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Roscommon hoping to end 33 years of hurt in Castlebar

 

 

While election counts continue around the country, Mayo and Roscommon footballers will be meeting at MacHale Park to try to top the poll and qualify for this year’s Connacht Final against Galway. The odds strongly favour a home win, but Roscommon’s preparations have been very much under the radar and Anthony Cunningham’s men will travel with quiet confidence that they can be the first Primrose and Blue outfit to win in Castlebar in the senior championship since 1986.

  So what are the prospects for this match? At the start of this year there were so many questions hanging over this Mayo side. Was manager James Horan right to come back? Was the defeat in Newbridge against Kildare last summer the end of this magnificent team? Had Mayo’s older players finally come to the end of their careers?

  Unfortunately from a Roscommon point of view, the answers to those questions are that James Horan has added a fresh impetus to this Mayo team. He has added some new players too and the older experienced warriors are playing as well as ever. In fact, there is an argument to say they are playing better than ever in some cases.

  Winning the National League has given them a huge boost and now they are once again on the trail of Connacht and All-Ireland glory. Many observers are of the opinion that Mayo are the only team capable of denying Dublin a fifth All-Ireland title in a row.

  So where does that leave Roscommon? The league campaign ended in relegation, but there have been some encouraging signs from the Rossies this year. There is no doubt that the team is fitter and stronger and that the strength and conditioning work that has been done has clearly paid off. But the big question is whether Roscommon have the players to beat this Mayo team on Saturday.

  The plain and simple truth is that Roscommon will have to play out of their skins and Mayo will have to have an off day if the visitors are to win. It’s not beyond the bounds of possibility however.

  Firstly, Roscommon’s kick-out strategy will have to be spot-on. In the modern game, primary possession is absolutely vital.

  The Roscommon defence will have to tackle hard and fair and will have to try to tie down the Mayo danger men. James Horan has attempted to introduce a lot of pace into his attack and players like James Carr, Fergal Boland, Jason Doherty and Darren Coen will cause havoc if not marked tightly. Sean Mullooly, Conor Daly and Davy Murray will have a big task in the full-back line. It also looks like Diarmuid O’Connor will be back from injury and he would be a big addition to the home side.

  However, the key battle in this game will be at midfield. The much-criticised Aidan O’Shea has finally found his best position, alongside the very impressive Matthew Ruane. Tadhg O’Rourke and whoever his partner is (Niall Daly or Enda Smith I presume) will have a huge task in this vital sector. O’Shea is the link man while Ruane motors forward. Anthony Cunningham and his selectors will have to come up with a plan to deal with the midfield area because it will be the winning and losing of the game.

  Mayo’s most dangerous line is their half-back line, and the likes of Paddy Durcan, Lee Keegan and newcomer James McCormack love to get forward. The Roscommon attack will have to push up on this Mayo half-back line and try to stop them attacking, which is no easy task.

  The Roscommon inside line will also be key on Saturday. Ultan Harney was deployed out the field against Leitrim and we will need him at his best again on Saturday. Conor Cox and Diarmuid Murtagh will have the job of getting the scores and if they get enough ball they will convert. It’s also likely that team captain Enda Smith will be back, and on his best day he can be a match-winner. I would like to see him deployed in the half-forward line where he can assist at midfield if required.

  When the sides met on the opening weekend of the National League campaign there was only a point between them, but I am not so sure that we can use that clash as any kind of a pointer to Saturday. It was a game played in the worst weather I have ever seen at an inter-county game, and both sides were in experimental mode.

  Roscommon have played in the last three Connacht finals (four, counting the replay in 2016) so the excuse of having an inexperienced team cannot be used. However, the rate of player turnover for a small county like Roscommon is absolutely massive. Of the Roscommon team that started against Leitrim, there were only four survivors from the team that started the 2018 Connacht Final against Galway, which is some change in less than a year.

  Make no mistake, Roscommon are travelling with a chance of a win, but it’s an outside one.  They will have to frustrate Mayo and deny them any space for over 70 minutes if they are to prosper. They will have to be in the game with fifteen minutes to go to have a chance. It has been thirty-three years since Roscommon fans have come back from Castlebar with a smile on their faces in the senior football championship. It’s a long, long time and I have written about that day in detail elsewhere in the paper this weekend.

