Imperious Roscommon win Hastings Cup in style

Hastings Cup Final Roscommon 0-18  Longford 0-6 Paul Hickey  Roscommon secured the 2008 Hastings Cup at Killoe, Longford, last Saturday afternoon with a tremendous performance that delighted a large crowd of travelling Roscommon supporters. This splendid Roscommon team produced a wonderfully entertaining performance on Saturday to defeat a weak Longford team by 12 points. Cathal Cregg, David O’Gara, David Keenan, David Flynn, Peter Domican, and Ronan Brady led Roscommon to victory on what was a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon for the team’s patrons. The loud and sustained hand-clap that rang around the Emmet Óg GAA Club venue at the end of the game was a salute by the Roscommon faithful to a bunch of young players that has captured the imagination of this county. The team that lined out on Saturday contained ten of Roscommon’s 2006 All-Ireland Minor winners. Three more of those minors – Paul Gleeson, Niall Carty, and Donal Shine – were introduced as substitutes and all three impressed greatly in the second half. That two of Roscommon’s three best performers on the day – Cathal Cregg and Ronan Brady – were members of the 2005 minor team – is even more heartening. Brady sent the strongest possible message to the watching John Maughan with another polished performance in the full-back line, and Cregg uplifted everybody in attendance with an effortlessly brilliant performance in the first half. David Keenan controlled midfield for Roscommon on a day when James McKeague was unusually quiet. David Flynn shored up the middle with a solid performance at centre half-back. He was assisted in the outer line of defence by the impressive Donal Ward and by Colm Garvey, who kicked a good score in the second half. Peter Domican was dominant at full-back but he did not have much to do for most of the game. Eighteen points is a great day’s work for any team on a February day, even if the weather is unseasonably pleasant currently. Enda Kenny turned in another imperious performance at full-forward, kicking five points, and it was heartening to see the winning team’s half-forward line kick eight points.      Manager Michael Ryan faces a major selection headache as he prepares for the looming Connacht Championship: Ronan Martin and the returning Donie Shine will push very strongly for starting berths against either Galway or Sligo at the end of March. The play: The game began at a high tempo, and Roscommon had a chance to go a goal ahead after just three minutes when they were awarded a penalty. Kevin Higgins was hauled down by Longford full-back Thomas Gallagher on the edge of the square after he had been put through by James McKeague. The normally deadly Conor Devaney failed to convert however, and Paul Garvey was unlucky when he steered a reflexive rebound shot wide. Enda Kenny opened Roscommon’s account after five minutes with a free out of his hands. The same player was involved in the victors’ second point: he linked up with David O’Gara to set up Cathal Cregg for Roscommon’s second point in the eighth minute. Cregg’s Western Gaels team-mates Donal Ward and Kevin Higgins provided the third Roscommon score: Ward’s intelligent pass set up Higgins for a good point from a tight angle out on the right. David O’Gara followed this up with the first of three superb left-footed points. Roscommon were unlucky not to score a goal in the 17th minute when Cathal Cregg smashed the ball off the upright after intricate passing involving Kenny, Devaney, and Paul Garvey. A second Kenny point gave Roscommon a five-point advantage in the 18th minute. The score of the game came in the 21st minute. Cathal Cregg picked the ball up in his own right-half back position and gracefully accelerated up the touchline past three Longford opponents before curling the ball over from 38 metres. Longford finally opened their account in the 24th minute when Eugene Clarke kicked a free from 40 metres. Kenny restored Roscommon’s two-goal advantage just before the break with a point from an acute angle out on the left. Something of a renaissance by the Longford forwards in the third quarter failed to reduce the extent of Roscommon’s lead, as the marauding O’Gara and Cregg took control. Two points from Mark Smith early in the second half sandwiched scores from Kenny and Paul Garvey. The Roscommon full-forward then exchanged points with Martin Brady. Donie Shine’s 35-metre free in the 41st minute gave Roscommon a seven-point lead on a scoreline of 0-11 to 0-4. Cian Mimnagh’s effort for Longford preceded a Roscommon onslaught in the final quarter. Colm Garvey, Paul Garvey (2), Kevin Higgins, David O’Gara (2), and Donal Shine all raised white flags in the last fifteen minutes, with Mark Smith’s point late on the sole Longford score in the final phase of the game. Roscommon: Mark Miley; Ronan Brady, Peter Domican, Oliver Harney; Donal Ward, David Flynn, Colm Garvey (0-1); James McKeague, David Keenan; Kevin Higgins (0-2), Paul Garvey (0-3, 0-1 free), David O’Gara (0-3); Conor Devaney, Enda Kenny (0-5, 0-2 frees), Cathal Cregg (0-2). Subs used: Paul Gleeson for Harney (half-time); Donie Shine (0-2, free) for Devaney (36 mins); Niall Carty for Domican (42 mins), Michael Killilea for McKeague (46 mins); Gearoid Cunniffe for O’Gara (57 mins). Longford: Stephen Watters; Francis Brady, Thomas Gallagher, Peter Foy; Seamus Hannon, Paul Kelly, Aidan Rowan; Michael Kenny, Martin Brady; Conan Casey, Donal McElligott, Eugene Clarke; Cian Mimnagh, Mark Smith, Kevin Burke. Sub used: Shane Doyle for Casey (45 mins). At a glance