Killoran recalls 1991 draw with Mayo and THAT free

   In 1991 Roscommon had established themselves as one of the top four or five teams in the country. They were the Connacht champions and were operating out of Division 1 of the National Football League. They made it to the semi-finals of the league and were joint favourites to win the Connacht SFC along with the John O’Mahoney-trained Mayo. The two teams got to the 1991 final and it took two games to separate the teams. The first game of the two was played at McHale Pak and while it will not be remembered for the fantastic football on display, it was a very tough, hard-hitting encounter which finished in the most dramatic of circumstances when a young man from Castlerea, 19-year-old Derek Duggan, kicked a monster 65-yard free into a fresh breeze to give Roscommon a sensational draw. Those of us who were there on the day will always remember that free and the manner in which Roscommon secured a deserved draw. Seamus Killoran was the Elphin man who formed a brilliant midfield partnership with John Newton on that team. Killoran often did not get the praise that he deserved as being one of the hardest-working and most effective midfielders in the country over the three or four year period of the Marty McDermott era. He recalls that teak-tough Connacht final at McHale Park.   1991 Connacht Senior Final Roscommon               0-14 Mayo                          0-14   Roscommon played Leitrim in the Connacht semi-final in 1991. They (Leitrim) were now a major force in Connacht football. However with Tony McManus in typically brilliant form, Roscommon prevailed in Carrick-on-Shannon by 0-12 to 0-8, with Tony scoring 0-5 from play. Mayo had qualified for the final on the other side of the draw and the match was played in the 14th July, 1991 on a dull but warm and breezy afternoon at McHale Park. A crowd of 26,000 people attended the game and they would see a fiercely-fought championship encounter that ended with incredible excitement.   Mayo played with the strong breeze at their backs in the first half. TJ Kilgallon and Colm McMenamon gave the home side an advantage at midfield early on but it was Roscommon who struck first with points from Tony Mac and Derek Duggan (free). Mayo freetaker Michael Fitzmaurice opened their account but another Tony Mac point left Roscommon 3-1 ahead before adopted Mayoman Thomas Tierney and Liam McHale levelled the scores between them after 17 minutes.   It was clear even at this stage that the crowd were in for a thrilling game when it was tit for tat, point for point, and as they say down this part of the country, it was ‘no place for a gasan’ as the tackles went in hard and fast on both sides.   Mayo improved steadily thoughout the half and points from Tony Morley, Liam McHale and Kevin McStay helped Mayo into a 0-7 to 0-5 half-time lead. However there were 35 minues to go and with the words of Marty McDermott and veteran forward Tony McManus ringing in their ears from the half-time talk in the dressing room, Roscommon took the field for the second half determined to retain the Nestor Cup.   It was Mayo who struck first and points from TJ Kilgallon and Michael Fitzmaurice left the green and red four points ahead at 9-5. Roscommon slowly got a grip at midfield and Seamus Killloran and John Newton assumed control. Killoran was turning in a brilliant display and Mattie Reilly raced forward for a great Roscommon point and two minutes later Paul Hickey narrowed the gap further and when Derek Duggan and Michael Donlon pointed it was 9 points apiece after 12 minutes of the second half.   As the intensity rose even further the tackles became tougher and harder. Colm McMenamon kicked a great Mayo point, but Paul Earley kicked just as good a point for Roscommon a minute later. On it went, Duggan and Ray Dempsey exchanged points (11 points each) and then it was Tony Morley and another free from Duggan (12 each).   There were 30 minutes gone with the sides locked together. John Newton kicked a long-range point to edge Roscommon ahead but Dempsey cancelled that out with a Mayo point in the 33rd minute. It was clear that the next point could win it. Every ball was contested as if it was a matter of life or death. Mayo were awared a ’50 in the 36th minute. The ball fell short and came to Liam McHale who duly kicked what looked like the winning point from 25 metres. Surely that was it?   Roscommon had to get the ball upfield. Seamus Killoran was fouled in the middle of the field 80 yards out from the Mayo goal. Killoran and Mattie Reilly ‘stole’ a few yards each and suddenly it was a 65-yard free. There was a strong breeze blowing into the faces of the Roscommon players. Mattie Reilly took the ball and gestured to his clubmate Derek Duggan to come out to take the free. Team manager Marty McDermott gestured wildly on the sideline. Why was Mattie wasting time? There was no chance of young Duggan kicking the ball over the bar into the breeze from such a long distance out