  Remember that in 1986 Roscommon were not given a chance either, yet they pulled off a famous win. In sport anything is possible. To win this game would be one of Roscommon’s best wins in many decades and would open up all sorts of possibilities for the team.

Roscommon will derive inspiration from Cavan’s big win against Monaghan last weekend and it proves that anything can happen in the championship ‘on the day’.

  But one has got to be realistic too. James Horan is a very astute manager. He is too experienced to allow Mayo to be complacent and they will be ready for a fierce Roscommon challenge. I am expecting Roscommon to severely test Mayo but the home side will probably have too much firepower in the end.

Prediction: Mayo.

The 33-year itch…

 

 

 

Roscommon’s last championship win in Castlebar was in ‘86

 

The 1980s were a bleak time for Roscommon football. The brilliant team of the late 1970s and 1980 were by then a distant memory. Star players like Dermot Earley, Pat Lindsay, Tom Heneghan, John O’Connor, Mick Finneran and Seamus Hayden had moved on.

  At the beginning of 1986 Mayo were joint favourites to win the All-Ireland senior football title.

When Roscommon were drawn to play Mayo in the first round of the Connacht SFC in 1986, they were not given a hope by anyone of beating their neighbours at MacHale Park in Castlebar.

  However, a quite brilliant display from Roscommon and the two McManus brothers – Tony and Eamonn – in particular, helped Roscommon to one of the sweetest wins they had in the Connacht Championship in many years.

 

Mayo 0-12

Roscommon 1-11

(at MacHale Park, Castlebar)

 

What happened on the June 15th, 1986 on a sweltering day in Castlebar restored many people’s faith in Roscommon football.

  It was a searing hot day in Castlebar and the 17,500 crowd were treated to a real humdinger of a championship game which began in sensational fashion. After ninety seconds of play Tony McManus netted what was probably the finest goal he scored in his long and distinguished football career in championship football. Seamus Killoran fielded brilliantly at midfield, he passed to Tom Óg O’Brien, who spotted Tony Mac free down the centre and after one hop and a solo he unleashed a fantastic shot from twenty yards into the top corner of the Mayo net.

  A minute later, Paul Earley rattled over another Roscommon point and corner-forward Adrian Garvey raced through for another Roscommon score in the 7th minute to give the Primrose and Blue a shock five-point lead.  

  Rattled, Mayo gradually got going and points from Jimmy Maughan, Kevin McStay and Padraig Brogan saw them back to within two by the 19th minute.

  Tony Mac scored another great point on the stroke of half-time and at that stage Roscommon led by 1-5 to 0-4. Liam MacHale’s shot came back off a post in the 10th minute of the new half. Meanwhile, Gay Sheerin made two brilliant saves to deny Padraig Brogan first, and then Willie Joe Padden. Willie Joe Padden’s point in the 16th minute of the second half brought the margin back to two and Brogan reduced the gap even further with a point from a free two minutes later.

  After Brogan equalised with 13 minutes to go, the crowd expected that Mayo would go on and win it.

But Roscommon pulled two clear again with points from Paul Earley and Adrian Garvey. However, Padraig Brogan was the one Mayo player who was excelling. He kicked a mighty 35-metre point in the 27th minute and a converted free from the same player levelled the scores. Now a draw looked odds-on.

  However, the McManus brothers had other ideas. As the clock ticked past 35 minutes, Tony Mac gained possession almost 60 yards from the Mayo goal and turned and kicked an outrageous point that brought the Roscommon supporters to their feet. There was even more excitement on the kick-out when Eamonn McManus caught the ball and powered over another brilliant point. Then Mickey Kearns blew the final whistle and it was all over.  

  The Primrose and Blue supporters swarmed onto the MacHale Park pitch to celebrate with their heroes. I recall heading back to Ballinlough that evening where a brilliant night was had by one and all all in Fitzmaurice’s bar.

  It’s hard to believe that Roscommon have not beaten Mayo in the senior championship in Castlebar since that famous day. It’s time that gap was bridged!

Roscommon: Gay Sheeran; Gary Wynne, Pat Doorey, Harry Keegan; Paul Hickey, Gerry Fitzmaurice, Danny Murray; Seamus Killoran, Padraig McNeill; Eamonn McManus Junior, Tony McManus (1-3), Eamonn McManus Senior (0-3); Tom Og O’Brien, Paul Earley (0-3), Adrian Garvey (0-3). Subs: Pat Gaynor for Killoran, Seanie McNeill for O’Brien, Anthony McManus for Doorey.

