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Relegation looms after Tribal defeat




Allianz NFL Division One

Galway 1-17

Roscommon 1-10

It was Breffni re-visited for Roscommon footballers on Saturday last in Salthill when the Primrose and Blue never got going at all against a lively Galway side. In the end, a seven point defeat was an accurate reflection of the play in what was a very poor spectacle on a blustery and cold day.

  This latest performance must have left manager Anthony Cunningham and his selectors scratching their heads wondering how the team can play so well against Monaghan, Tyrone and Dublin and then so poorly against Cavan and Galway.

  The result now means that Roscommon must beat or draw with Kerry at Dr. Hyde Park on Sunday and hope that neighbours Mayo can do them a favour by beating Monaghan at MacHale Park, if they want to survive in the top division. Not too many people outside the county will be surprised that Roscommon’s Division One fate has come down to the final game, but having seen all their games, it would be a pity if they were relegated after putting in such an effort since the start of the year.

  But make no mistake, this was very disappointing. Roscommon won very few breaking balls in the centre of the field and the defence struggled to cope with the pace of Aintaine Ó Laoi, Shane Walsh and Danny Cummins. After Roscommon had played so poorly it was hard to believe that there were only two points between the teams by the 32nd minute (0-9 to 0-7) but a goal and two points for the home side before the half-time whistle put a completely different complexion on matters as the teams went in for the break. Now Galway led by a comfortable seven points. Roscommon were never going to bridge that gap the way they were playing, and so it proved.

  The second half of this game was a turgid affair with Galway holding on to the ball and scoring when they were able to engineer the space to do so. Roscommon did battle away but they could never get close to the home side and despite Conor Cox (by far Roscommon’s best player) rifling home a penalty in the 45th minute, Galway never looked troubled.

  Conor and Niall Daly battled incredibly hard throughout in defence although Conor was very lucky not to have been sent to the line for a rugby tackle on Shane Walsh early in the second half (he was shown yellow). Shane Killoran did well at midfield although Roscommon were second best in that department.

  Conor Cox ploughed almost a lone furrow up front for most of the match but he won some great ball and looked a threat all through. Cathal Cregg had a great first half but he faded out after the break.

   For Galway, Shane Walsh was again outstanding and he was well assisted by Aintaine Ó Laoi, Danny Cummins, John Daly, Tom Flynn and Gary O’Donnell. With Damien Comer and the Corofin players to come back into their team, this is a very accomplished Galway outfit who could yet have a say in the destination of the All-Ireland title before the year is out.

  For Roscommon, it’s down to one final throw of the dice at Dr. Hyde Park on Sunday next. The Jeckyll and Hyde nature of their performances in the league so far is a worry and the hope will be that Sunday next will be one of the good days. Maybe our ‘friends’ in Mayo will do us a favour too. It’s not over yet!


Galway: Ruairí Lavelle; Eoghan Kerin, Sean Andy Ó Cellaigh, David Wynne; Gary O’Donnell (0-2), John Daly (0-1), Gareth Bradshaw (0-1); Tom Flynn, Ciaran Duggan (0-1); Peter Cooke, Shane Walsh (0-4, 3 frees), Johnny Heaney; Danny Cummins (1-2), Michael Daly (0-1), Antaine Ó Laoí (0-4, 2 frees).

Subs used: Sean Kelly for O’Donnell (58), Finnian O’Laoi for Cummins (68), Padraig Cunningham for Walsh (70), Cein D’Arcy (0-1) for Flynn (72).


Roscommon: Colm Lavin (0-1, a ‘45); David Murray, Conor Daly(0-1), Gary Patterson; Conor Devaney, Niall Daly, Ronan Daly; Tadhg O’Rourke (0-1), Shane Killoran; Niall Kilroy, Cathal Cregg (0-1), Enda Smith (0-1); Ciaran Lennon, Conor Cox (1-4, 1-0 pen, 2 frees), Donie Smith (0-1, a free).

Subs used: Ultan Harney for E Smith (h/t), Sean Mullooly for R Daly (h/t), Aengus Lyons for D Smith (51), Colin Compton for Cregg (56), Hubert D’Arcy for Kilroy (63).


Referee: Conor Lane (Cork)

Creggs can upset the odds this Sunday!





