SportGAA

Roscommon upset the odds to clinch Connacht title

Cian Connolly celebrates after scoring Roscommon's first goal
Cian Connolly celebrates after scoring Roscommon's first goal

ROSCOMMON 2-15 GALWAY 0-12

Roscommon upset the odds to hammer Galway by nine points and win the Connacht Senior Football title at Pearse Stadium in Salthill.

It was a richly deserved victory for the underdogs who out-fought and out-played Galway all over the pitch.

A lot of the credit for this victory must go to manager Kevin McStay who refused to let the constant criticism aimed his way from within the county hold back the team’s preparation and he got his tactics spot on on the day.

Backed by a strong breeze, Roscommon dominated the first half from start to finish.

Two points from captain Ciarán Murtagh and one from his brother Diarmuid had the Rossies three points in front before Shane Walsh got Galway on the board with a free.

Galway conceded two unnecessary scores when goalkeeper Rory Lavelle’s short kick-out strategy backfired and Roscommon won turnovers and forced frees which the Murtagh brothers converted.

A nice point from wing back Conor Devaney helped Kevin McStay’s men into a 0-06 to 0-01 lead after 12 minutes.

Shane Walsh fired over a Galway point in the 14th minute but, incredibly, it would be their last score until the 35th minute and their only one from play in the whole half.

Roscommon responded to that score in the best possible fashion - they went straight down the other end and rattled the net with a well-worked goal.

Corner forward Cian Connolly collected a beautiful long pass from Diamuid Murtagh and cooly slotted the ball into the bottom corner.

Roscommon almost shot themselves in the foot in the following fifteen minutes when they hit six wides in a row and failed to extend their advantage in howling wind and rain.

Galway rued a missed goal chance when Michael Daly saw his effort come back off the post.

A Diarmuid Murtagh point put the Rossies seven in front at half time (1-07 to 0-03) and their fans must have been wondering if they had done enough with the wind at their backs.

Galway began the second half with intent and, finally, someone added to Shane Walsh’s only scores when Damien Comer kicked a point.

The key moment of the match came in the 41st minute when - with Galway’s tails up -  Roscommon scored their second goal.

Brian Stack collected another wayward Galway kick-out and ran straight at the defence to bury the ball past Lavelle.

To their credit, Galway showed character to hit the next six points as Comer, midfielder Paul Conroy and captain Gary O’Donnell all showed some much-needed leadership.

Roscommon refused to panic however, and a Diarmuid Murtagh free eased their supporters' nerves before Cian Connolly stretched their lead back out to five.

Galway failed to register a score in the last 20 minutes as their attacks became increasingly desperate.

Roscommon ran out comfortable winners with Conor Devaney adding to his first-half point with two fine late scores and substitute Donie Smith helping himself to a brace.

Michael Lundy and Damien Comer were sent off for Galway following a late brawl and Roscommon’s Cian Connolly was also dismissed for two yellow card offences.

Nothing could spoil the day for the Roscommon supporters, however, who poured onto the pitch in their droves at the final whistle to celebrate a first provincial title in seven years.

Galway: R Lavelle, C Sweeney, D Kyne, E Kerin, G O'Donnell (c) (0-1), G Bradshaw, L Silke, P Conroy (0-2), F Ó Curraoin, T Flynn, M Daly (0-1), J Heaney, E Brannigan, D Comer (0-2), S Walsh (0-6)

Subs: G Sice for J Heaney, D Cummins for E Brannigan, M Lundy for T Flynn

Roscommon: C Lavin, D Murray, J McManus, N McInerney, S McDermott, S Mullooly, C Devaney (0-3), T O'Rourke, F Cregg, E Smith, N Kilroy, B Stack (1-0), C Connolly (1-1), D Murtagh (0-5), C Murtagh (c) (0-3)

Subs: I Kilbride for F Cregg, D Smith (0-2) for D Murtagh, C Compton for C Murtagh, R Stack for N Kilroy, S Killoran (0-1) for B Stack

Referee: D Gough