Nicky Rackard Cup quarter-final
Louth 3-9 Roscommon 1-14
Roscommon’s defeat by Louth in the quarter-final of the Nicky Rackard Cup at Dundalk on Saturday last was a complete shock as they were the hot favourites to advance to the semi-final. Roscommon had overwhelmed Louth in their final league game in Athleague on April the 10th by 2-24 to 0-15 and London had blitzed Louth by 6-20 to 1-10 the previous weekend.
So the defeat was a huge disappointment for everybody involved in Roscommon hurling, none more so than the players themselves, who were gutted afterwards. However they should hold their heads up as it has been a very successful season so far with a Division 3B final victory and promotion to Division 3A achieved.
Louth played with the aid of a strong win in the first half and the scoreline was pretty even until just before half-time. Kevin Conneely opened the scoring for Roscommon with a point from play. The home side then replied with three points from Brian Corcoran (2) and Gerard Smith. Two frees from Gary Fallon and Micheal Kelly soon had Roscommon level.
Two Gerard Smith frees for Louth were matched by a Micheal Kelly ’65 and a Gary Fallon free to leave the sides level with 27 minutes gone. Three points from play by David Dunne (2) and Darragh O’Sullivan edged the home side into the lead again. However a Gary Fallon free left only two points in it as the half slipped into extra-time.
Unfortunately a late goal from Diarmuid Murphy sent Louth in to the break with a flattering 1-8 to 0-6 lead. Also before half-time threatened heavy rain arrived which caused the wind to drop considerably so it wasn’t the same help to Roscommon in the second period.
They started brightly with a good point from Declan Nolan but in the 6th minute came a 20-minute hold-up which seemed to take the wind out of their sails – literally. It was caused by was looked like a very serious leg injury suffered by Roscommon forward Gary Fallon. Thankfully Gary has made a good recovery and he was released from hospital on Monday.
Shortly after the game resumed the ‘wrong’ team got the crucial score when Diarmuid Murphy pounced to score a rather soft second goal for Louth. Johnny Coyne, who took over the free-taking duties from Gary Fallon, pointed a 50-metre free only to see it cancelled out by a Diarmuid O’Sullivan point. A Coyne free and a point from play from Kevin Conneely then reduced the margin to five points.
A David Kettle goal, after a good build-up for the home side, left Roscommon with an even steeper mountain to climb. However it was to be their last score and Roscommon laid siege to the Louth goal for the last 12 minutes. Michael Kelly and Johnny Coyne sent over frees before Johnny Coyne sent a super shot to the net with nine minutes to go.
However, and due to some desperate defending by Louth they could only pull back two of the three-point deficit thanks to a Johnny Coyne free and a Micheal Kelly ’65. Roscommon were extremely unlucky not to have sent the game into extra-time in those final hectic minutes.
Roscommon: Padraig Dolan; Shane Curley, Ian Delaney, Brian Donnelly; Sean Melia, Micheal Kelly (0-4), Padraig Kelly; Alan Moore, Declan Nolan (0-1); Peter Kelleghan, Kevin Conneely (0-2), Gary Fallon (0-3); Jamie Lawlor, Johnny Coyne (1-4), Eamonn Kenny. Subs: John Moran for Gary Fallon, Mike Keaveney for Kelleghan, Gerry Fallon for Jamie Lawlor, Mark McLoughlin for Eamonn Kenny.
Louth: J Connolly; M Wallace, C Kerrigan, A Wallace; R Byrne, D Horan, Donagh O’Sullivan (0-1); G Smith (0-3), D Dunne (0-2); D Kettle (1-0), S Callan, D Murphy (0-6); Diarmuid O’Sulivan (0-1) W Morrissey, B Corcoran (0-2). Subs: D McArdle for Diarmuid O’Sullivan, K McNally for W Morrissey.
Referee: Fergal Smith (Meath).