Mayo: Eugene Lavin; Martin Carney, Peter Ford, Jimmy Browne; Frank Noone, PJ McGarry, John Finn; Liam McHale, Willie Joe Padden (0-1); Padraig Brogan (0-8), Jimmy Burke, Noel Durkin (0-1); Tom Reilly, Jimmy Maughan (0-1), Kevin McStay (0-1). Subs: M Fitzmaurice for Maughan, MJ Mullan for McStay, J Lindsay for Noone.

Referee: Mickey Kearns (Sligo).

 

 

Connacht SFC: It’s oh so quiet…shhh!

 

 

 

‘It’s definitely this Saturday?’

‘Yes, this Saturday down in Castlebar!’

‘Are you sure?’

‘Yes, of course I’m sure!’

‘So…what’s the manager saying?’

‘Nothing…’

‘Oh. The players’ confident at least?’

‘Not sure, they’re not saying much either.’

‘Oh well that’s fair enough, I suppose.’

‘Yeah, just flying under the radar.’

‘This week should be fun so…’

 

There’s been an eerie silence around Roscommon this week as the senior footballers prepare to take on arch rivals Mayo in the Connacht Senior Football Championship semi-final in MacHale Park on Saturday evening. No press night, no telephone interviews, and no photo opportunities. Just the sound of silence as the team led by Anthony Cunningham attempts to end the 33-year Castlebar hoodoo.

  ‘What would you expect them to say?’ you ask.

  ‘It’s going to be very tough. Mayo are the National League champions and one of the favourites for the All-Ireland this year.’

  ‘Lookit, we haven’t won down there in 33 years, we’re under no illusions as to how difficult this will be.’

  ‘We’ll go down there ready to give this an almighty rattle.’

  While not ideal in terms of coverage, the silence is understandable in a way. It has, after all, been over three decades since Roscommon supporters last celebrated a win over the neighbours in a championship match in Castlebar. A long time…surely everything that could be said about that record has been said by now?

  Sometimes less is more and if anything the silence has added a little bit of mystery to this Roscommon team as they work hard to pull off what would be a major upset. If it works and the Castlebar spell is broken they will have been justified in just getting on with things. If not, well then it’ll be interesting to see if this approach continues ahead of the qualifiers.

  One thing is for certain however: we’ll definitely have a full match report and reaction in next week’s paper!

Youngsters storm back to beat Tribesmen

 

 

 

 

 

 

Electric Ireland Connacht MFC (Round Robin - Round 1)

 

Roscommon 1-17

Galway 1-15

 

 

A scintillating second half display, which saw the home side outscore Galway by 1-11 to 0-4, ensured that Roscommon opened their 2019 campaign with a thrilling win at Dr. Hyde Park last Friday night.

  There didn’t look much prospect of a Roscommon victory when they were comprehensively outplayed in the opening half, at the end of which they trailed by 1-11 to 0-6 and were struggling, particularly in defence. To add to Roscommon’s woes, talented centre half-forward Daire Cregg was stretchered off in the 16th minute with a nasty knee injury.

  But Emmet Durney’s side were transformed in the second period. They attacked the ball with aggression and purpose and the whittled away the Galway lead with some fantastic scores, not least a spectacular goal from sub Aaron Oyiki in the 47th minute. Castlerea’s Adam McDermott was also outstanding, scoring 0-7 on the night, five from play. Others to shine for Roscommon were Patrick Gavin, Sean Trundle, Jack McDermott and Cathal Feeley.

  It was a lively contest from the opening whistle and it was Galway who dominated for the most part. They led by 1-6 to 0-3 after twelve minutes with Nathan Grainger the goalscorer after a terrible mix-up in the Roscommon defence. Roscommon were clinging on but were struggling to cope with the Galway attack and by half-time the visitors led by 1-11 to 0-6.

  But Roscommon were a different prospect on the resumption. Within ten minutes the margin was down to three points (1-12 to 0-12) with McDermott, Cathal Feeley (2), Eoin Colleran, Jack McDermott and Sean Trundle (free) all on target.

