FBD Insurance League Semi-Final
As opening games go this was a very good effort to start the Anthony Cunningham regime. Given the number of players missing since last year, to score 2-18 is a very creditable total against any opposition (with 11 different scorers), and the result puts the team into the FBD League final against Galway next Sunday. It will be another welcome competitive game ahead of the league opener in Castlebar on Saturday week.
On the plus side, there were very good displays from Niall Daly (first half) Enda Smith, Shane Killoran (Roscommon’s best player), Ciarán Lennon and subs Dara Pettit and Colin Compton. Some of the accurate kick-passing was a joy to watch and the attack took some great scores throughout.
But before anyone starts getting carried away there were negatives too. Sean Mullooly limped out of the match and must be a doubt for the start of the league now. We can ill afford to lose him.
In addition, this was a very inexperienced Sligo side who pushed Roscommon all the way to the final few minutes of the game. A second quarter fade-out by Roscommon was also a worry. The manager and his selectors have plenty to work on ahead of a very busy and intense season.
On a chilly and blustery evening Roscommon played against the strong wind in the opening half and in the first quarter they racked up some great scores. Cathal Cregg (free) and Conor Daly had early points before Roscommon scored an opportunist goal in the tenth minute. Sligo goalkeeper Aidan Devanney kicked out from the 13-metre line instead of the 20-metre line. Referee Jerome Henry threw up the ball and Shane Killoran grabbed it and drove it to the Sligo net.
By the 17th minute Roscommon were ahead by 1-4 to 0-2 and looking comfortable, but inspired by a magnificent display from Niall Murphy, Sligo came storming back into the game and they held Roscommon scoreless for almost 15 minutes. Murphy kicked a couple of monster points from way out, and their goal arrived in the 24th minute. After a poor kick-out from Darren O’Malley, Patrick O’Connor was fouled and Murphy drove the resultant spot kick to the net. Niall Kilroy and Shane Killoran scored late points in the half but by the break Sligo led by 1-10 to 1-6 with Murphy having accounted for 1-6.
Roscommon were much better after the break and by the 48th minute they were level at 1-10 apiece with Ronan Daly, Donie Smith, Kilroy and Caoileann Fitzmaurice on target.
There was a touch of controversy about Roscommon’s second goal in the 49th minute. Enda Smith made a great run towards goal. He fisted the ball goalwards and it seemed to go into the net directly but the umpire indicated that a Sligo defender had touched it on its way and the goal was given.
But even at that Roscommon were getting it hard to shake off a resilient Sligo. Sub Pat Hughes did very well for the Yeats County and on three occasions they came to within two points of the home side. But in the final five minutes of play Roscommon sealed the win helped by three fine points from sub Colin Compton and another from Donie Smith (a free).
The good sized crowd enjoyed the high scoring nature of the game however Roscommon will know that the standard of opposition they are about to face starting on January 26th will be so different to what they faced here. There are still problems in midfield and if Mullooly is missing at full-back it will be hard to replace him. But to start the year with a win is always good.