All-Ireland U-17 Football Final: Tyrone 2-18 Roscommon 0-15
Roscommon’s hopes to become the first winners of the inaugural All-Ireland U-17 championship were dashed by a very impressive Tyrone outfit in this entertaining final played in perfect weather conditions at Croke Park last Sunday.
The nine-point winning margin flattered Tyrone a little as Roscommon had battled back well in the second half from a seemingly impossible situation at half-time. But Tyrone were the deserved winners and a run of nine points without reply from the 6th to the 19th minutes of the first half ultimately decided the destination of the title.
This game also unveiled another young star on the Gaelic football scene as Darragh Canavan, son of Tyrone legend Peter, gave an exhibition of football with pace, vision and the ability to shoot off either foot. He ran the show for the Red Hand County, and the ‘man of the match’ decision was one of the easiest of the year.
Roscommon had their stars on the day too. Shane Cunnane had a fantastic game at midfield and he never gave up on the cause. Pearse Frost was impressive and the best of a defence who were under pressure, especially in the first half. Further forward, Andrew Lyons and Peter Gillooly were the pick of the starting attackers. Subs Darragh Walsh and Paul McGrath caught the eye too and one wonders how the match would have gone if the multi-talented Walsh was fit to start. He looked really sharp when introduced in the 42nd minute.
The opening five minutes saw the sides go at each other and Roscommon led by 0-2 to 0-1 at that stage with Peter Gillooly landing a super 40 metre point and Ciaran Sugrue scoring from 30 metres, with a Darragh Canavan point in reply for Tyrone.
But with Canavan beginning to exert his influence on proceedings, Tyrone went on a run that gave them the platform to win this final. They cut lanes through the centre of the Roscommon defence and the pace and accuracy of their attacking play was devastating. Points from Canavan, Ethan Jordan (3, two frees), Daniel Miller (2), Joe Oguz, Cormac Donnelly, and Tarlach Quinn arrived one after the other and by the 19th minute, it was Tyrone 0-10 Roscommon 0-2.
Shane Cunnane lifted the siege for Roscommon with three points (2 frees) between that point and half-time, but Tyrone matched the Rossies with points from Cormac Donaghy. Ethan Jordan and the lethal Canavan, and by the interval Tyrone led by eight points 0-13 to 0-5.
In fairness to Roscommon, they played some great football in the third quarter and got back into the game. Shane Cunnane pointed again shortly after the restart and when Peter Gillooly pointed a free in the 37th minute, the deficit was reducing. Tyrone missed a couple of chances but the Roscommon confidence was growing, and further points from Peter Gillooly (two great efforts from play) and another from Shane Cunnane saw the margin at just four (0-14 to 0-10) by the 47th minute.
But just as the Roscommon supporters were finding their voice, Darragh Canavan struck to end the game as a contest in the 49th minute. The spadework was done by Daniel Miller and Cormac Donaghy and Canavan fired home a rocket of a shot from 20 metres into the top corner for a spectacular goal. Two goalkeepers would not have saved it.
Tyrone bossed the game after that and the points sailed over from all angles. Roscommon did manage a few excellent scores from impressive sub Darragh Walsh but the goal had killed Roscommon’s momentum. Tyrone finished the game with a scrambled goal from sub Mark Hayes in the 4th minute of injury-time, which put an unfair lop-sided look to the final score.
It was a good campaign for these young Roscommon players and their management, under Liam Tully, should be rightly proud of their efforts this year. These players now have the experience of beating Leitrim, Galway, and Kerry and of playing in an All-Ireland final at Croke Park. It will definitely stand to them in the future, Hopefully it will not be long before we see them again.