Roscommon Gaels keep dream alive





Hodson Bay Hotel Roscommon SFC quarter-final

Roscommon Gaels 2-13

Elphin 0-11


Roscommon Gaels’ quest for a first senior title in 15 years is still on course after this enjoyable quarter-final played in Strokestown on Saturday evening. Liam McNeill’s men faltered a bit during the first half when playing against the strong breeze, but once they got going in the second period they pulled away to win with a bit to spare.

  The town team brought Cian Connolly and Scott Oates home from the Middle East for this match, a move which shows how serious they are about their championship ambitions. It paid off too, as Connolly blasted home their first goal, while Oates was excellent, particularly in the second half as he controlled possession and set up a number of scores.

  The Gaels were 1-2 to 0-1 in front after eight minutes. Mark Healy opened the scoring in the first minute with a point from play and four minutes later they scored their first goal. Tim Lambe (who had an outstanding game) burst forward. His attempt for a point came back off a post and first to react was Cian Connolly, who finished to the net with aplomb.

  A Fintan Cregg free for Elphin, and a similar effort from Brian Kelly (Gaels) saw the gap at four points after 11 minutes. However, that Kelly effort was to be the Gaels’ last score for almost 20 minutes as Elphin came roaring back into the match. Unsurprisingly, Fintan Cregg was at the heart of much of their fine play, Elphin firing over six points without reply. Fintan Cregg (2), Gerry Cregg (2), Austin Kielty and Frankie Cregg were all on the mark. Indeed, it could have been even better for Peter Carney’s men but Frankie Cregg’s goal attempt in the 23rd minute came back off a post. Brian Kelly’s injury-time free gave the Gaels some respite, leaving Elphin 0-7 to 1-3 in front at half-time. However it must be said that the Gaels went in feeling frustrated that a lot of the refereeing decisions went against them in that opening period.

  The town team set about their task impressively in the second half. With Scott Oates directing matters from centre-forward, the inside men Peter Gillooly and Ronan Carolan came alive, producing some superb scores. Early points from Oates and Carolan saw the town team go ahead and they assumed control after that.

  Outstanding points from play from Gillooly (2) and Carolan (2) saw the margin grow to four by the 42nd minute and the Gaels never looked in trouble from then on. Aaron Brady converted a long-range free and Fintan Cregg kicked a couple of fine points, but it was a lost cause at that stage for Elphin. The Gaels capped a commanding second-half display with a great team move which finished with sub Richard Hughes fisting home a goal in injury-time.

  In the end, it was another comfortable win for the Gaels, but much bigger tests lie ahead for them as they bid to bridge a 15-year wait for the Fahey Cup. Liam McNeill and his selectors will be worried about that flat 20 minutes in the first half, but the team’s strength in depth is proving crucial.

  Candidates for man of the match on their side were Paul Gleeson, Tim Lambe, Mark Healy, Peter Gillooly, Scott Oates and Ronan Carolan. For a gallant Elphin, Fintan Cregg was outstanding once again, with Niall Higgins, Gerry Cregg and Frankie Cregg also impressive.