in confidence the winning habit is the first thing to establish. Next day out it’s Tyrone away and after this important win the only way is up for the Roscommon senior hurlers. ROSCOMMON: David Connell; Noel Cunniffe, Michael Mulry, Colm Moran; Alan Loughnane, Michael Kelly (0-1-65′), Liam Murray; Thomas Lennon (0-1 free), John Moran; Cathal Kelly, Mervyn Connaughton (0-4 one 65′), Alan Cunniffe; Gerry Fallon (0-1 free), Brendan Hanly (1-1), Shane Sweeney (0-3, all frees). Subs:   Brendan Kelly (0-2) for C. Kelly, Pat Downey for Loughnane, Tom Reddington for Sweeney and Dara Mulvey (0-2) for A Cunniffe. LONGFORD: P. Cullen; B. Stakelum, T. Stakelum, C. Finucane; E. Donnellan (0-1 free), M. Coyle, R. Stakelum; S. Hannon, B. Stakelum; M. Heffernan, S. Browne (1-0), N. Casey (0-1); J. Minnock (0-2), J. O’Brien (1-4, 2 frees), N. Cox. Subs: E. Corcoran for Cox, E. Kavanagh for Donnellan, J. Casey for Heffernan, B. McGrath for Minnock. Referee: E. Shaughnessy (Galway).