Connacht Junior Cup ‘A’ Final

Creggs v Connemara on Sunday at The Sportsground in Galway at 3 pm




Creggs’ magnificent renaissance in Connacht Rugby can take another giant step when they face old rivals the Connemara All Blacks in the Connacht Cup final on Sunday in Galway. In their two league encounters this season the Connemara men prevailed and they will start out as favourites on Sunday but Creggs will travel knowing that they are well capable of landing the title for the first time in 26 years.

  Connemara are a fine side who are very physical and who are very strong up front. Former Creggs players will remember Henry O’Toole from many battles between the two clubs in the past and on Sunday his son Henry junior will hope to inflict damage on Creggs from his position in midfield or indeed at full-back.

  But Creggs will be aiming to disrupt the Connemara game and will hope to get the ball out to their impressive runners like the Dowd brothers, James Brandon, Eoghan Coyle, Mark Brandon, and Chris Duignan to name just a few. There are injury doubts over the participation of team captain Kevin Brandon and a decision on his participation will not be made until later in the week.

  Creggs will have to come up with a game plan that will stretch Connemara. Creggs head coach Pat Cunningham will have much to mull over this week as he prepares to send his troops into battle. This is a very young Creggs team and they have improved with almost every outing this season.

  There is no doubt that Creggs will be up against it on Sunday but it would be one of the greatest wins in the club’s history if the team were to land the Cup beating the ‘All Blacks’ in the process.

  If Creggs can keep it tight early on and get an even share of possession at the line-outs and in the scrum, they have the attackers to engineer the scores that can win the match. It would be great to see the likes of Tom Fleming getting a cup winner’s medal having played for over a decade and a half for the team.

  This final will revive memories of a golden age for Creggs Rugby which those of us who were around at the time will remember with great fondness. The great days of the likes of Kieran and Ger Dowd, Frank and Liam Brandon, Dinny Monaghan, Liam Callaghan and even the mighty Adrian Leddy to name just a few, can be repeated and Creggs can have new heroes to look up to.

  The most overused cliché in sports is ‘on the day’ but if Creggs can turn in their best performance of the season they can upset the odds and bring home the cup. It promises to be an epic encounter.


Prediction: Creggs

Seamus Duke on sport - March 22nd



Relegation creeps closer for Rossies

Who’d be a pundit? Just when I thought that Roscommon footballers had gotten rid of the dirty petrol in the engine after the poor display against Cavan, with a very good 50-minute effort against Dublin, it was back to the bad old days at Pearse Stadium last Saturday.  

  Roscommon simply never got going, and despite being within two points three minutes before the break, the team never looked like they were in with a chance and the goal and two points scored by Galway before the short whistle were decisive.

  Roscommon got hardly any breaks at midfield and Conor Cox needs more help up front. He was Roscommon’s best player by a country mile, and while Cathal Cregg had a good first half, our options up front are very limited at the moment. We need a fully fit Diarmuid Murtagh back on the team as soon as possible.

  It was a very poor game of football and while Galway did look good going forward, the jury is out on whether they have the team to challenge at the very highest level. They have some excellent, pacy attackers, but they are suspect in defence. But that’s for another day.

  Now Roscommon need a huge display at home against Kerry. Anthony Cunningham’s men have been very good in The Hyde against Monaghan, Tyrone and Dublin and we will need an even bigger effort on Sunday. Kerry losing to Mayo last Saturday was a bad result for Roscommon as they now need a point to get to the league final which means that they will have everything to play for. I would fancy a Mayo win against Monaghan in Castlebar but I fear that it may not be enough to save Roscommon’s bacon. But where there is life there is hope. When Roscommon are not expected to win is when they are at their best.

  This is the final competitive game ahead of what is a very difficult Connacht Championship campaign and a win against The Kingdom would be a big confidence booster ahead of the summer. The Roscommon players will have to dig deep one more time. It’s unlikely we will survive but you know, stranger things have happened!


Hope for challengers after Dubs’ defeat


Last weekend’s results in the football league were very interesting. Dublin losing a third game in the campaign has led to a suspicion that all may not be well in the camp of the champions as they prepare their five-in-a-row bid. The fact that the Dubs will not be in the league final for the first time since 2012 has given a boost to all the other major sides and Kerry, Mayo, Galway and Tyrone will all want to get to the decider now.

   I have to say that I was wrong about Mayo: I thought after the game against Galway they were finished but they were excellent against Kerry in Tralee. Aidan O’Shea played his best game for the county in a couple of years while his midfield partner Matthew Ruane looks a good player too. I expect them to beat Monaghan on Sunday next.