  In the 44th minute McDermott narrowed the gap even further with a pointed free and then in the 49th minute Roscommon sub Aaron Oyiki lit up Dr. Hyde Park with a magnificent goal. The long ball knocked down to him saw him in possession twenty yards out and with supporters and teammates screaming at him to kick a point, he blasted an exocet missile into the top corner. Two goalkeepers would not have saved the shot and now Roscommon were in business, and ahead in the game for the first time.

  Galway kicked two points from Tomo Culhane (1 free) to edge ahead again by the  53rd minute but Roscommon were not to be denied. McDermott kicked three mighty points on the spin (one free) and when Cathal Feeley landed a great score in injury-time, the home side had done enough. Roscommon will now play Mayo in Ballina on Friday night.

  After the match the Roscommon team manager Emmet Durney was relieved with his side’s second half display. 

  “We were rocking at half-time, we didn’t show enough aggression in the first half. We were too slow on to the breaking ball and then we lost Daire Cregg which was a huge loss to the team. But I have great faith in these lads. There is great bravery, courage, commitment and determination in them and those qualities all came to the fore in the second half.

  “Adam (McDermott) and Cathal (Feeley) got some great scores and then the big man came on and got a great goal. But we said at half-time that if we didn’t take the game to Galway they were going to roll over us. We had to dig in.

  “It’s a great win but it’s only the first game and we have to get ready to go to Ballina and play Mayo now and that will be a whole different challenge. But we will travel with momentum after tonight and I’m delighted for the lads,” he concluded.

Roscommon: James Costello; Patrick Gavin, Tom Shine, Conor Lohan; Cian Glennon, Oisin Cregg, Sean Trundle (0-2, 1 free); Ruaidhri Fallon, Jack McDermott (0-1); Cathal Feeley (0-3), Daire Cregg (0-1), Mark Purcell (0-1); Ben O’Carroll, Eoin Colleran (0-2), Adam McDermott (0-7, 2 frees).

Subs: Mark Naughton for Cregg (16), Aaron Oyiki (1-0) for Purcell (38), Jack Downey for Shine (40), Evan Corcoran for O’Carroll (53), Shane Keenan for Fallon (59).

 

 

Galway: Donie Halloran; Jonathan McGrath, Ruari King, Liam Tevnan; Ethan Fiorentini, Darragh Kennedy, Daniel McNulty (0-1); James McLaughlin, Daniel Flaherty; Alan Naughton (0-2, 1 free), Daniel Cox (0-2), Dylan Brady (0-1); Nathan Grainger (1-1), Tomo Culhane (0-7, 4 frees), Warren Seoige.

Subs: Niall Cunningham, for Brady (41), Cian Hernon for McNulty (42), Kyle O’Neill for Kennedy (51), Mark Colleran for O’Flaherty (59), Shane McGrath for Culhane (61).

Referee: Paul Lydon (Mayo)

 

St. Peter’s FC complete double with four-star show

 

 

Joe’s Bar RDFL Challenge Cup Final

 

St. Peter’s FC 4

Moore United 0

 

St. Peter’s dominance of the Roscommon club soccer scene continued in emphatic fashion in Lecarrow last Sunday when they brushed aside the challenge of Moore United to land their second league and cup double in a row. Moore displayed plenty of effort and enthusiasm, but Peter’s’ superior class and skill were the difference and in truth they never looked in trouble.

  On the day that the league opened the magnificent new John Sherlock Stand at their headquarters in Lecarrow, there was a very good crowd at this cup final but it was one-way traffic for the most part. After they had spurned a number of chances, Peter’s opened the scoring in the 15th minute. The ball fell to captain Niall Scullion on the edge of the area and he curled a great shot inside the post to give his side a deserved lead.

  Mick Lee should have got number two a couple of minutes later but his snap-shot flew into the side netting. But Peter’s doubled their lead in the 20th minute. Adam McManus had made a good save from a Mark Sherlock shot but the centre forward picked up the rebound and squared for Gary Stephens who tapped in from five yards.

  Stephens missed another good chance two minutes later and Moore, who were living on scraps up front, had their one and only first half chance when Charlie Nevin’s flick was well saved by Eoin Hardiman. As it was, Peter’s were two ahead at the break and looking comfortable.

