Christy Ring Cup Promotion/Relegation Play-off/Connacht Intermediate Final: Roscommon 2-14 Mayo 0-13
The rise of Roscommon’s hurling fortunes continued in Pearse Stadium last Sunday as Justin Campbell’s men produced a superb second-half display to overwhelm Mayo, and now Roscommon will compete in the Christy Ring Cup in 2016.
It’s a great reward after a season which began with frustration in the league but which has ended in glory with a Nicky Rackard Cup title and now promotion to a higher level in championship hurling for the first time in over a decade.
Roscommon manager Justin Campbell says the players will regroup in due course and prepare for the higher level of hurling.
“It’s great to be in the Christy Ring Cup next year but that is a long way off yet. We will regroup for that in time but I am delighted for the players. They put in a savage amount of work over the past few months and they deserve their success.”
Roscommon captain Micheal Kelly said the team are looking forward to testing themselves at Christy Ring Cup level.
“We are thrilled to win again here today. There is such a great spirit in the camp and it is great to know that we are going into the Christy Ring Cup next year. We want to test ourselves to see how far we can go and this is the first step here today.”
This was another fine team display from Roscommon but key to the victory was the introduction of Johnny Coyne as a sub at half-time. The Mayo defence were not able to cope with the pace and scoring power of the Four Roads attacker and he finished the day with a match-winning contribution of 2-3.
In a match played on a beautiful summer’s day, the first half was nip and tuck as both teams took a long time to settle into the game Cillian Egan was doing well up front for Roscommon and he opened the scoring with a fine point in the 4th minute.
Mayo were the better side in the opening 15 minutes and they led 0-4 to 0-2 at that stage, Cathal Dolan getting Roscommon’s other point in the 12th minute. Then Roscommon struck a purple patch and scored four points in a row by the 27th minute. Jerry Fallon was on target with three (two frees) and team captain Micheal Kelly scored the other point from a free.
A Fergal Boland point for Mayo narrowed the gap to one in the 28th minute and then two minutes later Roscommon missed a penalty and it looked as if it might be a crucial miss too. Cillian Egan was hauled to the ground in the penalty area. It was a definite penalty, but Mayo goalkeeper Donal O’Brien made a magnificent save from Micheal Kelly’s low shot. However it wasn’t a total waste as Kelly pointed the resultant ’65.
Two Kenny Feeney points for Mayo in the final minute of the half saw the sides go in level at 0-7 each. Roscommon introduced Johnny Coyne for Jerry Fallon at half-time and it was to be the decisive move of the game.
Coyne and Kenny Feeney exchanged points in the opening three minute of the half before the Four Roads star crashed home a great goal in the 41st minute to give Roscommon some breathing space.
Johnny Moran and Coyne again pointed to extend the Roscommon lead to five (1-10 to 0-8) by the 45th minute. With Kenny Feeney battling away well for Mayo, they did come to within two points of Roscommon by the 55th minute, but further well-taken scores from Jason Kilkenny and Johnny Coyne opened up a four-point gap, and then in the 60th minute Coyne struck with devastating effect for his second goal.
Ronan O’Meara did the heavy lifting; his pass to Coyne was accurate and he blasted to the Mayo net and that was that. The sides exchanged points from Kenny Feeney and Justin Kilkenny in the final few minutes but Roscommon had won with a bit to spare.
Now the hard work really starts as Roscommon will have to prepare for much bigger challenges in the spring and summer of 2016. It has been a great few months for the Roscommon senior hurling team and Justin Campbell and his team deserve great credit for what they have achieved.
Roscommon: Noel Fallon; Ian Delaney, Peter Kellehan, Liam Kilcline; Declan Leonard, Micheal Kelly (0-2, 1 free,’65), Tomas Seale; Cathal Dolan (0-1), Jason Kilkenny (0-2); Johnny Moran (0-1), Ronan O’Meara (0-1), Jerry Fallon (0-3, 2 frees); Cillian Egan (0-1), Keith Kilkenny, Adrian Murphy. Subs: Johnny Coyne (2-3, 2 frees) for J Fallon (h-t), Cathal Kelly for Dolan (47), Adam Finnerty for Murphy (54), Eamon Flanagan for Moran (65), Gary Fallon for Seale (68). Mayo: Donal O’Brien; Adrian Brennan, Eoghan Collins, Brian Hunt; Kieran Kelly, Padraig O’Flynn, Noel Casey; David Kenny (0-1), Kieran McDermott (0-1); Fergal Boland (0-3, 1 free), Austin Lyons, Kenny Feeney (0-7, 3 frees, 2 ‘65’s); Stephen Hoban, Corey Scahill (0-1), Shane Boland. Subs: Sean Regan for S Boland (38), Gary Nolan for Lyons (55), Shane Morley for Casey (65), David Harrison for McDermott (60, Fergal Lyons for Kiely (68).
Referee: Declan O’Driscoll (Limerick).