Connacht FBD League Final
Galway 1-18 Roscommon 1-16
A third quarter surge, which saw Galway outscore Roscommon by 0-9 to 0-2, was key to the outcome of this ultra-competitive FBD League final played at the Connacht GAA air dome on Friday evening last. However, Roscommon never threw in the towel, and they were in the match right to the final kick with a flurry of late scores.
Speaking at full-time, manager Anthony Cunningham said he was pleased with how 2022 was progressing so far.
“It was a great experience for us. We’d be happy with progress. We had a lot of young players there in their first year of playing. Galway are very experienced and they are a fine team, but we’re happy with our work so far,” he said.
“It’ll be in the next couple of years that you’ll really see some of these young guys and the talent and the will that they have. We’re disappointed with the start of the second half that we didn’t get to grips with the game but they rallied late on and we were always in it”.
Roscommon were excellent in the opening half. Conor Cox was in superb form up front while Enda Smith, Ultan Harney, Cathal Heneghan and Donie Smith were also very prominent for Cunningham’s side. Three fine points from Cox (1 free) and another from Enda Smith saw Roscommon lead by 0-4 to 0-1 after only four minutes.
But Galway, with Paul Conroy outstanding, got into the match after that. Three points from Donie Smith (2 frees) and another from brother Enda saw Roscommon lead by 0-8 to 0-4 by the 22nd minute. The exchanges then became tetchy and it was clear both sides were determined to lay down a marker ahead of bigger tests ahead.
In the 24th minute, a sweeping Galway move involving Dessie Conneely and Patrick Kelly ended with Sean Flanagan fisting to the Roscommon net, and five minutes later it should have been goal number two for Galway but Johnny Heaney’s thunderbolt crashed against the Roscommon crossbar. By half-time, Roscommon led by 0-10 to 1-6.
At the interval Padraic Joyce rang the changes with the multi-talented Shane Walsh and powerful attacker Matthew Tierney coming on for the Tribesmen and they had an immediate effect on the game. Two points from Rob Finnerty, and other scores from Tierney, Paul Conroy and the very impressive Sean Kelly, helped Galway into a 1-15 to 0-12 lead by the 57th minute. Roscommon had gone 16 minutes without a score until Enda Smith pointed in the 46th minute.
Just when it looked like Galway would pull away, Roscommon got back into the match in the 60th minute when Enda Smith pounced for a fine goal. Cathal Sweeney scored two excellent points for Galway to extend their lead again by the 66th minute but Roscommon refused to lie down and they came strong towards the end of the game.
Points from Conor Cox (2 frees), Ciaran Sugrue and Ultan Harney kept the Rossies in the contest and despite a late scare for Galway, when Ciaran Sugrue had a chance of a goal before getting crowded out in injury-time, the Tribesmen had done enough to take the title.
So two very valuable work outs for Roscommon ahead of the big league clash against Cork at the end of the month and while Anthony Cunningham has seen a lot of fringe players over the past two weekends, the playing conditions will be so different when they venture outside to play in the National Football League in two weeks’ time.
“That’s (NFL) going to be difficult, Cork are absolutely flying it under new management. They’ve a lot of players back and it looks like they’ve even more players back from Australia and places, so they’re going to be really tough. They’re a top-class team. There’s nothing soft with Cork first and Meath the following weekend,” Cunningham said.
Of the new players to make appearances in this FBD campaign, Colin Walsh, Eoin McCormack, Shane Cunnane, Cathal Heneghan, Ben O’Carroll and Keith Doyle have certainly done enough to warrant further chances.
Note: Roscommon management decided not to use the number 23 jersey on the night as a tribute to the murdered Tullamore national school teacher Ashling Murphy and a minute’s silence was held in her memory before throw in.