Gaels win thriller to clinch minor title 

Earley Consulting Roscommon MFC Division One Final

Roscommon Gaels 2-13 Boyle 1-15 

We had to wait until the 7th of November to see what in my opinion was the club football game of the year – but the wait was worthwhile! Roscommon Gaels and Boyle served up a thrilling minor (U-17) final in Dr. Hyde Park last Sunday. The only pity was that there had to be a loser. 

  For most of the first half, Roscommon Gaels played some of the best football produced by any team at the club in many years. In total control, they went a whopping ten points up (1-11 to 0-4). However, Boyle scored three points in first-half injury-time, a flurry that gave them a glimmer of hope. They came thundering back into the game in the second half. 

  In the end Boyle were desperately unlucky not to have earned at least a share of the spoils following a breathtaking finish. It was a stunning turnaround.

  Roscommon Gaels were a joy to watch over the opening 25 minutes of play. Ethan O’Reilly, Senan Lambe, and Ryan Conlon in particular, drove them forward, their movement and the accuracy of their passing spectacular at times.

  The Gaels were 0-4 to no score up after seven minutes, with Conlon on target with two, the other scores coming from John Hough and John McGuinness. Boyle did get on the scoreboard in the ninth minute with a point from Niall O’Donnell. After a smart point from Liam Naughten a minute later, the Gaels scored a fine goal in the 13th minute.

  DJ Hession’s shot was well saved by Sean Garavan, but John McGuinness was following up and he blasted the rebound to the net. By the 25th minute the Gaels were ten points to the good, with O’Reilly and Conlon particularly prominent. Boyle were struggling at this stage and only Niall O’Donnell looked a threat in terms of producing scores. 

  Then, in first-half injury-time, Boyle scored three points – from O’Donnell, Daniel Casey and Gavin O’Connor. Half-time: Roscommon Gaels 1-12 Boyle 0-7.

  What a transformation in fortunes we witnessed in the second half. Boyle pushed up on the Gaels and the free-flowing football we had seen from the town team in the first half ceased. Daniel Casey, Eden Kerins, Niall O’Donnell and Conor Kelly in particular spearheaded the revival as the Boyle scores began to flow.

  In the 35th minute, the rampant Kelly blasted home a great goal, the momentum now firmly with Boyle. They scored a goal and five points without reply (including three mighty frees from O’Donnell), and by the end of the third quarter the sides were level at 1-13 apiece.

  The Gaels were struggling to get their hands on the ball, but in the 46th minute – just after the second water break – they struck for what was the decisive score of the game. On what by then was a rare attack, the outstanding Ryan Conlon took on the Boyle defence before finishing brilliantly.  Suddenly the Gaels had restored their lead.

 Boyle remained undaunted. Cathal McKeon pointed in the 48th minute as they laid siege on the Gaels’ goal. Two chances went agonisingly wide, and a shot from David Duggan struck the post. In the 56th minute, Niall O’Donnell drove over another free and now there was only the bare minimum between the teams.

 Then, in the second minute of injury-time, David Flanagan’s attempt for the equaliser drifted just outside the post. Time was up. Ecstasy for Roscommon Gaels, bitter heartbreak for Boyle. 

  Best for Roscommon Gaels were goalkeeper Ciaran Purcell, Senan Lambe, Ethan O’Reilly, Rory Carthy and John McGuinness, while their star performer was Ryan Conlon, who had a phenomenal first half in particular and weighed in with 1-8.

  Boyle’s Conor Kelly was another contender for the man of the match award after a brilliant second-half display. Eden Kerins, Daniel Casey, Niall O’Donnell and Oran Henry were also very prominent for them in what was a brilliant game of football.