Monday 21 August 2017

Devaney on the double as Rossies sail into final

Roscommon 2-23 Leitrim 1-9

Roscommon's Ciaran Murtagh tries to slip away from the attention of Leitrim's Paddy Maguire Photo: David Maher/Sportsfile
Roscommon's Ciaran Murtagh tries to slip away from the attention of Leitrim's Paddy Maguire Photo: David Maher/Sportsfile

Sean McGoldrick

From the moment midfielder Enda Smith powered forward and kicked Roscommon's opening point after 36 seconds, there was an inevitability about the outcome of this Connacht semi-final at a sun-drenched Dr Hyde Park.

By the 15th minute, five of Roscommon's forwards had scored from play as they powered ahead, though by then some of their frailties had also been exposed as well.

Darragh Rooney shoots to score Leitrim's first goal Photo: David Maher/Sportsfile
Darragh Rooney shoots to score Leitrim's first goal Photo: David Maher/Sportsfile

Leitrim's teenage corner-forward Darragh Rooney exposed weaknesses in the Roscommon defence when he scored a goal in the eighth minute.

Then five minutes later, Roscommon's Donal Smith needlessly pulled down Leitrim's Michael McWeeney and referee Anthony Nolan had no option but to flash a black card at the corner-forward.

Ironically, McWeeney saw black himself in the 45th minute after he bundled over Brian Stack and gave away a penalty.

Even though Ciarán Murtagh drove the resultant kick high over the bar, the incident finally extinguished the game's already dying competitive embers. By then, Roscommon led by 16 points (2-15 to 1-2) and were already looking forward to a second consecutive Connacht final appearance in Pearse Stadium against Galway.

Referee Anthony Nolan shows Leitrim's Michael McWeeney the black card Photo: David Maher/Sportsfile
Referee Anthony Nolan shows Leitrim's Michael McWeeney the black card Photo: David Maher/Sportsfile

"This bore no resemblance to what it will be like against Galway," said Roscommon boss Kevin McStay afterwards. Last year, Roscommon drew with Galway in Pearse Stadium before suffering a humiliating 11-point loss in the replay in Castlebar.

McStay was concerned, too, by the collective drop in the team's energy levels in the final 20 minutes, but given the heat, the introduction of a plethora of substitutes and the one-sided nature of the game, this was understandable.

The gulf between a team which had played in Division 1 for the last two seasons and a side that struggled both to make an impact in Division 4 and beat London in the quarter-final was evident throughout.

Even though Leitrim deployed a sweeper, Roscommon repeatedly powered through their defence with Enda Smith and the Murtagh brothers a constant thorn in the Leitrim defence. The underdogs' woes were compounded by their decision to go long with the majority of their kick-outs, which they were unable to secure.

In the first half, Leitrim only won nine of Colm Lavin's restarts. When they occasionally broke out of their half, they caused some unease in the home side's defence.

But any hope they had of staying in the hunt disappeared in the 33rd minute, when a sweeping Roscommon move ended with wing-back Conor Devaney scoring his second goal.

He hit his first in the 16th minute, after Leitrim 'keeper Colm Lavin had denied Enda Smith with Gary Patterson - a late replacement for corner-back David Murray - setting up the chance.

Devaney grabbed the rebound and slotted home and he should have had his hat-trick completed by half-time, when he squandered another chance.

Due to a number of injuries, the first half lasted 44 minutes and Leitrim's woes were confounded during the nine minutes of injury-time when midfielder Shane Moran was black-carded for a foul on Diarmuid Murtagh and centre-forward Dean McGovern had to retire injured.

Break

With Roscommon leading 2-10 to 1-2, the game was effectively over at the break, though Leitrim again applied pressure. As McStay alluded too afterwards, Roscommon got careless in the last 20 minutes and while they added eight more points, Leitrim scored seven.

"To all intents and purposes in many people's eyes, the Connacht final was last weekend." suggested McStay. "But at the same time, it was one the big targets the team to get to the final and improve on last year's performance."

All will be revealed on July 9, but neither Roscommon nor Galway learned much from this 17-point rout.

Scorers - Roscommon: C Devaney 2-1, D Murtagh 0-7, (1f), C Murtagh 0-4 (3f 1 pen), E Smith 0-3, B Stack and F Cregg 0-2 each; N Kilroy, D Smith, C Connolly and S Killoran 0-1 each. Leitrim: D Rooney 1-2, K Beirne 0-3 (1f), R Kennedy 0-2, B Gallagher and D Moran 0-1 each.

Roscommon - C Lavin 8; G Patterson 7, J McManus 7, N McInerney 6; S McDermott 7, S Mullooly 7, C Devaney 8; T O'Rourke 7, E Smith 9; F Cregg 7, N Kilroy 8, B Stack 7; C Murtagh 7, D Murtagh 8, D Smith 5. Subs: C Connolly 7 for D Smith (BC, 15), C Compton 7 for Connolly (45), R Stack 7 for Kilroy (45), S Killoran 6 for Patterson (49), B Murtagh 6 for B Stack (60), T Featherson 6 for C Murtagh (67).

Leitrim - B Flynn 6; N Plunkett 6, D Wrynn 6, P Maguire 6; J Rooney 6, M McWeeney 5, O Madden 6; S Moran 6, D Moran 6; B Gallagher 6, D McGovern 6, R O'Rourke 5; K Beirne 7, C Gaffney 6, D Rooney 8. Subs: N McGovern 5 for D Moran (BC, 35 +6), R Kennedy 7 for D McGovern (35 + 6). G Reynolds 5 for McWeeney (BC, 45), C Cullen 5 for O'Rourke (47), R Gallagher 5 for Wrynn (58), G Plunkett for Gallagher (70).

Ref - A Nolan (Wicklow)

Irish Independent

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