Galway marooned as Dowd’s young guns stay on course for three-in-a-row
Eirgrid Connacht U-21 FC Quarter-Final Roscommon 1-16 Galway 2-10

Roscommon’s superb recent record at U-21 level continued in Kiltoom last Friday night when Mark Dowd’s men had a hard-earned three-point win against a fancied Galway side in what was a highly entertaining game between these two great rivals.

  The big crowd were treated to a very competitive game in which Roscommon looked comfortable until a late rally from Galway threatened to derail hopes of a home win, but the young Rossies had done enough to upset the odds.

  Roscommon were largely written off prior to this game due to the big injury setbacks that they have had to endure in recent weeks, but several lesser-known players stood up to the mark in this game, not least Clann na nGael’s Cathal Callinan who turned in a superb display which was embellished by four excellent points from play.

  Jack Connaughton, Fergal Lennon, Brian Stack, Cathal Compton, Diarmuid Murtagh and Hubert Darcy were also very prominent as Roscommon booked a place in the semi-final against Sligo this coming Saturday.

  On a perfect night for football Roscommon received a boost in the 12th minute when Brian Kelly was fouled in the large square and Diarmuid Murtagh blasted the resultant penalty high into the Galway net to give the home side an early advantage. Peter Cooke’s excellent free-taking was keeping Galway in touch and they were level at 0-4 to 1-1 by the 17th minute. Then three excellent points from play from Cathal Callinnan and points from Jack Connaughton and Fergal Lennon helped Roscommon to a 1-7 to 0-5 lead at half-time.

 Galway’s cause was not helped when their midfielder Michael Daly was harshly sent off by referee Jerome Henry for a second yellow card offence just before the half-time whistle.

  It was Galway who started the second half with a bang and sub Joseph Donnellan blasted home a great goal inside the first minute. The visitors were back in the game. It was Roscommon who kicked on after that and a succession of well-taken points saw the home side pull away to lead by 1-15 to 1-8 with three minutes of normal time left to play.

  But Galway were not finished yet. Corner-back Rory Green scored a spectacular goal from all of 25 yards out, and when Peter Cooke landed a ’45 in the 59th minute, there was only a goal in the contest. Then in injury-time, Cathal Compton landed a great point for Roscommon to relieve the pressure – and despite Cooke pointing another free, Roscommon had done enough.

  Roscommon’s quest for three titles in a row at this grade is still alive and a sixth Connacht title in eight years is very much a possibility. Sligo next weekend in the semi-final will be a different challenge altogether.

Roscommon: Shane Mannion; Jack Connaughton (0-1), Sean Mullooly, Fergal Lennon (0-2); Ronan Daly, Evan McGrath, Brian Stack; Tadhg O’Rourke, Cathal Compton (0-2); Kevin Farrell (0-1), Henry Walsh (0-1, free), Brian Kelly; Diarmuid Murtagh (1-2, 1-0 pen, 1 free), Hubert Darcy (0-2), Cathal Callinan (0-4). Subs: Keelan Beirne for McGrath (19), Aengus Lyons (0-1) for Kelly (45), Ronan Raftery for Callinan (52), Kevin Smith for Darcy (54).

Galway: Tadhg O’Malley; Luke Burke, Oisin Canney, Rory Green (1-0); Kieran Molloy, Enda Tierney (0-1), Brian Shaughnessy; Michael Daly, Peter Cooke (0-5, 2 ‘45s, 3 frees); Jason Lyons, Eamon Branagan (0-2), Paul Mannion (0-1); Antaine O’Laoi, Eoin Finnerty, Colm Mannion. Subs: Cormac McWalter (0-1) for Lyons (22), Joseph Donnellan (1-0) for Finnerty (h-t), Colm O’Braonain for Shaughnessy (h-t), Sean Andy Kelly for Canney (39), Matthew Reddington for O’Laoi (51), Kevin Nally for O’Braonain (53).

Referee: Jerome Henry (Sligo).