  Tyrone were really comfortable against Dublin at Croke Park and Jim Gavin has a lot of work to do ahead of the championship now. The champions’ full-back line looks weak and Gavin will have to carry out remedial work there ahead of the championship. I wouldn’t be writing them off yet.

World Cup arrives a year too late

In this column two months ago, I wondered if the World Cup was coming 12 months too late for this Irish team and it looks like the answer to that question is yes.

  While everyone gets so down in the dumps after a bad defeat, the reality is that Ireland are not as good as they thought they were before the Six Nations Championship started but are not as bad as we saw last Saturday in Cardiff.  Ireland were well beaten by a mediocre England team and were hammered by a very good Welsh team. They played poorly against Italy and Scotland and were reasonably good against France.

  But looking ahead to the World Cup the realistic prediction is that we have no chance of actually winning it. With luck we might get to the semi-finals and that’s as much as we can expect. A lot of our great players are suffering a loss of form. Lads like Rob Kearney, Rory Best, Conor Murray Johnny Sexton and Sean O’Brien have a lot of miles on the clock and maybe time is running out for them. They are not robots and maybe they are coming to the end of the line. They have been magnificent servants to Ireland and have brought us great moments over the past five years under Joe Schmidt so I wouldn’t be too hard on them.

  Just a word about Warren Gatland who would not be universally popular in this country for a number of reasons. He has been in charge in Wales for 12 years and in that time he has delivered three Grand Slams. That’s the same number as Ireland have won in their entire history! Gatland will be judged as a class coach and one of the all-time greats.

Delaney’s FAI ‘loan’ beggars belief

Just as the Irish soccer team start a new era under Mick McCarthy this weekend, it’s all overshadowed by the incredible story of John Delaney and his €100,000 ‘loan’ to the FAI. If it wasn’t so serious it would be one of the greatest jokes of all time.

  Delaney is one of the highest paid CEOs in world football and has been for over a decade. His €440,000 a year salary (during the boom) is now down to a miserly €360,000 a year which is telephone numbers of most ordinary people. But not only is Delaney been paid massive money, he was so flush that he was able to give his employers a load to tide them over a couple of years ago! It beggars belief.

  One thing that you can be certain of, Delaney will walk away scot free and will come up smiling and smelling of roses again. These people never pay a price for any indiscretions at all. He has so much power that there is no one able to challenge him. Is it any wonder why there are so many problems with the game in this country? It’s the international team at number one and little or nothing is done below that level.

Sporting highs and lows for CBS

It was a great week for Roscommon CBS. On Wednesday evening last they went down to an excellent Garbally side in the Connacht Schools Cup final but they lost nothing in defeat. There was a huge crowd and a mighty atmosphere in The Sportsground and the CBS battled hard all the way to the finish. But Garbally were just too powerful physically for them and they pulled away in the end.

  There was compensation for the school on Saturday afternoon as they hammered Summerhill College to win the Connacht ‘B’ SFC title in some style. They scored an astonishing 5-22 in the process. Now they face the Ulster champions in the semi-final and while it is very wise not to get carried away and take one step at a time, All-Ireland glory beckons if they can maintain their form.

Rory silences his critics!

Rory McIlroy silenced the critics with a very impressive win at The Players’ Championship at the weekend. Once again there was high drama in the last round as some of the top players in the world challenged for the title and the outcome was in doubt until McIlroy edged ahead over the final few holes. The big question now is can he add The Masters title to his major haul? Time will tell but he is back in the winning enclosure now and that’s a warning to the rest.


Kerry bring firepower to Rossies’ last chance saloon









Allianz NFL Division One (Round 7)

Roscommon v Kerry at Dr. Hyde Park, Roscommon on Sunday at 2 pm



The fact that Mayo went to Tralee last Saturday night and beat The Kingdom was a bad result for Roscommon. It means that Peter Keane’s men will need at least a draw to be certain of a league final appearance. They are sure to come with all guns blazing.

  Roscommon will take heart from the home performances so far in this campaign. Against Monaghan, Tyrone, and Dublin, Anthony Cunningham’s men were ultra-competitive and very unlucky not to have actually taken the two points against Tyrone. That late lapse against the Red Hand County could be very costly when it comes to 4 pm on Sunday evening.