  Moore enjoyed their best spell in the first 15 minutes of the second half but they could make little inroads on the Peter’s’ defence, in which Niall Scullion was superb. Then the game was ended as a contest in the 65th minute. David Donaghue’s brilliant cross was met powerfully by Chris Reid who blasted the ball in off the Moore crossbar.

  Both sides emptied their benches in the last ten minutes and in the 89th minute St. Peter’s got their fourth goal following a calamitous mix-up in the Moore defence with sub Aidan Ward the man to pass the ball into an empty net.

  St. Peter’s manager Padraig Moran was full of praise for his players and what they have achieved over the last two seasons.

  “I could not be any prouder of these players. They are so professional. I was late coming in as manager but they have bought into everything that we are doing. They work so hard.

  “I have very good players to work with. A lot of them have played League of Ireland and at the top level in junior soccer and they deserve all the plaudits here today. We will celebrate this now and we will give the players a rest and we will get ready for next season again. It been a great season and it’s all down to the players,” he concluded.

St. Peter’s: Eoin Hardiman, Brandon Lowbridge (Luke Francis 70), Conor Duignan (Jason Nugent 56), Ian Dempsey, Niall Scullion, Chris Reid, Daragh Concannon, David Donaghue, Mark Sherlock (Keith Mullarney 89), Gary Stephens (Aidan Warde 86).

Moore United: Adam McManus, Reece Moran (Andy Hussey 85), Johnny Hession (Mike Carty 88), Steve Flynn, Shane Dunning (Eoin McManus 68), Rory Ryan, Gerry Kelly (Liam Ryan 68), Emmett Kenny, Andy Nevin, Charlie Nevin (Barry Johnson 88).

Referee: Gerry Carmody

London win seals semi-final spot

 

 

 

Christy Ring Cup Round Two

Roscommon 1-25

London 2-12

Roscommon hurlers’ remarkable renaissance continued at McGovern Park, Ruislip when they had ten points to spare against London on Saturday last. This latest win ensures Ciaran Comerford’s men a place in the Christy Ring Cup semi-finals with one round of games to go (against Meath) next weekend.

  Two red cards shown to London players Cormac Thornton in the 27th minute and Lee Murphy with 20 minutes to go certainly didn’t help their cause but Roscommon played some delightful hurling throughout with Pádraig Kelly outstanding. The Four Roads man scored seven points from play in a man of the match performance.

  Roscommon, with Kelly (from play) and Cathal Dolan (frees) deadly accurate, had their noses in front by 0-11 to 0-9 at half-time. A string of unanswered points saw Roscommon pull clear early in the second half.

  Despite scoring a fine goal from Mark O’Dwyer, London were struggling with 13 men. Conor Mulry got Roscommon’s goal and London’s final minute goal from Colin Nelson was of consolation value only.

  Best for Roscommon on the day were the aforementioned Pádraig Kelly and Cathal Dolan, Shane Curley, Paul Kenny and Eamon Flanagan. 

Roscommon: N Fallon; P Kenny (0-1), P Nolan, H Rooney; A Moore, E Flanagan, C Coyle; D Heavey, S Curley (0-1); N Connaughton (0-2), P Kelly (0-7), G Keenan; C Mulry (1-1), C Egan (0-1), C Dolan (0-10). Subs: E Kenny (0-1) for Moore, G Egan (0-1) for Keenan, M Kelleghan for Mulry, J Donnelly for Rooney, C Coyle for Kenny.

Ladies hammer Leitrim to reach final

 

 

 

TG4 Connacht Ladies Football IFC

 

Roscommon 6-13

Leitrim 2-10

 

Roscommon Ladies footballers were expected to win this game comfortably and that’s what transpired at the St. Mary’s GAA grounds in Carrick-on-Shannon. Now Michael Finneran’s team will take on Sligo in the Connacht final in a repeat of last year’s decider. Three goals in the first five minutes were key for Roscommon who led at half-time by 4-5 to 2-2.

  Jenny Higgins grabbed two of those early goals with Laura Fleming getting the third. Rebecca Finan added to Roscommon’s goal tally before the break. Then Alanna Hanmore and Aimee O’Connor added further Roscommon goals in the second half as the visitors emptied their bench. Natalie McHugh made a welcome return to the team - playing the first half – following a long-term injury.

