Eirgrid Connacht U-20 Football Championship Quarter-Final
Roscommon’s U-20 footballers turned in a super second half display to overcome Sligo and qualify for a semi-final tilt at Galway next Saturday after this very enjoyable if somewhat strange quarter-final played in perfect weather conditions at Dr Hyde Park last Saturday night.
Sligo dominated the first half play. They scored two goals, hit the post three times, had what looked like a perfectly good goal disallowed, and kicked 11 wides. Yet when it came to the half-time whistle it was Roscommon who led (1-5 to 2-1). The home side made Sligo pay dearly for their wastefulness with a much-improved display in the second period and they were the deserved winners in the end.
Sligo looked so dangerous going forward in the opening quarter. Conor Shanagher opened the scoring with a Roscommon point in the 2nd minute but it was pretty much one-way traffic after that. Red Óg Murphy was winning everything in attack and he caused mayhem early on for the Roscommon defence. In the 4th minute Murphy played in Adrian Frain for a Sligo goal but it was disallowed by referee Liam Devenney for some unknown reason.
In the 4th minute Murphy was in for a Sligo goal after a great pass from Rory McHugh, and the same player was on target again for another goal in the 10th minute after he had pointed from play a minute earlier. Roscommon were now six points down and struggling.
Sligo continued to look dangerous going forward but incredibly they were not to score again in the half as the ball sailed wide of the post time after time. Roscommon began to get a foothold, and although they had limited possession, they gave their opponents a lesson on how to finish. David McManus pointed a free and then Cian McKeon finished a great Rossie move to the Sligo net for a badly needed goal in the 17th minute. Points from Brian Derwin (a superb effort), goalkeeper Aaron Brady (a free) and Paul Carey before the break saw Roscommon go in leading 1-5 to 2-1.
The home side made full use of their good fortune after the break and were a totally different team. Conor Shanagher, Luke Mollohan and Cian McKeon were in command and the scores started to flow. McKeon and Murphy exchanged points early on before Roscommon scores from Derwin and David McManus (2 frees) saw the home side ahead by 1-9 to 2-2 by the 40th minute.
Murphy’s 42nd minute point for Sligo was only brief respite as Roscommon turned the screw. In the 45th minute a peach of a pass from Brian Derwin set Cian McKeon up for his second goal of the game and when Aidan Dowd fisted home Roscommon’s third goal in the 49th minute after a great team move it was all over as a contest.
The game petered out after that with Sligo midfielder Barry Gorman scoring their third goal with what was the last kick of the game in the 4th minute of injury-time.
It was a great second half showing from Roscommon but if they start as slowly as they did here when they face a hotly fancied Galway in Tuam next Saturday, they can forget about going any further in this competition. Aidan Dowd, Luke Mollohan, Conor Shanagher, David McManus, Cian McKeon and Brian Derwin were impressive on the night for Shane Curran’s team while for a Sligo outfit who have only themselves to blame for not putting the game out of reach in that opening 20 minutes, Red Óg Murphy and Luke Towey were by far their best performers.
Roscommon: Aaron Brady (0-1, free); Liam Cregg, Evan Flynn, Garry Galvin; Aidan Dowd (1-0), Luke Mollohan, Darren Nerney; Conor Shanagher (0-1), Eddie Nolan; David McManus (0-3, free), Damien Duff, Ciaran Lawless; Paul Carey (0-1), Cian McKeon (2-2), Brian Derwin (0-2). Subs: Dylan Ruane for Lawless (19), Keith Murphy for Duff (h/t), Lorcan Daly for Galvin (43), Michael Conroy for Nerney (49), Gavan Byrne for McManus (53), Stephen Lennon for Nolan (60).
Sligo: Daniel Lyons; Oisin Conlon, Adrian Cummins, Evan Lyons; Sean Murphy, Mikey Gordon, Luke Towey; Barry Gorman (1-0), Adrian Frain; Rory McHugh, Red Óg Murphy (2-3, 1 free), Conan Marren; Joe McHugh (0-1, free), Shane Deignan, Ciaran O’Dowd (0-1). Subs: Rory Ryan for S Murphy (35), Luke Gilmartin for Deignan (35), Andy Flynn for O’Dowd (50), Karl McKenna for Cummins (50).
Referee: Liam Devenney (Mayo)