  Roscommon’s form in this campaign must have the management tearing their hair out. Very competitive, hard-working and resilient in their three home matches, the team were completely out of sorts and played very poorly against Cavan and Galway and that is a big worry ahead of Sunday.

  I am not expecting many changes on the Roscommon team for Sunday although Conor Cox will need far more help up front if Roscommon are to win this game. Cathal Cregg had a good first-half last Saturday against Galway, but apart from that Cox was ploughing a lone furrow in attack and that will not be good enough to win this game.

  Against Galway Roscommon won very few breaking balls in the middle of the field. Jack Barry and Mark Griffin are the likely Kerry midfield duo on Sunday with the option of Tommy Walsh there as well and a share of the spoils possession-wise will be essential.

  Roscommon have been doing well defensively but it looks like on Sunday they will have to face new superstar Sean O’Shea, the returning James O’Donoghue, Paul Geaney and David Clifford (all likely to start) along with Stephen O’Brien and Tommy Walsh. Just to see those names in print sends shivers down the spine and make no mistake it will be a huge task for the Dalys, Davy Murray, Sean Mullooly and co. on Sunday.

  Of course Roscommon will be depending on Mayo to do them a favour and beat Monaghan in Castlebar. A week ago, I wouldn’t have held out much hope of that happening but Mayo were outstanding in Tralee and now with a place in the final up for grabs they should have the better of Malachy O’Rourke’s men at home.

  But that will be happening 60 miles away from Dr. Hyde Park and this is the last big test for the Roscommon team ahead of the championship in May and it would be a huge confidence-booster to beat the mighty Kingdom on home soil regardless of what happens elsewhere.

   At the risk of repeating myself, Division One is the only place to be playing league football and it would be a huge pity if Roscommon were relegated again having just come up last year. In this campaign we have seen some heart-warming and fiercely determined play for Roscommon especially in Dr. Hyde Park and that will be needed again on Sunday if Roscommon are to have a chance. The players will have to throw caution to the wind and get stuck in from the opening whistle. This is the last chance saloon. I hope that I am wrong but it looks like a bridge too far for Roscommon.


Prediction: Kerry


Ladies’ promotion bid dented




Lidl Ladies NFL Division Three

Sligo 4-7

Roscommon 2-8

Roscommon ladies footballers’ hopes of promotion were dealt a blow in Cloonacool, Co. Sligo last Sunday when they went down by five points to the local side.

  A total of four Roscommon players visited the sin bin at different stages in the game and that certainly did not help their cause on the day. Rachel Fitzmaurice was on target with a well-taken goal for Roscommon early on, but Sligo looked sharper, and goals from Emma Keaveney and Lauren Boles helped the home side to a 2-4 to 1-2 half-time lead.

  Laura Ann Laffey scored Sligo’s third goal shortly after the break which increased their lead but Rebecca Finan converted a penalty for Roscommon after 45 minutes to bring them back into the match. But when Keaveney scored her second and Sligo’s fourth goal in the 55th minute, the game was over as a contest.

  Roscommon now face a must-win game against Longford at Dr. Hyde Park on Sunday.

Roscommon: H Cummins; H Ennis, S Kenny A McLoone; J Cregg, S Bannon, N Feeney; A Ryan J Higgins (0-1); A Kelly, L Fleming (0-1), S Tully; R Fitzmaurice (1-0), R Finan (1-3), K Daly. Subs: R Brady, L Flynn, S Brady (0-3).


Scintillating CBS can go all the way!






Connacht Colleges SF ‘B’ Championship Final

Roscommon CBS 5-22

Summerhill College, Sligo 2-12




In the many years of playing in this competition, Roscommon CBS footballers reserved one of their finest ever performances for this decider at Bekan last Saturday. The Roscommon town school produced an attacking master-class on the day and now they will face next week’s All-Ireland semi-final against St. Patrick’s of Downpatrick with confidence.

  The CBS lads took the game to Summerhill from the off and although to concede 2-12 might be a slight worry to the management, some of their attacking play was out of the very top drawer. Liam Ormsby was the first Roscommon forward to break through for a goal in the 7th minute.

  Summerhill kept in touch with a Joe Spellman goal shortly afterwards but the Roscommon lads were dominant with Albert Looby and Keith Doyle in command at midfield. A string of four unanswered points followed quickly to give the CBS an early advantage. A fine point from the excellent Tim Lambe was followed by the same player scoring his side’s second goal in the 21st minute, and then less than a minute later Jack McGahon fisted home for goal number three.

