Allianz National Football League Division 2:
Roscommon 0-9 Clare 0-9
Roscommon’s trip to Newry to take on Down this Saturday offers an opportunity for the team to return to winning ways and maintain their promotion push after last Sunday’s difficult encounter against Clare.
The general feeling in Dr Hyde Park on Sunday was that a draw was a fair result after a tight battle played in brutal conditions. The result means that Roscommon remain unbeaten and in a very good position after three rounds of games.
Roscommon manager Anthony Cunningham declared himself happy with a point despite his team being three ahead going into the final stages.
“We would have taken a draw at half-time but it was the kind of a day when it was easier to play against the wind. It was so swirly and hard to judge out there today. But I was happy with our second-half performance. I thought we could go on and win it when we went three points up, but fair play to Clare, they fought all the way to the finish. We are happy with a point”.
Attention now turns to this Saturday’s trip north.
Anthony Cunningham: “We have a huge game on Saturday in Newry and we will go there trying to improve again. Down will be much improved. They have players back and they got a good draw against Meath as well. This is such a competitive division…you can take no team for granted”.
Given the conditions, Sunday’s game was never going to be a classic, and Cunningham preferred to hail the positives rather than dwell on what some supporters will view as a point lost.
“We saw a tremendous Roscommon effort there in the second half. It was a really tough day for the players today – on both sides – but full marks to the people who did the work on the pitch. It was in super shape again. The only thing was that I was afraid the posts would fall at one stage, the wind was so strong! I thought that the black card against Ultan (Harney) was harsh and we were under pressure after that”.
That Sunday’s game went ahead at all is a tribute to the ground staff at Dr Hyde Park, the work carried out on the pitch in recent years meaning that the surface was in top class condition. However, the gale-force winds and squally showers meant that any attempt to play flowing football was essentially doomed.
Both teams actually played far better into the storm. With the elements at their backs in the opening half, Roscommon struggled to get any momentum going and Clare held on to the ball expertly with Podge Collins, Cian O’Dea, Darren O’Neill and Eoin Cleary outstanding.
By the 21st minute Clare led by 0-4 to 0-2 and Roscommon were struggling. Points from Enda and Donie Smith (free), levelled matters by the 24th minute and two points from Conor Cox (both frees) saw the home side ahead by a single point at the break, 0-6 to 0-5.
Given the ferocity of the wind it looked like the home side would be in big trouble in the second half, but they came out battling, and now it was Clare who were struggling to take advantage of the elements.
Scores were hard to come by on both sides in the monsoon-like conditions but Roscommon raised flags through Conor Cox, Richard Hughes and sub Diarmuid Murtagh, putting them 0-9 to 0-6 ahead with just eight minutes of normal time left. Then, Ultan Harney was black-carded for a needless foul and Clare suddenly found their range.
Keelan Sexton pointed a ’45 in the 65th minute and Eoin Cleary was on target two minutes later. Then in injury-time experienced sub David Tubridy earned his side a share of the spoils with a fine point from 40 metres. Roscommon had a late chance to win it but Enda Smith was crowded out by the Clare defence.
On a really tough day for the players, Eoin McCormack (who is continuing to impress), Eddie Nolan, Colm Lavin, Enda Smith and Conor Cox stood out for Roscommon. Now Anthony Cunningham’s men head to Newry this Saturday with their promotion push still firmly on track.