Roscommon ease into Manning Cup Final

Fr. Manning Cup semi-final Roscommon    2-13 Offaly               2-4 Roscommon’s U-16 footballers have reached the final of the 2007 Fr. Manning Cup by virtue of this impressive nine-point victory over Offaly at Dr. Hyde Park last night (Wednesday). This was a much more assured performance from Gary Wynne’s charges than the one we saw the previous week against Leitrim and now Roscommon will face a highly-rated Westmeath team in the final next Wednesday night in Longford at 7.15 pm.   The match started almost three-quarters of an hour late and finished in near darkness as the Offaly team bus was caught in a traffic jam because of an accident.    Roscommon dominated all through and were well worth their win.The Roscommon attack, and Niall Kilroy in particular, terrorised the Offaly defence throughout and the outcome was never in doubt.   Kilroy opened the scoring in the 1st minute with a good point before Offaly tacked on two points from Thomas Spain and Anton Sullivan – but that was to be the only time that Offaly led. Aaron Fehily landed a super 30 metre point to level the scores and in the 9th minute Kilroy scored a cracking goal.   Michael Sweeney put in a super ball in front of the St. Ciarans man and he skipped around his marker as if he wasn’t there and planted the ball past the Offaly goalkeeper for a stunning goal.    Cathal Shine, Kilroy and Scott Oates (fist) all added points as Roscommon pulled away and when Kilroy, Fehily and Bernard Carthy added more Roscommon points it was 1-8 to 0-2 after just 28 minutes.   Offaly struck for a goal before half-time when midfielder Derek Kelly scored at the second attempt but a James O’Gara point on the call of half-time left Roscommon in front by 1-9 to  1-2 at the break.   The one-way traffic continued after the break. Kilroy planted another great ball over the bar in the 7th minute before Bernard Carthy grabbed another fine point in the 8th minute.  The Rossies then struck for their second goal, in the 14th minute. Michael Sweeney won another great ball before laying off to Niall Kilroy and he placed the marauding wing-back Diarmud Connellan, who crashed the ball to the Offaly net.   It was all academic after that although Offaly did improve somewhat and in the 28th minute sub Stephen Callen scored a lovely goal, flicking the ball past Naas Connaughton after good work from Derek Kelly. Roscommon added points from Kilroy and sub Cathal Compton to complete an impressive team performance.   Roscommon were best served on the night by Grant Deeney, Diarmud Connellan, Cathal Shine, Scott Oates, Michael Sweeney, Aaron Fehily and the aforementioned Kilroy, who looks a corner-forward of real quality.   However before any Roscommon fans get carried away there is a small matter of the final againt a highly-rated Westmeath next week, a side who have swept all before them in this competition this year and who last night they beat Sligo by 1-14 to 0-5 in their semi-final. Roscommon: Naas Connaughton; David Butler, Grant Deeney, Patrick Brogan; Diarmud Connellan (1-0), Mark Keaveney, Niall Daly; Sonny McNulty, Cathal Shine (0-1); Scott Oates (0-1), James O’Gara (0-1), Bernard Carthy (0-2); Niall Kilroy (1-5), Aaron Fehily (0-2), Michael Sweeney. Subs: Colin Compton (0-1) for Sweeney, Cathal Kelly for Shine, Darren Clabby for Oates, Ronan Stack for Keaveney. Offaly: C. Shortt; E. Rigney, D. Maloney, G. McNamee; J. Kavanagh, M. Young (0-1), C. McManus; P. Farrell, D. Kelly (1-0); B. Hogan (0-1), J. Dunican, R. Dunne; A. Sullivan, T. Bolger, T. Spain (0-1). Subs: S. Cullen, S. Callen (0-1), J. Egan, S. Nally, J. Crombie. Referee: Damien McGann (Sligo).