  Jim Davis provided Summerhill with a glimmer of hope in the 27th minute with a well taken goal but by half-time Roscommon CBS led by a very handsome margin, 3-12 to 2-4.

  The Roscommon lads kept Summerhill at arm’s length in the second half, and at the end of the third quarter they produced some more attacking magic. Cian Murray scored a great goal with seven minutes to go and when Liam Ormsby fired home a penalty two minutes later, it put the icing on the cake.

  It was a classy display from Eoghan Coll’s side who will fear no one and although it’s one step at a time, this Roscommon CBS team are well capable of going all the way.

Roscommon CBS: G Rodrigues; J Browne, C Walsh, J Martin; C Glennon, J Lohan, C Murray (1-4); A Looby, K Doyle (0-2); T Lambe (1-6), C Lawless (0-4), R Walsh (0-2); L Ormsby (2-2), J Fitzpatrick (0-2), J McGahon (1-0). Subs: C Carthy for Looby, M Dunne for McGahon, K Brennan for Lambe, A Hession for Doyle, C McNamara for Ormsby.

Summerhill College, Sligo: J Teape; P Ward, M Connolly-McGowan, S Muldowney; D Williams, T Gavin, C Kevany; L Hogge, O McDonagh; E Smith (0-7), O Geraghty, J Davis (1-3); F Connolly, J Spellman (1-0), K Harte (0-2). Subs: M Walah for Kevany, J Hegarty for Connolly, K Harte for Ward.

Referee: G McMahon


Castlerea ready for Top 4 weekend




All roads lead to the Castlerea Enterprise Hub this weekend where Lonleitros Basketball League champions, Castlerea Kings, do battle in the Top 4 Cup from Friday (22nd) to Sunday (24th).

  The Kings will enjoy home court advantage when they face off against familiar foes Mayo Gladiators this Friday night at 8.30 pm. The Gladiators boast many former Kings in their ranks and managed to qualify for the Top 4 in this their first season. They also have a decent record against the Kings, having split the two games this season. They are also just one of three teams to have beaten the Kings this season and the only team in the Top 4 to have inflicted defeat on the champions.

  The Castlerea side will be relying on home advantage and a typically raucous hometown crowd to help spur them on to a final place.

  The Kings, of course, are currently on a seven-game win streak since their last defeat to the Gladiators in Barnacarroll back in December of last year.

  The whole squad has contributed to this recent success and features a consistent scoring threat from top marksmen, Thomas Callaghan and Joseph Henry, and the gargantuan post presence and passing subtlety of Joe Fleming. The dominant presence of guards Daniel Doherty and Sean McDermott, have helped the Kings to flourish since that defeat last Christmas. 

  Strength in depth has also been a key factor in this title winning run and Sean Moran, Garbhan Madigan and player/coach Michael O’Flanagan have the ability to come off the bench and change the pace in any game at this level. Josh McDermott and John McHugh are also capable of contributing energetic displays when given their opportunity. 

  The other Top 4 semi-final sees this year’s second-placed team Longford Torpedoes taking on Carrick Cougars at 4 pm on Saturday just a fortnight after the Cougars ended the Torpedoes’ title hopes in their final league clash.

  The Top 4 Final will be played on Sunday at 7 pm in the Hub.

  Also at the Hub this weekend, the Men’s Shield will be contested between the teams that finished fifth to eighth in the Lonleitros League. Top seeds Mohill Mavericks will play Sligo All-Stars at 2.30 pm on Saturday while Carrick-based ‘Lteam’ take on Athlone IT at 7 pm. 

  The Ladies’ Top 4 opens proceedings on Friday night at 7 pm as fourth seed Mohill take on the undefeated Mustangs of Castlebar. Whoever prevails will face the winners of Longford and Boyle (5.30 pm on Saturday) in the ladies’ final at 5.30 pm on Sunday. 


Dooner's weekend predictions - March 22nd



The pick of the action this weekend sees champions St. Peter’s travel to Ballymoe on Sunday for a game which could go a long way to deciding this season’s title race.

  Elsewhere, Ballinasloe Town take on Kilkerrin in the first round of the Premier Division Cup on Friday while Castlerea face a tricky tie in Moore on Sunday.

