Royals spoil McStay’s opening night

Senior Football Challenge: Meath 4-17 Roscommon 2-16

Blanket defences were nowhere to be seen in Kiltoom on Saturday night as an understrength Roscommon went down to Meath in an entertaining charity challenge game played in perfect weather conditions. It marked the first game for both sides under new management set-ups, although I was told that Meath have more work done than Roscommon at this stage, having completed a number of training sessions to Roscommon’s two.

  Roscommon were without the six players who had been on the Connacht team that lost in the inter-provincial final against Ulster earlier in the day. Nevertheless they performed well under the circumstances but one can never look too deeply into these fixtures in terms of a pointer to the new season. However, it was a useful encounter to allow players to blow the cobwebs away and to see them playing together.

  So what did we learn from a Roscommon point of view? Goalkeeper Mark Miley had to go off injured after only 16 minutes after a clash with a Meath attacker. Thomas Fetherston looked assured at full-back. Ultan Harney had a good first half in the middle of the field. Conor Devaney, Diarmuid Murtagh, Donie Smith and Andy Glennon all had good moments up front too.

  But Meath looked sharp, particularly in attack where Graham Reilly was a class apart, kicking four super points and Brian Sheridan was also a menace scoring two fine goals. Incidentally, former star full-forward Joe Sheridan came on at half-time as a sub between the posts! A strange departure, but one that was flagged in the national media last week.

  The first half saw the teams neck and neck most of the way. Andy Glennon scored Roscommon’s first goal in the 4th minute after a super knockdown pass from Diarmuid Murtagh but Meath were never out of touch and in the 18th minute they led by 1-5 to 1-3 when Donal Keogan rattled in a fine goal.

  With Diarmuid Murtagh and Conor Devaney in fine form, Roscommon were competing well and on the stroke of half-time Conor Devaney converted a penalty after Andy Glennon was fouled to send the sides in at half-time with the score at Roscommon 2-8 Meath 1-9.

  But Meath wasted no time in forging ahead again when 15 seconds after the restart, Brian Sheridan bundled in a goal. By the 40th minute the sides were level at 2-11 apiece but Meath kicked on after that.

  In the 43rd minute, Fiachra Ward scored a fine third goal for Meath and they didn’t look back after that. Both sides used plenty of subs after that and Meath scored their fourth goal in the 66th minute when Brian Sheridan bagged his second of the contest.

  The proceeds from the game were donated to the Shalom charity, which is spearheaded by Frenchpark native Fr Padraig Devine who was home from Africa and was at Saturday night’s game. Another fundraising game will be held on Monday, January 2nd between Roscommon and Kildare.

Note: This was the first game when the ‘mark’ was introduced and only one mark was claimed and that was by Roscommon midfielder Tadgh O’Rourke in the second half.

Meath: Jack Hannigan; Donal Keogan (1-0), Conor McGill, Michael Burke; Eamon Wallace (0-1), Donnacha Tobin (0-1), Shane McEntee; Cian O’Brien (0-1), Bryan Menton; Ruari O Collai (0-2), Graham Reilly (0-4), Paddy Kennelly (0-1); Bryan McMahon (0-4, 3 frees), Fiachra Ward (1-2), Brian Sheridan (2-0). Subs used: C O’Sullivan, J Wallace (0-1), S Lavin, C Downey, J Sheridan.

Roscommon: Mark Miley; Seanie McDermott, Thomas Fetherston, Davy Murray; Gary Patterson, Brian Murtagh (0-1), Ciaran Cafferky; Tadgh O’Rourke, Ultan Harney; Conor Devaney (1-3), Niall Kilroy (0-2), Ciaran Kilcline; Diarmuid Murtagh (0-6, 5 frees), Donie Smith (0-2), Andy Glennon (1-1), Subs: Darren O’Malley for Miley (16), Shane Killoran (0-1) for Kilcline (h/t), Paddy Brogan for McDermott (39),Henry Walsh for Smith (41).

Referee: Fergal Kelly (Longford)