Salthill sinking leaves Rossies all at sea

Allianz National Football League Division One South (Round 2):

Galway 2-16 Roscommon 1-13

Roscommon now face a relegation play-off against one of the teams from Division One North following this disappointing six-point reverse at the hands of old rivals Galway in Pearse Stadium last Sunday. Perhaps even more importantly, this result hands the Tribesmen a timely boost ahead of the Connacht semi-final between these sides at Dr. Hyde Park on July 4th.

Following their thrashing by Kerry a week earlier, it was always going to be interesting to see how Padraic Joyce’s men would react and while they were much tighter in defence and sharper in attack, they still have much work to do to re-join the elite teams like Dublin and Kerry.

As for Roscommon, this was a very underwhelming display at times and they now know they will have to beat the likes of Monaghan or Armagh to prevent them sliding out of the top division once again.

   Similar to the performance against Dublin, there was no shortage of effort and industry, and David Murray, the returning Sean Mullooly, Niall Daly, Ciaráin Murtagh and Donie Smith all did well. But elsewhere around the field, Roscommon players were found wanting and too many times possession was squandered and too many soft scores conceded.

With eight minutes of normal time to go, Shane Killoran’s delivery was fisted to the net by Ciaráin Murtagh to reduce the margin to just two and give Roscommon a ray of hope.

However, Galway replied immediately to score their second goal when sub Tomo Culhane bundled past Colm Lavin after the ball was kicked in by another sub Dessie Conneely. Culhane appeared to be in the square before the ball arrived but the goal stood and Roscommon’s chances of a comeback ended with that controversial score. It was a slip up by David Coldrick’s umpires and it compounded the visitors’ misery.

Paul Kelly had rattled home a Galway goal in just the third minute and despite playing against the elements, the home side were always out in front with corner forward Robert Finnerty outstanding. The young attacker gave the Roscommon defence a torrid time and scored five first-half points. Ciaráin Murtagh and Donie Smith were keeping the scoreboard ticking over for Roscommon but at half-time Galway led 1-7 to 0-8.

  Roscommon manager, Anthony Cunnigham, said afterwards that the early goal left his side facing an uphill task.

“It was the worst possible start against the strong breeze. I thought that we played very well to get back into the match. For us to get a goal in the second half and then to concede one almost immediately afterwards was very disappointing and you won’t get away with that at this level of football.

“They have some top-class forwards like Shane Walsh and Damien Comer and young guys like Culhane and Finnerty so it was always going to be difficult for us.

“We have plenty to work on and we won’t be too downhearted. The 4th of July is the date we have to be ready for now and we will focus on that.

“We are not too far away, Galway are very hard to beat here in Salthill and they were coming off a big defeat last week and we have been looking at a lot of players.

“We are looking forward to the Kerry game (on Sunday). Any day you play in Division One you are learning. We will be playing to win and take the most we can out of it and then prepare for whatever comes up after that,” he said.

Man of the Match Robert Finnerty said afterwards that the Galway players were determined to produce a performance after their heavy defeat to Kerry.

“We wanted to bounce back and we are looking forward to playing Dublin now next weekend.

“We had a good start and often times we play better against the wind. After today we will take a bit of confidence going into the Dubs game and we are happy with the way we played and the way everyone worked,” he said.

It doesn’t get any easier for Roscommon. A rejuvenated Kerry – with in-form David Clifford in tow – come to Dr. Hyde Park on Sunday and then there is a relegation play-off against a team from Division One North the following week. At this stage it looks like that will be against Monaghan or Armagh.

Roscommon need to bring more energy to their play. Too often good moves ended up going laterally or backwards. Ciaráin Murtagh and Donie Smith accounted for 1-12 out of Roscommon’s total of 1-13 so other attackers will also have to find a way of getting in on the scoring act. Roscommon also struggled at midfield where Paul Conroy was outstanding for Galway.

Two very tough games coming up for Roscommon before a break of a month until the big game in Dr. Hyde Park against Galway on July 4th. The Rossies have a mountain of work to do before that crucial match because Sunday was a day to forget beside the seaside for Anthony Cunningham and his players.