Roscommon: H Cummins; H Ennis, A McLoone, M Kelly; S Bruen, T Murtagh, A Kelly; S Kenny (0-1), J Higgins (2-3); S Tully, A Hanmore (1-1), N McHugh; R Finan (1-3), L Fleming (1-2), R Fitzmaurice (0-2). Subs: S Glennon (0-1) for McHugh, A O’Connor (1-0) for Finan, R Brady for Murtagh, L Brady for Glennon, K Daly for Fleming.

Seamus Duke on sport - May 24th

 

 

Rossies hoping for unfamiliar result

 

It’s a huge weekend for Roscommon senior footballers, and for the Roscommon supporters and media alike we will be travelling a familiar road on Saturday evening on the way to MacHale Park.

  It is hard to believe that it is all of 33 years since Roscommon won in Castlebar and that statistic has to fall by the wayside some year or other. Some of our most difficult championship days have come there over the years and it would be one of the best wins in many decades if Anthony Cunningham’s men were to triumph there on Saturday. We go there with a chance but it would be unrealistic to expect a win.

  Mayo will have a huge crowd there expecting another win. It will be well contested but if Roscommon were to win it would shake the championship up big-time. We can only hope and pray! 

  Our minors are also playing Mayo on Friday night in Ballina. They were superb in the second half against Galway last weekend and hopefully they can draw inspiration from that display. It is absolutely ridiculous that this game is being played on Friday night so far away. What was wrong playing it as part of a triple-header on Saturday in Castlebar? As it stands, very few Roscommon people will bother to travel to Ballina on Friday night especially when there is another big game in Castlebar the following day.

  In addition, not many Rossies will be in MacHale Park in time for the U-20 match at 3 pm on Saturday. Then there is a junior game of no interest to Roscommon at 5 pm as Mayo play Leitrim. It would mean Roscommon people leaving home at 1 pm in many cases and not getting back home until after 11 pm on Saturday night. Those fixtures just don’t make sense at all.

  However, well done to the Roscommon minors last Friday night on their brilliant comeback against Galway. The game was lit up by one of the finest goals I have seen scored at Dr. Hyde Park when Roscommon sub Aaron Oyiki buried the ball in the top corner at the cemetery end of the ground from 20 yards out to aid that Roscommon comeback. It was worth going out to the match to see that goal alone.

Hurlers deserve great praise

 

The transformation in the fortunes of the Roscommon senior hurlers is one of the local sports stories of the year. Not only did they reverse the 26-point beating that they got from Kildare last year but they went to Ruislip and beat London by ten points to qualify for the Christy Ring Cup semi-finals. The way they are playing they could easily make it to the final, which would be some achievement.

  Meath look the best team in that competition this year but Roscommon look as good if not better than any of the rest. Ciaran Comerford and his players deserve great praise for their efforts.

 

Don’t rule out a shock in ‘Paradise’

 

The Leinster v Munster match in the Pro14 semi-final last weekend was a damp squib. I was very disappointed with Munster who seem to be in turmoil behind the scenes at the moment.

  Leinster were very strong but they seem to be suffering from a hangover after losing the Champions Cup Final. They will have to improve if they want to beat Glasgow who have a very good side, and who will relish taking on Leinster at Parkhead on Sunday in the final.

  There will be a super atmosphere at Celtic’s home ground for this final and while Leinster will be the hot favourites to win another title, Glasgow will give them plenty of problems. Don’t rule out a shock.

 

Ulster throws up two thrillers!

 

Could it be that the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship is to provide us with some top class entertainment this year after years of watching the hurling totally dominate in terms of thrills and spills?

  Last weekend in Ulster there were two very good games. Cavan were excellent as they dumped Monaghan out on Saturday night. It may not have been a great game in terms of quality but there was plenty of drama.

  The Down v Armagh game on Sunday was a thriller laced with top class scores and loads of drama and controversy. It’s early days yet but the signs are good.

 

Koepka comes good to land major

 

For most of the way the US PGA Championship was looking like it would be the most boring golf major ever played as Brooks Koepka led the field a merry dance for three and a half rounds. But he had a wobble on the back nine before he steadied up to win in the end by two. The fact that he has won four majors in the past two years is some achievement. It’s like what Tiger Woods was doing in his prime. But Koepka comes across as being very machine-like and a dour character.

