Roscommon rout Leitrim to set up Galway showdown
Roscommon strolled into their second Connacht final on the spin when they outclassed Division 4 side Leitrim on a scorching afternoon in Dr Hyde Park.
Wing back Conor Devaney hit two first half goals – he should have had a hat trick - as the home side essentially wrapped up the win in the first half which lasted nearly 44 minutes due to a number of injuries.
By then Roscommon were ten points clear (2-9 to1-2) and on their way to another Connacht final appearance in Pearse Stadium against defending title holders, Galway on July 9.
In the end they had 17 points to spare (2-23 to 1-9) in what was essentially a rout– team boss Kevin McStay would probably have preferred a stiffer test but there was much to admire about Roscommon's forward play – though the opposition was woefully feeble.
Even though Leitrim deployed seven defenders they had no answer as Roscommon repeatedly powered through the centre and their finishing from distance was exemplary with full forward Diarmuid Murtagh looked a class apart at full forward. He finished with 0-7 with six points from play.
Their defence looked less assured, however, and Leitrim shocked the home side with a brilliant goal from their teenage corner-forward Darragh Rooney in the 8th minute – by then Roscommon had hit four points on the spin.
By the 15th minute five of Roscommon's forwards had scored from play as had midfielder Enda Smith – but the latter's brother Donal had his afternoon cut short when he was black carded for an unnecessary pull-down on Leitrim''s Michael McWeeney.
Leitrim's first half woes could be traced to an inability to win their own kicks - they only won eight of Brendan Flynn's 15 first half restarts into a slight breeze which meant their defence was under constant pressure.
Their problems were compounded when the lost midfielder Damien Moran at a black card in injury time – he fouled Diarmuid Murtagh – and lost centre forward Dean McGovern through injury. Indeed, they had only 13 men on the field for nearly two and a half minutes but it didn't impact on the contest.
Conor Devaney switched from wing back to wing forward at the start of the second half but the one way traffic continued as Leitrim again failed to secure their own kick-outs. Roscommon had added six points including a point from a penalty by Ciaran Murtagh before Leitrim hit their first point in in the second period in the 50th minute.
The game totally petered out in the heat as the pace at times dropped as both sides cleared their benches. In the end Roscommon had 17 points to spare. It will be a lot tighter in the Connacht final while Leitrim face a big task in attempting to recover for the qualifiers.
The official attendance was 8,844.
Roscommon: C Lavin; G Patterson. J McManus, N McInerney; S McDermott, S Mullooly, C Devaney(2-1); T O'Rourke, E Smith (0-3); F Cregg (0-2), N Kilroy (0-1), B Stack (0-2); C Murtagh (0-4, 3f, 1 pen), D Murtagh (0-7,1f), D Smith (0-1). Subs: C Connolly (0-1) for D Smith (BC) 15m; C Compton for Connolly 45m; R Stack for Kilroy 45m; S Killoran (0-1) for Patterson 49m; B Murtagh for B Stack 60m; T Featherson for C Murtagh 67m
Leitrim: B Flynn; N Plunkett, D Wrynn, P Maguire; J Rooney, M McWeeney, O Madden; S Moran D Moran (0-1); B Gallagher (0-1), D McGovern, R O'Rourke; K Beirne (0-3, 1f), C Gaffney, D Rooney (1-2). Subs: N McGovern for D Moran (BC) 35m +6; R Kennedy (0-2) for McGovern 35m + 6. G Reynolds for McWeeney (BC) 45m; C Cullen for O'Rourke 47m; R Gallagher For Wrynn 58m;
Referee: Anthony Nolan (Wicklow)