Late goals deliver delayed Easter joy for hurlers

Nicky Rackard Cup (Round Two): Roscommon 3-26 Warwickshire 1-14

By Elliot Grealy

As the crowds gathered around Roscommon Town for the Easter celebrations last Sunday, Roscommon hurlers were looking for their own reasons to celebrate and duly delivered with another victory, defeating Warwickshire in Round Two of the Nicky Rackard Cup. Three relatively late goals put a gloss on a less than inspiring Roscommon display.

  It was a dull and desolate day in Dr. Hyde Park with  the wind swirling across the pitch. Warwickshire made a bright start, Kelvin McGee starting the scoring for the visitors before their captain, John Collins, opened his eventually impressive account from placed balls with a fine effort after five minutes.

  Roscommon got on the scoreboard courtesy of a free converted by Padraig Pearses clubman Daniel Glynn. Collins added two more frees to his tally, before Eoin Kiernan and Mickey Joe Egan pointed to reduce the gap to one midway through the first half (0-4 to 0-3 in favour of the underdogs).

  Daniel Glynn continued to raise the white flag with frees before one of the three late changes, Cormac Coyle, fired over an excellent point from midfield. Francis O’Halloran’s men were beginning to get a foothold in the game as we entered the final ten minutes of the opening half, the home side going three in front. However, Galway native Luke Hands was ‘on hand’ to punish the Roscommon defence by firing the ball into the back of the Roscommon net after the home side failed to clear their lines. This goal gave Warwickshire a huge lift and they briefly led.

  Roscommon held their nerve, finishing the half strongest to go in two points in front (0-12 to 1-7) after what was a lacklustre first-half display. Warwickshire were still well in the game and despite trailing were by far the happier side at half-time.

  Roscommon introduced Cathal Dolan from the off in the second half and what a good substitution it turned out to be. Roscommon came out of the blocks with some good scores and were now on a roll. Daniel Glynn landed another fantastic score to add to his already impressive tally. At the other end, John Collins, who was deadly accurate with his frees throughout the encounter, fired over one from play. Kelvin McGee claimed his second point of the game for Warwickshire but Roscommon were now taking points with some aplomb.

  On 51 minutes, the referee brandished four yellow cards after an incident on the sideline. When play resumed, John Collins, who finished on an impressive 0-9, scored his eighth free of the game. After a quick puck-out by Enda Lawless, Daniel Glynn scored superbly off his stronger left side for his seventh point of the game.

  Roscommon finally goaled on 55 minutes when substitute Cathal Dolan found the net from long-range after some misfortune for the Warwickshire goalkeeper.

  Roscommon rapidly piled the pressure on the opposition as an inch-perfect pass from captain Padraig Kelly found the eager hands of centre-forward Mickey Joe Egan who rattled the net to register Roscommon’s second goal in as many minutes. This put the game out of sight for the visitors who couldn’t deal with Roscommon’s attack for long periods of the second half. It got better for the Rossies as Brendan Mulry rounded off the scoring with a third home goal in the second minute of injury-time. Sub Naos Connaughton chipped in with two points during those one-sided closing stages.

  Overall, after that poor first-half performance, a comprehensive second-half display by the Rossies was more than enough to overcome Warwickshire, who it must be said put up good resistance for much of the game. Next up for Roscommon is a trip to Donegal where they will try to build on their positive start to the Nicky Rackard Cup.