  The next major is only three weeks away as the US Open will be staged at Pebble Beach in California. The Tiger will be back for that one. It’s a course he loves and always plays well on. Oh and by the way, I tipped Brooks Koepka to win here last week. That’s the two major winners correctly predicted this year so far. It’s nice to get an odd one right!

 

Hyde stroll sets up Mayo meeting

 

 

 

Connacht SFC Quarter-Final

Roscommon 3-17

Leitrim 0-12

 

Most observers, this writer included, were of the opinion that Leitrim would provide far more of a test for Roscommon in the championship this year following their good run and promotion in the National Football League but if anything this match was even more one-sided than the clashes between the two over the past few years as Roscommon swept Terry Hyland’s men aside with a very impressive display of powerful attacking football.

  The difference between the sides in terms of conditioning and strength was obvious from the first whistle. Roscommon players were strong in the tackle, won most of the 50/50 balls and once they got their eye in, attacked with purpose and were clinical for the most part.

  Three well-taken goals in the first half were key, and in fact, by half-time it could easily have been six for the home side as Diarmuid Murtagh, Ultan Harney and Shane Killoran missed gilt-edged chances. Leitrim were not able to cope with the direct running of Killoran, Harney, Hubert Darcy, Niall Daly and Niall Kilroy. It meant that Killoran, Conor Cox and Diarmuid Murtagh prospered inside.

  Of course no one will be getting carried away as Roscommon now turn their attention towards MacHale Park on Saturday week. The challenge coming from Mayo will be several levels above what we saw in Dr. Hyde Park last Sunday but there are a number of positive signs from Roscommon.

  The strength and conditioning work being carried out by Noel Flynn is certainly bearing fruit. Roscommon are looking much sharper and stronger this year and they will need every bit of that improvement for Saturday week.

  I was impressed with Tadhg O’Rourke and Shane Killoran in the engine room, but Aidan O’Shea and Matthew Ruane will provide a much stiffer test on Saturday week. Hubert Darcy can be well pleased with his debut and Conor Cox and Diarmuid Murtagh are two excellent inside forwards. Ultan Harney looked back to his best and in defence Davy Murray, Niall Daly and Ronan Daly did well.

  For a very disappointing Leitrim outfit Shane Moran was the only player who could say he beat his man on the day. The big Fenagh man was sited at full-forward and he caused lots of trouble for the Roscommon defence but he was almost a lone light in the darkness for a well-beaten Leitrim team.

  Roscommon kicked some bad wides (11 in all), particularly in the opening ten minutes and while it might be seen as nit-picking to be complaining after a 14 point win, Roscommon will have to take most of the chances they get against Mayo or it will be another long journey home from Castlebar.

  But I am encouraged by what I saw in Dr. Hyde Park on Sunday. Roscommon will travel to Castlebar with a chance, albeit an outside one but it’s a chance nevertheless.

  For Leitrim this was a massive disappointment. Even a cliché like ‘back to the drawing board’ seems inappropriate in the circumstances. It was another heavy defeat for them and most of the second half was played in almost total silence. It was like a training session as Roscommon pulled further and further ahead.

  MacHale Park will be a different kettle of fish altogether.

 

Roscommon: Darren O’Malley (0-1, ’45); Conor Daly, Seán Mullooly, David Murray; Niall Daly, Conor Hussey, Ronan Daly; Shane Killoran (2-0), Tadhg O’Rourke; Hubert Darcy, Cathal Cregg, Niall Kilroy (1-1); Diarmuid Murtagh (0-3, 2 frees), Conor Cox (0-5, 2 frees), Ultan Harney.

Subs: Fintan Cregg (0-2, 1 free) for O’Rourke (37), Colin Compton (0-2, 1 free) for C Cregg (46), Conor Devaney for Darcy (48), Andrew Glennon (0-2, 1 free) for Murtagh (53, b/c), Cathal Heneghan (0-1) for Cox (61), Brian Stack for R Daly (64), Caoileann Fitzmaurice for Killoran (69, blood).

Leitrim: Cathal McCrann; Michael McWeeney, Paddy Maguire, Conor Reynolds; Domhnaill Flynn (0-4, all frees), Seán McWeeney, Shane Quinn (0-1); Mark Plunkett, Fergal McTague; Raymond Mulvey (0-1), Ryan O’Rourke (0-5, all frees), Pearce Dolan (0-1); Evan Sweeney, Shane Moran, Gary Plunkett.

