Students give Rossies a stern test

FBD Connacht Senior Football League Round 1 Roscommon 0-12 NUIG 0-8

Roscommon had to dig deep to prevail against a well-drilled and at times impressive NUIG side at a bitterly cold Elphin last Sunday. This was more like it in terms of a test as the students were strong in the tackle and difficult opponents and it took a hard-working display from Roscommon to see them through. It was exactly the kind of hard game that Roscommon needed as they continue preparations for a huge season ahead in the National League Division One.

  A feature of the Roscommon play was their massive workrate. Every single player worked hard, tackling back and covering huge amounts of territory throughout what was a very enjoyable encounter. Cathal Cregg was again played in the half-back line but Niall Daly was played at centre half-back. Cathal Shine was positioned at full-forward and while he won a huge amount of ball he was called back out to midfield in the second half when NUIG were getting on top in that sector.

  Three Roscommon players lined out for NUIG: Davy Murray, John McManus and Kevin Finn.

  It was ultra-competitive and there were only three scores in the first 17 minutes of play with Niall Kilroy and Cian Connolly on target for Roscommon and Peter Cooke for NUIG. Then Roscommon took over and points from Ciaran Murtagh, Conor Devaney and two frees from Cian Connolly helped them to a 0-6 to 0-2 half-time lead.

  NUIG were much better on the restart. They reduced the deficit to just two on three different occasions with excellent points from Peter Cooke, Adam Gallagher, Kevin Finn and Michael Daly. But Roscommon could always keep the scoreboard ticking over and points from Niall Kilroy and Cian Connolly in the third quarter kept the Rossies ahead. Then in the final ten minutes points from Ciaran Murtagh (2 frees) and sub Senan Kilbride saw Roscommon home by four.

  Roscommon have now won two out of two but they were given plenty to think about by NUIG last Sunday. Seanie McDermott, Gary Patterson, Conor Devaney, Cian Connolly and Cathal Shine were impressive on the day. For NUIG, Davy Murray, Conor O’Shea, Peter Cooke, Davy Murray and John McManus were best.

  Roscommon joint managers Fergal O’Donnell and Kevin McStay and their selectors will be happy enough, however there were a few problems in the second half at midfield and even though Cathal Shine won an amount of ball at full-forward, not enough scores came from his endeavours. The management, players and supporters will know a lot more after next Sunday’s encounter against Mayo.

Roscommon: Darren O’Malley; Ronan Stack, Seanie McDermott, Conor Daly (0-1); Cathal Cregg, Niall Daly, Gary Patterson; Fintan Kelly, Ian Kilbride; Conor Devaney (0-1), Niall Kilroy (0-2), Scott Oates; Cian Connolly (0-4, 3 frees), Cathal Shine, Ciaran Murtagh (0-3, all frees). Subs: Kieran Kilcline for Oates (h-t), Senan Kilbride (0-1) for Kelly (45), Cathal McHugh for Connolly and Finbarr Cregg for Devaney (both 56).

NUIG: Donal O’Sullivan; Kevin McDonnell, David Cunnane, Davy Murray (Roscommon); John McManus (Roscommon), Lee Cullen, Adrian Nolan; Conor O’Shea (0-1), Peter Cooke (0-3, 1 free); Sean Moran, Michael Daly (0-1), Adam Gallagher (0-1); Kevin Finn (0-1), Eoin Finnerty, Cristor Davey (0-1). Subs: Enda Boland (0-1) for Cullen (18), Steven Conroy for Finnerty (27), Andrew McCormack for Davey (36), Aaron O’Connor for Nolan (44), Owen Gallagher for Moran (51), Eoin Lavin for Gallagher (58).

Wides: Roscommon 6 NUIG 5.

Attendance: 1,000 (approx.

Referee: John Glavey (Mayo).

Note: A big thank you for their hospitality to Elphin GAA Club who hosted the match at short notice.