Christy Ring Cup (Round One)
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