Roscommon capture Fr. Manning titile in exciting decider

Fr. Manning Cup Final Roscommon 0-10 Westmeath 0-7 Roscommon captured their first Fr. Manning Cup title since 2002 and their ninth title in all when they had three points to spare over Westmeath after two periods of extra time in this dour but very exciting decider played before a big crowd at Longford Slashers grounds last night (Wednesday). Gary Wynne’s charges were almost guilty of throwing the title away because they were by far the best team, but they kicked a total of 19 wides and only came good in extra time, when they pulled away.             Roscommon can also be thankful that their defence, in which David Butler, Grant Deeney and Patrick Brogan were outstanding, especially in the first half, held firm, but it was wing half back Niall Daly who was the star of the show and was the man of the match by some distance. He blocked, harried, tackled, ran and even got up the field to score a crucial point in what was a marvellous all-round display.             The windy weather and soft underfoot conditions ensured that good football was at a premium and in the first half both sides looked extremely nervous. Stuart Flynn kicked Westmeath into the lead after eight minutes with a 30 metre free. Roscommon were on top in terms of possession, but the wides began to mount as chance after chance went a begging.             Roscommon did open their account in the 11th minute when Aaron Fehily pointed a 30 metre free after a foul on Michael Sweeney, but Westmeath went ahead again when Flynn pointed a brilliant free from an acute angle on the right and against the breeze too.             Roscommon continued to struggle in front of the posts, but they were level at half time. James O’Gara pulled first time on a Michael Seeeney pass but his goal-bound effort was flicked over the bar by the Westmeath goalkeeper Sean McCormack in the 29th minute, to leave the scores level at 0-2 each at the break.             The second half was a much livelier affair. Roscommon played much better against the breeze and with Daly driving on the team from his position in the half back line, the scores began to come.             Sweeney had Roscommon ahead with a point from 20 metres in the first minute, but two Callum McCormack points in the fifth and tenth minutes saw Westmeath back in the lead. However Roscommon were winning oceans of possession and Cathal Shine, Sonny McNulty and James O’Gara began to dominate and win plenty of ball. Aaron Fehily tied the scores again with a pointed free in the 13th minute before Bernard Carthy scored an excellent point in the 14th minute after great work from Fehily and Niall Kilroy.             Fehily established a two-point lead for Roscommon with another free in the 16th minute and the game was becoming a tight tense affair as the winning post came into view.             Flynn narrowed the gap with a 40 metre free in the 17th minute, but the tireless Flynn struck for a mighty point in the 17th minute. Roscommon just couldn’t pull away and the attack missed several chances to establish a winning lead. Westmeath made them pay with a point from play from Cormac Boyle in the 25th minute and a 45-metre free from Flynn ensured that the sides went into extra time with the scores tied at 0-7 apiece.             In the gathering gloom there were precious few scoring chances in extra time. Credit to Roscommon, they never gave up the ghost and they led 0-8 to 0-7 at the half way mark, after Fehily kicked a 45 metre free following a fowl on O’Gara.             The Rossies were not to be denied and in the eighth minute of the second period Cathal Shine kicked over a great free out of his hands from 40 metres. A minute later Niall Kilroy kicked another great score on the run, to seal the title for Roscommon. It was not Kilroy’s day in front of goal as he missed a number of chances, but like his team mates, he stuck at it and it paid off in the end. Roscommon: Naas Connaughton; David Butler, Grant Deeney, Patrick Brogan; Diarmuid Connellan, Mark Keaveney, Niall Daly (0-1); Sonny McNulty Cathal Shine (0-1, free); Scott Oates, James O’Gara (0-1), Bernard Carthy (0-1); Michael Sweeney (0-1), Aaron Fehily (0-4, frees), Niall Kilroy (0-1). Subs used: Colin Compton for Scott Oates. Westmeath: Sean McCormack; Paul Carey, Ciaran Sheridan, Trevor Farrell; Ben Moran, Adam Browne, Shane Mulvihill; Ger Egan, Alan Fitzpatrick; Adam Ward, Wayne Fox, Cormac Boyle (0-1); Callum McCormack (0-2), Robert Kenny, Stuart Flynn (0-4 frees). Subs used: Kevin Maguire, Stephen Noonan, Shane Flanagan. Referee: Eugene Murtagh (Longford).