Hodson Bay Hotel Group SFC
Roscommon Gaels 1-13
They say that semi-finals are all about winning, and in that regard Roscommon Gaels did what they had to do. They zoomed into a ten point lead by the 8th minute of the second half and cruised home after that. However the town team will not need me to tell them that that they will need an improved performance if they want to get the Fahey Cup back in the county town for the winter.
Liam McNeill’s men never looked like losing this semi-final, but as Ted Walsh often says when a good horse wins, they ‘idled in front’ and let Strokestown in for a few scores in the second half. But when Richard Hughes scored one of the best goals seen in the club championship for many a long day mid-way through the second half, it set seal on a comprehensive win for the Purple and Gold. Now Pádraig Pearses stand between them and a first title since 2004.
It wasn’t a vintage display from the Gaels, but they were in control from the first whistle. Richard Hughes and Mark Healy were on the scoresheet with points inside the opening seven minutes as the pre-match favourites took advantage of the stiff breeze at their backs. In the 9th minute Colin Compton kicked over a smart point from 30 metres out, but incredibly it was to be Strokestown’s last score for over 30 minutes of play.
Hughes, Kilcline, and David O’Gara bossed possession while John McManus and Paul Gleeson were keeping the back door firmly shut. Cian Connolly, Ronan Carolan, Peter Gillooly, Brian Kelly, Hughes, David O’Gara and Kieran Kilcline were all on the mark before half-time and all those scores came from play with the exception of a Brian Kelly free in the 25th minute. At half-time the Gaels led by 0-9 to 0-1.
Brian Kelly and Tim Lambe added points on the restart to open up a ten-point gap by the 38th minute and even at that early stage the contest looked over. Maybe the Gaels players thought that too, and they took their foot off the accelerator. The result was never in doubt, but Strokestown got a bit more ball, and a few scores to boot. Sub Cian Corcoran Colin Compton (2) and Keelan Beirne were all on the mark, and by the 45th minute it was 0-12 to 0-6.
But in the 49th minute we saw one of the goals of the year and a score that was worth the entrance fee alone. The ball ran loose to Richard Hughes 45 metres from goal. Instead of picking it up, he controlled it soccer-style, and dribbled into the heart of the Strokestown defence. He sold a dummy that Messi would be proud of before he blasted the ball high into the Strokestown net. It was a fantastic goal and deserving of winning any match.
It was a matter of going through the motions after that. Colin Compton (2), Tony Lavin (a fisted effort) and Keelan Beirne all scored points for Nigel Dineen’s men, but the Gaels were already thinking about the final and they had the last word too when Mark Nally pointed a free in injury-time.
For the Gaels, James Fetherstone, Paul Gleeson, Tim Lambe, John McManus, David O’Gara, Kieran Kilcline and the outstanding Richard Hughes were best on the day. For Strokestown, Paddy Brogan, David Neary, Colin Compton and sub Keelan Beirne were most prominent.
Roscommon Gaels: James Fetherstone; Paul Gleeson, John McManus, Mike McNeill; Tim Lambe (0-1), Richard Hughes (1-2), Kevin O’Gara; Kieran Kilcline (0-1), Mark Healy (0-1); Brian Kelly (0-2, 1 free), David O’Gara (0-1), Scott Oates; Peter Gillooly (0-1), Cian Connolly (0-2, 1 free), Ronan Carolan (0-1). Subs: Mark Nally (0-1, free) for Carolan (44), Orin Walsh for Oates (51), Cathal Dineen for Gilooly (59), Bryan O’Gara for Healy (61), James O’Gara for Connolly (62), Ronan Gleeson for Hughes (64).
Strokestown: John McHugh; Conor Kelly, Ruaidhri Molloy, Cathal Brogan; Dylan Owens, Michael Fallon, Kevin Shiel; Paddy Brogan, David Butler; Tony Lavin (0-1), Daniel Rogers, David Neary; Keith Murphy, Colin Compton (0-5, 3 frees), Diarmuid McGann (0-1). Subs: Cian Corcoran (0-1) for Kelly and Keelan Beirne (0-2 frees) for Molloy (h/t), Mikey Kavanagh for Sheil (43), Gerard Collins for D Rogers (62), Luke Kelly for Murphy (61).
Referee: Kevin Naughton (Clann na nGael)