Friday, 27 February 2015


Allianz National Football League Division 3

Roscommon 1-10 Antrim 1-6

Roscommon are back in the promotion mix after this four-point win against a very disappointing Antrim side at Dr Hyde Park last Sunday. It was a game that Roscommon could have won by at least ten points and a total of 12 wides, which included missing at least three ‘open goals’, would have cost them dearly on another day.

  Yet the outcome was in the balance until the final few minutes, and a brilliant penalty save by team captain Geoffrey Claffey with 12 minutes left was a major contributory factor to Roscommon’s win. But it didn’t need to be as close as that, as Roscommon dominated the play for most of the game and were much the better team.

  The home side started with Cathal Dineen, Niall Kilroy and Darren McDermott in place of Stephen Ormsby, Brian Murtagh and Donie Shine – and all three played very well. The game saw the return of Senan Kilbride who came on for the final twenty minutes as Roscommon tried to extend their lead.

  There was much to admire about this Roscommon display. Geoffrey Claffey had a super game between the posts, making a couple of fantastic saves, kicking really well and saving a penalty into the bargain. Neil Collins continues to prosper at full-back although he tends to leave his post on upfield sallies a little too often.

  Cathal Dineen had an excellent game, as did Ian Kilbride and Niall Daly in defence. Michael Finneran was again a major factor for Roscommon at midfield and is now one of the mainstays of this Roscommon team. 

  Up front the team performed well but missed far too many scores. Cathal  Cregg was again dominant at centre half-forward and Darren McDermott and newcomer Niall Kilroy were very prominent. Conor Devanney took his goal brilliantly and Ger Heneghan was also a threat. But Roscommon’s shooting was very poor at times and against better opposition it would be a very costly failing.

  Nevertheless it was a well deserved victory, but lest any Roscommon fans get too excited, Antrim were very poor on the day and never really got going. They scored a goal with their first attack but showed precious little after that. They lost by four points but it could have far more than that.

  In a game played on a perfect day for football, with almost no breeze, Antrim burst from the starting gate and with less than a minute gone they had the ball in the Roscommon net. Paddy Cunningham and Mark Sweeney combined and Michael McGill flicked home to give the visitors a great start. But even at this early stage, Roscommon looked dangerous going forward. Darren McDermott kicked a super point from 30 metres in the 2nd minute. Less than two minutes later Paddy Cunningham restored Antrim’s three-point lead when he converted a free after a foul on Michael McGill.

  Roscommon got right into the game over the next ten minutes and they established a lead that they were not to forfeit. Cathal Cregg powered through the Antrim defence in the 8th minute to point after receiving a brilliant pass from Michael Finneran. Less than a minute later Gen Heneghan scored from 35 metres after some more incisive Roscommon attacking play.

  In the 11th minute the home side scored a peach of a goal. Geoffrey Claffey’s booming kick-out was taken on by Cathal Cregg, and his pass in over the heads of the Antrim defence was fielded brilliantly by Conor Devanney, who blasted the ball high into the net. Roscommon 1-3 Antrim 1-1.

  Two minutes later Darren McDermott was on the mark again with a well-taken point from 30 metres and now Roscommon were ahead by three. However in the 14th minute Antrim broke through the Roscommon defence and a deft flick by Michael McGill was brilliantly saved by Geoffrey Claffey. A minute later Paddy Cunningham scored the point of the game thus far when he was on target from 50 metres out.

  Roscommon were wide with three efforts on the trot (two from Cathal Cregg) before Kevin Higgins ran through and fisted over in the 20th minute. Roscommon kicked two more bad wides, and in the 27th minute Michael McCann reduced the margin with a very well-taken point from 40 metres.

  Less than a minute later Ian Kilbride burst forward and kicked a superb point  after great work from Michael Finneran, and a minute from half-time Darren McDermott converted a free from 20 metres after a foul on Cathal Cregg. Half-time score: Roscommon 1-7 Antrim 1-3.

  The second half was low-scoring but incident-packed. Darren McDermott opened Roscommon’s account after five minutes with a free after Niall Kilroy was fouled, and in the 42nd minute Roscommon should have scored their second goal but Cathal Cregg’s shot was saved by the Antrim ‘keeper, Chris Kerr.

  Roscommon continued to dominate but kicked two more bad wides, and then in the 52nd minute Cathal Dineen joined the attack and pointed to leave Roscommon six to the good. Paddy Cunningham narrowed the gap with a 20-metre free in the 55th minute but just as it looked like Roscommon would win comfortably, Antrim were thrown a lifeline in the 58th minute. 

  Niall Collins pulled Michael McGill back as a high ball came into the Roscommon square, and referee Declan Corcoran pointed to the spot. Paddy Cunningham fired the penalty low and hard but Geoffrey Claffey got down well to make a fine save and – Roscommon off the hook.

  Then in the 61st minute Roscommon missed an open goal when sub Karol Mannion set up David Keenan and the St Barry’s man blasted the ball off the crossbar and away to safety with the goalkeeper beaten. It was an unbelievable miss and it left Antrim hanging in there.  

  From the resultant ’45 Ger Heneghan settled Roscommon nerves with a point and Roscommon had re-established their six-point lead. Late Antrim points from Paddy Cunningham and Thomas McCann saw Liam Bradley’s men narrow the gap but Roscommon were far enough ahead to ensure that there were to be no more late scares.

  It was a badly-needed and deserved win for Roscommon who now face their toughest test of the campaign, a long trip to Wexford Park on Sunday next. Des Newton will be encouraged by the effort and determination that the team showed in this game. However the team will have to start converting more chances as they missed far too many last Sunday.

Roscommon: Geoffrey Claffrey; Seanie McDermott, Niall Collins, Cathal Dineen (0-1); Ian Kilbride (0-1), Niall Daly, Sean Purcell; Michael Finneran, Kevin Higgins (0-1); David Keenan, Cathal Cregg (0-1), Niall Kilroy; Conor Devanney (1-0), Ger Heneghan (0-2), Darren McDermott (0-4). Subs: Karol Mannion for Higgins, Senan Kilbride for Devanney, Colin Compton for Cregg, Daniel Rogers for Dineen.

Antrim: Chris Kerr; Patrick Gallagher, Declan O’Hagan, Sean Finch; Tony Scullion, Justin Crozier, James Loughrey; Michael McCann (0-1), Conal Kelly;  Tomas McCann (0-1), Michael McGill (1-0), Michael Armstrong; Brian Neeson, Mark Sweeney, Paddy Cunningham (0-4). Subs: Aodhan Gallagher for Kelly, Martin Johnston for O’Hagan, Kevin O’Boyle for Gallagher, Conor Murray for Armstrong, P McBride for Loughney.

Referee: Declan Corcoran (Mayo).