Friday, March 22nd

Raftery’s Oakland Hotel Premier Division

Ballinasloe Town v Kilkerrin United. 8 pm

The hosts will be favourites to take all three points.

Prediction: Ballinasloe Town

Sunday, March 24th

Raftery’s Oakland Hotel Premier Division

Ballymoe FC v St. Peter’s FC. 11 am

I fancy the champions to earn a very difficult point here.

Prediction: Draw

Norio’s Takeaway Division One

Cam Celtic v Rahara Rovers. 11 am

Home win.

Prediction: Cam Celtic

Moylough ’79 v Ahascragh United. 11 am

Home win.

Prediction: Moylough

CP Ajax v Ballaghaderreen FC. 2 pm

The Castleplunkett side really need a win this weekend to stay in touch at the top. Difficult to see past the visitors though.

Prediction: Ballaghaderreen FC

Ballinasloe Town B v St. John’s Athletic. 2 pm

The visitors are in fine form lately and will be expected to win in Ballinasloe.

Prediction: St. John’s Athletic

Killeen Sports Grounds Division Two

Glen Celtic v Skyvalley Rovers. 2 pm

The home side are favourites this weekend despite being held scoreless by bottom side Ballymoe FC B last time out.

Prediction: Glen Celtic

Hanly Quarries Premier Division Cup First Round

Dysart FC v Shiven Rovers. 11 am

Shiven should have enough to progress.

Prediction: Shiven Rovers

Moore United v Castlerea Celtic. 2 pm

The visitors will be heavy favourites to reach the next round.

Prediction: Castlerea Celtic


CBS underdogs set their sights on history




Top Oil Connacht Senior Rugby Cup Final on Wednesday, March 13th at The Sportsground,  Galway at 4 pm

Garbally College, Ballinasloe v Roscommon CBS


For Roscommon CBS to be in a Connacht Senior Cup Final is a truly amazing achievement and they know that they will have to play better than at any stage this season if they are to oust the defending champions and 46-time winners, Garbally College.

 Garbally will start the final as the firm favourites but the manner in which the Roscommon side overcame Colaiste Iognaid of Galway in the semi-final suggests that this may not be a foregone conclusion at all. Eimhin Griffith, Pat O’Farrell and the CBS coaches have done a marvellous job with this team and they have some wonderful players.

  The defensive prowess and the discipline shown by the Roscommon CBS lads was ever so impressive in that semi-final win and with the likes of Mark Purcell, Aodha Hession, Tom Farrell, Conor Rohan and Jack Tucker playing consistently well, Roscommon CBS will be hoping to be able to contain the powerful Garbally side.

  But there is no denying that this will be a very tall order for Roscommon CBS. Garbally demolished Sligo Grammar School 36-10 in their semi-final, scoring no less than six tries in the process. In Stephen Mannion they have a really classy out-half who scored a hat-trick of tries in the semi-final. Their two centres, Saul O’Carroll and James Carry, are also very accomplished players and their pack are led impressively by Patrick Grehan at number 8.

  Defence will be the key to the outcome of this final. If Roscommon CBS can show the same tenacity that they displayed in the semi-final against ‘The Jez’ then they are in with a huge chance of an upset.

  In schools rugby anything can happen and while the Ballinasloe College will be favourites to prevail, Roscommon CBS are in this final on merit and if they are still in the game with 15 minutes to go they can cause an upset and create history. But Garbally are favourites to claim a 47th title.

Prediction: Garbally College

Rossies fall to second half siege






Allianz NFL Division One

Dublin 2-14

Roscommon 1-12




The statistics will show that All-Ireland champions Dublin rolled into Dr. Hyde Park last Sunday and won by five points, but the story of the match will reveal that a very game Roscommon side showed scant regard for the reputation of the Metropolitans particularly in the first half of what was a very competitive and enjoyable game. In the end, the Dubs just had too much ring-craft and know-how and they closed out the win in a second half that saw Roscommon tire noticeably.

  It was entirely appropriate that on the day when the last link to Roscommon’s All-Ireland wins in 1943 and 1944, Liam Gilmartin passed away, that the two teams closest to his heart battled it out in front of a big crowd at Dr. Hyde Park. While Roscommon suffered another defeat and are now deep in relegation trouble, Anthony Cunningham’s men were back to the style that had won them many admirers in their opening three league games. They never dropped the head particularly in a thrilling first half and they can be well pleased with their display overall.

