The Classics Revisited

Earley’s recollection of late drama in ’89  The famine for Roscommon football fans was extending year by year. No Connact senior title had been won since 1980. In 1988 a new manager, Marty McDermott, took over the Roscommon senior football team and along with his selectors Sean Kilbride and John Kelly, they set about returning Roscommon football to the top. In their first year in charge Roscommon reached the Connacht final (after beating Galway) but Mayo proved too strong, winning by 1-12 to 0-8 at Hyde Park. However the Roscommon team was taking shape. John Newton and Seamus Killoran were forming a very solid midfield partnership while further back Padraig McNeill, Pat Doorey, Des Newton, Mattie Reilly and Gary Wynne were emerging as top class defenders. Up front Tony McManus was getting better with age and Paul Earley, Vinnie Glennon and Eamonn McManus Junior were maturing into top class players. In 1989 Roscommon qualified for the Connacht final to play Mayo. The first game at McHale Park was a great contest and finished level while the replay in Hyde Park was one of the most exciting Connacht finals ever seen as it took two periods of extra-time – and a bizarre goal – to separate the sides. 1989 Connacht SFC Final replay Mayo ………………………………………………………………………. 3-14 Roscommon  …………………………………………………………. 2-13 (after extra-time) In the summer of 1989 Roscommon began their championship campaign against Sligo at Dr. Hyde Park and they brushed aside the challenge of the Yeats County men, winning by 4-11 to 1-8. Tony McManus and Paul Earley did most of the the scoring damage, hitting 3-5 between them.   John O’Mahoney was the young up and coming manager of a very strong Mayo team and the sides went head to head at McHale Park, Castlebar on the 24th July, 1989.   Vinnie Glennon scored an excellent goal for Roscommon early on, but, aided by a brilliant display from Liam McHale, Mayo got on top and Roscommon were glad to emerge from the game with a draw — Roscommon 1-9 Mayo 0-12.   The replay was played in Hyde Park on Sunday, 31st July 1989 and  those who were there saw one of the most exciting Connacht finals ever seen in the long history of the game. The exchanges were tough in the opening 15 minutes and then the game burst into life. In the 19th minute Peter Ford, the Mayo full-back, fouled Paul Earley, and referee Mickey Kerins pointed to the spot. Tony McManus rolled in the penalty with consummate ease. It was helter-skelter after that. Noel Durkan rattled the Roscommon net after 26 minutes and at half-time the sides were level at 1-6 each.   Mayo came out fighting in the second half and scored four points in a row to lead by 1-10 to 1-6 within nine minutes. However Roscommon were not going to give in and points from Vinny Glennon (2) and Eamonn McManus Junior saw Roscommon back in business. As the game entered injury-time at the end of the second half, Roscommon were awarded another penalty. At that stage the score was was Mayo 1-11 Roscommon 1-9. A goal would surely give Roscommon the title after a gap of eight long years.   Tony McManus stepped up again and he crashed the ball high into the top right-hand corner of the Mayo net. Roscommon were leading