Roscommon clinch Division 2 title

Roscommon captain Niall Carty raises the cup after his side's victory over Down
Roscommon captain Niall Carty raises the cup after his side's victory over Down


Roscommon celebrated their promotion back to Division 1 by winning their second trophy in 12 months when securing the Division 2 league title at Croke Park.

The controversial dismissal of Down defender Brendan McArdle just before the interval had a significant influence on an entertaining contest.

Apart from one brief period when Down reeled off three points in as many minutes in the second half the match belonged to the Connacht side who won the Division 3 title in 2014.

They already had one hand on the trophy when centre forward Ciaran Murtagh scored the only goal of the game with eight minutes remaining.

From a Roscommon perspective the most pleasing aspect of the success was the fact that they won so comfortably without so many first choice players.

Two of their marquee forwards Diarmuid Murtagh and Donie Shine didn't start. But they did come of the bench with the latter making a telling contribution.

Newcomer Cian Connolly looks a real find while the experienced St Brigid's player Senan Kilbride underlined his class with four wonderful points from play which earned him the Man of the Match award.

Down will take some solace from the fact that they were motoring well until they were reduced to 14 men. They struggled to cope when a man down and were wiped out at midfield.

Midfielders Peter Turley and Paul Devlin were both replaced and their difficulties in the sector were underlined by the fact that they only won four of their ten re-starts in the second period.

Their lack of physical strength in key positions was a factor in their demise and quite frankly they could have done without a hiding of this magnitude ahead of their difficult Ulster championship clash against Derry in Celtic Park.

Given that both sides set up defensively - effectively each had just two 'dedicated' forwards there was an extraordinary amount of play between the two 45m lines.

There was nothing to separate the teams; they were level on six occasions and there was never more than two points separating them.

However, there were two pivotal moments. After 21 minutes Roscommon's Cathal Cregg had a great chance of a goal on the Hill 16 side but blazed wide.

More significantly, a minute before the end of normal time at the end of the first half Down's Brendan McArdle stupidly pulled down Senan Kilbride.

A definite yellow card offence - but apparently the wing back had been either booked already or made a comment to the referee - because Maurice Deegan flashed a yellow card followed by a red card which left the Ulster side a man short for the remainder of the contest.

While the sides started the second half level at 0-7 each Roscommon drove on straight from the restart - kicking four points in six minutes. Down rallied with three of their own to suggest that they might make a contest of it.

But Roscommon were completely dominant in the closing 25 minutes, outscoring their opponents 1-5 to 0-4. They lost corner back David Murray with a black card but it made no difference to the contest.

Down: S Kane; A Carr,  D O'Hagan, C McGovern; G Collins, L Howard, B McArdle (0-1),  P Turley, P Devlin (0-1, 1f);  D O'Hanlon, K McKernan (0-2), C Maginn (0-1); D O'Hare (0-5, 3f), C Laverty (0-1), C Mooney (0-1), Subs P Fitzpatrick (0-1)  for Turley ht; R Johnson (0-1) for Devlin 47m;  N Madine for A Carr 60m;  A McConville for Maginn 63m;  J Johnston (0-1, 1f) for McKernan  66m; R Boyle for Collins  69m

Roscommon: D O'Malley; N Collins, N Carty, D Murray; R Stack, N Daly, C Daly; K Higgins, C Shine; D Smith (0-1), C Cregg (0-1), C Cafferky (0-1); C Connolly (0-5, 4f), S Kilbride (0-4), C Murtagh (1-2). Subs:D Murtagh (0-1) for Smith ht; U Harney (0-1) for Cregg 46m; B Murtagh for Murray (BC) 52m; D Shine (0-1, 1f) for Connolly 55m; C Compton for C Murtagh 61m; I Kilbride for Higgins 68m

Referee: Maurice Deegan (Laois)