  When Con O’Callaghan crashed home Dublin’s first goal on 18 minutes to give them a five point lead, it looked ominous for the Rossies, but with Davy Murray and Niall Daly outstanding in defence, there was a defiance about the home side which meant that the Dubs were never comfortable.

  In the preview last week, I pointed out that the Dublin full-back line were vulnerable under the high ball and that was underlined once again when Cathal Cregg fired home a great goal in the 29th minute after a shot from Donie Smith dropped short.

  Indeed, Cregg and Conor Cox were outstanding in the Roscommon attack and points from Cox, Ronan Daly and Enda Smith saw the sides go in level at half-time at 1-9 apiece. Cathal Cregg turned in his most impressive half of football in a Roscommon senior jersey in that opening half. The Western Gaels man was sensational and covered acres of ground. It was such a pity he had to go off injured midway through the second period.

  When Roscommon scored the opening two points of the second half the big home following dared to dream, but Dublin had enough at that stage and they set about dominating possession like only they can.

They pinned Roscommon back, and Anthony Cunningham’s men were finding it hard to get out of their own half. But some of the defending was heroic as the Dubs probed looking for openings. Roscommon kick-outs were now going astray and Dublin were in control around the middle third.

  When Dublin’s second goal game in the 50th minute it was of the very fortunate variety as Dean Rock’s effort just about crossed the line after a scramble in the Roscommon penalty area. But with the game being played almost exclusively inside the Roscommon 45-metre line it was inevitable that Dublin were going to get scores, fortunate or otherwise.

  Once Dublin got a foothold they simply owned the ball and closed out the win in typical fashion. Roscommon tired after their huge effort in the first half and in the end the stronger team won the match. The fact that a lot of Roscommon’s second half kick-outs went astray didn’t help their cause either.

  It must also be said that the referee Padraig O’Sullivan from Kerry had a very poor game and a lot of the big decisions in the game went against Roscommon, which infuriated players and fans alike. However, the best team won the match on the balance of play.

  Apart from Cathal Cregg and Conor Cox, Davy Murray had an outstanding game and Cormac Costello, who had been the Dubs ‘superstar’ in their opening four games was kept at bay all through by the Pádraig Pearses man. Niall Daly, Enda Smith and Ciaran Lennon also did very well on a tough day for football.

  It was great to see Sean Mullooly back on the field of play and with John McManus back on the panel and Diarmuid Murtagh and Brian Stack to come back soon there is the nucleus of a very strong panel there for the championship this summer.

  However, this is the Division One, and Roscommon will now have an uphill struggle to maintain their status. The game against Galway in Salthill on March 16th is now absolutely huge. If Roscommon can bring last Sunday’s form into that match they will have a great chance of a win and survival. But for now, Roscommon fans will reflect on a great day out at Dr. Hyde Park against the All-Ireland champions, albeit a losing one. It was a marvellous occasion. Division One is the only place to be playing football at this time of the year. To stay there will be tough for Roscommon but where there is life, there is hope.


Dublin: Stephen Cluxton; Jonny Cooper, David Byrne, Andrew McGowan; Jack McCaffrey, Cian O’Sullivan, Cian O’Connor (0-1); Brian Fenton, Darren Gavin (0-1); Niall Scully (0-2), Con O’Callaghan (1-1), Colm Basquel (0-1); Paddy Andrews (0-3, 1 free), Dean Rock (1-5, 4 frees, 1 ‘45), Cormac Costello.

Subs: Robert McDaid for McCaffrey (10), Paul Mannion for Costello (45), Brian Howard for McGowan (52), Paul Flynn for Basquel (52).


Roscommon: Colm Lavin (0-1, ‘45); David Murray (0-1), Conor Daly, Gary Patterson; Conor Devaney, Niall Daly, Ronan Daly (0-1); Tadgh O’Rourke, Shane Killoran; Niall Kilroy (0-1), Donie Smith (0-1), Enda Smith (0-1); Ciaran Lennon (0-1 free), Conor Cox (0-4, 1 free), Cathal Cregg (1-0).

Subs: Sean Mullooly for Kilroy (52), Colin Compton for E Smith (52), Aengus Lyons (0-1) for Cregg (57), Conor Hussey for Killoran (59), Hubert Darcy for D Smith (64).


Referee: Pádraig O’Sullivan (Kerry)

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