Subs: Dean McGovern for McTague (21), Jack Heslin for Sweeney (39), Aidan Flynn for Dolan 43), Emlyn Mulligan for G Plunkett (45), Nicholas McWeeney for Flynn (70), Oisín Madden for S McWeeney (70).

Referee: Sean Hurson (Tyrone)

 

Hurlers earn famous win in Athleague!

 

 

Christy Ring Cup (Round One)

Roscommon 0-20

Kildare 1-18

 

A late show from Roscommon, which saw them hit four unanswered points in injury-time, earned them a magnificent victory over the current Christy Ring Champions Kildare in Athleague last Sunday afternoon. The victory marks a huge turnaround for Ciaran Comerford’s men coming against a team which had beaten them by 25 points just one year ago in Newbridge.

  The first half was a scrappy affair with a lot of needless fouling from both teams. However, early on it was clear that Roscommon were capable of making life uncomfortable for Kildare. Cathal Dolan opened the scoring with a well-taken free after four minutes before adding to his tally with two more placed balls to leave Roscommon three points to the good. Kildare hit back as Brian Byrne responded with two frees of his own to leave Roscommon one point to the good after a cagey opening twenty minutes. 

  The game opened up after that and both sides finally got off the mark from play. Jack Sheridan pointed for Kildare and the hard-working Darragh Heavey responded with a score for Roscommon. The game’s first big talking point arrived after 24 minutes when a long ball into the box was met by Naos Connaughton, who was dragged down. Referee Mick Murtagh had no hesitation in awarding the penalty but Cathal Dolan, who was otherwise reliable from placed balls throughout for Roscommon, struck a tame penalty straight at Kildare goalkeeper Paddy McKenna.

  Roscommon heads didn’t drop however and they closed out the half with two points each from Cathal Dolan (1 free) and the outstanding Padraig Kelly, which left them 0-8 to 0-7 up at the interval.

  Roscommon were dealt a major blow early in the second half, when Peter Kellehan was shown a straight red card when his wild swing connected with Brian Byrne’s helmet. John Gorman had levelled the game just two minutes before. 

  With the game being more open, Kildare were now heavy favourites but Roscommon were not prepared to roll over. Cathal Dolan’s precise free taking kept the Rossies in the game and they were level with the Lilywhites going into the final ten minutes.

  Roscommon supporters may have feared the worst in the closing stages, however, when Kildare corner-forward Jack Sheridan surged forward and blasted the sliotar past a despairing Noel Fallon in the Roscommon goal. Roscommon hit back with two more Cathal Dolan frees before Kildare came back with two points of their own to leave three between the sides.

  They were to be Kildare’s last scores however and Roscommon put the foot on the accelerator to set up a grandstand finish. Points from substitute Conor Mulry and Cathal Dolan got them back to within a point before a monstrous free from Roscommon ‘keeper Noel Fallon and a superb long-range score from midfielder Shane Curley put the hosts ahead. Roscommon then kept their composure as they game edged towards the full-time whistle and earned a free which Cathal Dolan converted to seal a famous victory in Athleague for Roscommon hurling.

Roscommon: Noel Fallon (0-1, a free); Pat Nolan, Paul Kenny, Hugh Rooney; Conor Coyle, Peter Kellehan, Alan Moore; Darragh Heavey (0-1), Shane Curley (0-1); Gearoid Keenan, Padraig Kelly (0-3), Naos Connaughton; Gearoid Egan, Cillian Egan (0-1), Cathal Dolan (0-12, 11 frees). Subs used: Conor Mulry (0-1) for G Egan (54 mins), Eamon Kenny for Connaughton (64 mins).

Kildare: Paddy McKenna; James Dolan, Diarmuid Cahill, Rian Boran; Niall Ó Muineachain (0-1), Ross Kelly, Aran Kelly; Jack Travers, Kevin Whelan (0-2); John Gorman (0-1), Brian Byrne (0-8, 7 frees), James Burke; Conor Dowling, Martin Fitzgerald (0-1), Jack Sheridan (1-2, 1 free). Subs Used: Mark Delaney for Dowling (47 mins), Cathal Derivan for R Kelly (53 mins), Paul Kennedy for Gorman (65 mins), Gary Johnson for Travers (65 mins).

Referee: Mick Murtagh

 

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