Kepak Roscommon SHC (Round 4)
Four Roads 3-16
With ten minutes gone in the second half of this county senior final repeat between these two great rivals, Four Roads had eased into a 13-point lead (3-14 to 0-10) and it looked like the Tisrara men were about to lay down a serious marker ahead of the forthcoming knock-out matches.
But full credit to Athleague, inspired by Eamon Flanagan - who only came on as a sub in the 26th minute - they chipped away at the Four Roads lead until they had it down to four late on, but they ran out of time. However, their second half performance will give them plenty of hope going forward.
Four Roads were the deserving winners on the balance of play, but they were probably guilty of taking their foot off the pedal in the final 20 minutes. They also hit 16 wides on the night (to Athleague’s 6) which is something that they will be certain to address in the coming weeks. This win means they go through to the semi-finals alongside Tremane. The quarter-final pairings will be decided following this weekend’s action.
It was a perfect evening for hurling at Waldron Park, Athleague and the first twelve minutes saw the sides share eight points. Then Four Roads struck three points without reply from Cathal Dolan (2) and Niall Hynes. Robbie Fallon’s 17th minute free interrupted the Four Roads run of scores but in the next eight minutes they struck to deadly effect to open up a major gap.
Shane Curley struck two long-range points (one a ’65) and Cathal Dolan chipped in with another fine effort. Then in the 21st minute Conor Mulry blasted to the Athleague net following a super pass from Noel Fallon. Two minutes later Micheal Kelly goaled from a penalty awarded after Conor Mulry was fouled in the large square. Suddenly it was 2-10 to 0-5 in favour of Four Roads and by half-time they led by 2-13 to 0-7.
But Eamon Flanagen had been introduced as a sub for Athleague just before half-time and he was to go on to score an amazing tally of eleven points before the game was over as he led the Athleague revival.
Padraig Kelly struck for a third Four Roads goal in the 37th minute and by the 40th minute the visitors were 13 points to the good. But Athleague and Flanagan stuck to their guns. The sub scored eight out of the next nine points in the game as the ball flew over the Four Roads crossbar from all angles from play and the placed ball. It was an almost flawless display from Flanagan on the night.
But Four Roads had already done the damage. Cian Murray pulled first time to the Four Roads net in the first minute of injury-time but in truth Athleague needed that to come much earlier if they were to have a chance.
However, despite this being an enjoyable contest, there was a certain amount of shadow boxing going on, and with several regulars to return on both sides the exchanges will be a lot more intense if they meet later in the championship. For the moment however the advantage lies with Four Roads as they seek to regain the Mickey Cunniffe Cup.
Four Roads: David Dowd; Oisin Campbell, Mark McLoughlin, Martin McLoughlin; Jack Donnelly, Micheal Kelly (1-1, 1-0 pen), Noel Fallon; Shane Curley (0-3, 1 free, 1 ’65), Conor Coyle (0-1); Cathal Dolan (0-7, 4 frees), Padraig Kelly (1-1), Andrew Lawlor; James Fitzmaurice, Conor Mulry (1-1), Niall Hynes (0-2). Subs: Diarmuid Treacy for Fitzmaurice (47), Thomas Treacy for Donnelly (50), Shane Byrne for Lawlor (52), Donnacha Gately for Hynes (57).
Athleague: David Connell; Aaron Donnelly, David Delaney, Pat Nolan; Alan Moore, Gary Fallon, Niall Connolly (0-1); Darragh Heavey (0-1), David Fleherty (0-1); Cian Murray (1-0), Stephen Kilcommins, Enda Naughton; Thomas Connaughton, Robbie Fallon (0-3, all frees), Paul Flaherty. Subs: Eamon Flanagan (0-11, 2 ‘65’s, 6 frees) for Connaughton (27) , ET Murray for C Murray (44), Conor Lavin for Naughton (47), Thomas Connaughton for Heavey (50), C Murray for P Flaherty (57).
Referee: Johnny Cahill