Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Hurlers qualify for divisional final

Allianz National Hurling League Division 3B

Roscommon 2-24 Louth 0-15

Seamus Duke

Roscommon hurlers produced their best display of the league so far to defeat Louth in Athleague last Sunday and as a result they qualify to play Mayo in the divisional final, which will be held next weekend.

Played on a perfect day for hurling, Roscommon started on the front foot, got ahead early, and held off their opponents with the minimum of fuss to record a comprehensive victory.

Seamus Qualter will be delighted with the performance of this youthful Roscommon team who seem to be coming into form at just the right time with the final against Mayo coming up next weekend and the championship game against London on the horizon the weekend after.

Louth came to Athleague on the same number of points as Roscommon and a win would have saw them into the final but they were never in the hunt and were well beaten by the end of the game.

With the ball fizzing around the perfect surface, the sides shared four points in the opening three minutes with John Coyne and Micheal Kelly (free) on target for Roscommon and Brian Corcoran and Sean Callan on target for Louth. But once the very impressive Coyne fired Roscommon into the lead with a point in the 4th minute the home side never looked back.

Two minutes later Roscommon were through on goal and although Jamie Lawlor’s shot was saved, John Coyne was on hand to flick the ball to the Louth net to put Roscommon four ahead. The three points in a row from Gary Fallon and Micheal Kelly (frees) and Jamie Lawlor saw the Rossies pull further ahead.

With Coyne excellent from play and Gary Fallon unerring from frees it was always going to be Roscommon’s day. Louth did have some excellent strikers of the ball and Gerard Smyth and Ronan Byrne both landed frees from their known half to reduce the margin to 1-8 to 0-6. But Roscommon kicked on again with three unanswered points from Micheál Kelly and Gary Fallon (2), and by half time Roscommon led by 1-12 to 0-8.

The second half pattern was remarkably similar to that of the first. Louth were always able to get a score or two but Roscommon were dominant. The Wee County scored first through Diarmuid O’Sullivan but Roscommon replied with four points from Gary Fallon (2), Kevin Coneely and Padraig Kelly and the game was ended as a contest in the 6th minute.

Padraig Kelly and David Loughnane did the spadework to set up John Coyne and the Four Roads ace made to mistake with another very well-taken goal. Roscommon were now leading by thirteen points and in cruise control.

It was almost point for point from there to the finish. Gary Fallon landed three frees in a row to bring the score to 2-22 to 0-12 with ten minutes to go and at this stage Roscommon were home and dry and manager Seamus Qualter decided to empty his bench to give some panel members a run out. The scoring was completed for Roscommon with late points from Mike Keaveney and Peter Kelleghan.

This was a very satisfying win for Roscommon as Louth travelled to Athleague hoping for a win and a big performance and the Roscommon team management will be happy with their very young team, many of whom are still U21.

This weekend they will face Mayo in the division 3B final in a game that will see the winners promoted to division 3A. Earlier in the league Mayo defeated Roscommon, but the Roscommon camp feel they were a little hard done by on that occasion and they are really looking forward to another crack at the Mayo men. On the evidence of this display it should be a great contest.

Roscommon: Padraig Dolan; Shane Curley, Ian Delaney, Brian Donnelly; Alan Moore (0-1), Micheal Kelly (0-3), Padraig Kelly (0-1); John Moran, Declan Nolan (0-1); Peter Kelleghan (0-1), Kevin Conelly (0-1), Gary Fallon (0-10); Jamie Lawlor (0-1), David Loughnane (0-1), John Coyne (2-3). Subs: Gerry Fallon for Coyne, Mike Keaveney (0-1) for Gary Fallon, Sean Melia for Padraig Kelly, Mark McLoughlin for Delaney, Padraig Crehan for Curley.

Louth: James Connolly; Brian Hassett, Conor Kerrigan, Adrian Wallace; Donal McArdle (0-1), Ronan Byrne (0-1), Diarmuid Murphy (0-4); Donagh O’Sullivan (0-1), Shane Callan (0-1); Shane Fennel, David Dunne (0-1), Derek Horan (0-1); Brian Corcoran (0-1), Gerard Smyth (0-3), Diarmuid O Sullivan (0-1). Subs: Donal Rafferty for Hassett, Wesley Morrissey for Fennell, Gary Rellis for Smyth, Darren O’Hanrahan for Dunne, Kevin McNally for Corcoran.

Referee: Mike O’Connor (Limerick)

Stat Attack

Man of the Match: John Coyne (Roscommon)

There were many fine performances from Roscommon players. Ian Delaney Micheál Kelly and Padraig Kelly did well in defence while John Moran and Declan Nolan were on top at midfield. Gary Fallon was deadly accurate from frees and Jamie Lawlor and Kevin Coneely impressed too, but Coyne was on fire from the throw-in and had 2-3 scored from play before he had to go off injured in the second half.

Scores from Play: Roscommon 2-11 Louth 0-8

Wides: Roscommon 13 Louth 9

Weather: Warm and calm, perfect for hurling

Pitch: Excellent

Crowd Watch: Very disappointing, about 250 people in total

Entertainment: Fair, it was a one sided game but Roscommon played well.

Talking Point: Roscommon now qualify to meet Mayo in next weekend’s divisional final