Saturday 10 December 2016

First major upset of season as Sligo shock Roscommon

Published 20/06/2015 | 20:58

Cathal Cregg, Roscommon, in action against Keelan Cawley and Niall Murphy, Sligo. Connacht GAA Football Senior Championship
Cathal Cregg, Roscommon, in action against Keelan Cawley and Niall Murphy, Sligo. Connacht GAA Football Senior Championship

Finally the form book has taken a battering in the provincial championship.

Sligo 1-14; Roscommon 0-13

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Underdogs Sligo knocked high flying Roscommon out of the Connacht series last night at Markievicz Park.

A magnificent performance from their full forward line paved the way for their first championship win over Roscommon since 2007.

The Yeats County now advance to meet five in a row chasing Mayo in next month's provincial final for their first appearance in the decider since Roscommon surprised them in 2010.

But when it comes to championship football Sligo would always fancy their chances against Roscommon and Adrian Marren hit a match winning total of 1-7.

Sligo boss Niall Carew included four newcomers and although physically Roscommon looked to hold the aces the home side began in a positive fashion.

Debutante Cian Breheny - a nephew of team captain Mark Breheny - boomed over a glorious long range point in the first minute and David Kelly could have had a goal soon afterwards after a speculative shot from Pat Hughes came back off the upright.

Roscommon goalkeeper Darren O'Malley saved his effort and although full forward Senan Kilbride looking to have the beating of Sligo full back Kevin McDonnell his side kicked  three early wides.

Gradually Roscommon  took control of the midfield exchanges as Sligo found it increasing difficult to win their own kick out. But the visitors continued to be twarted by poor finishing as their wides tally rose to five at the end of the first quarter.

Sligo in contrast were far more economical and against the odds led 4-1 at the end of the first quarter. 

Their tactics were straight forward - they carried the ball to the 45m line where they launched an aerial bombardment which caused endless problems in the Roscommon rearguard with Pat Hughes a total handful for full back Niall Carty.

The visitors finally got some traction with their first brace of points on the spin but with Adrian Marren nailing all but one of his frees Sligo continued to lead. 

The woes of the Roscommon full back line increased five minutes before the break when an angled shot from Mark Breheny rebounded off the upright.

Neil Ewing reacted fastest to grab the loose ball and was promptly upended in the square. Marren drilled the the penalty to the net to put his side 1-6 to 0-5 ahead.

Roscommon lost corner forward Diarmuid Murtagh with a hamstring injury before the break and hit another two wides to bring their tally to 9 for the half whereas Sligo hit only four.

But the home side suffered a blow deep in injury time when wing forward  Cristoir Davey was blackcarded.

But they stretched their lead to five points when impressive full forward Pat Hughes slotted his second point to leave the half time score 1-7 to  0-5.

The sides exchanges a brace of points each in the early second half exchanges though Sligo keeper Aidan Devaney had to tip over an effort from substitute Donal Smith.

Roscommon gradually began to dominate with continued to squander chances;  Ciaran Murtagh hit a 20m off the upright and after Devaney had brilliantly saved a pile driver from  Enda Smith substitute Cian  Connolly missed an open goal from the rebound.

Cathal Cregg was one of the few Roscommon players to carry the game to Sligo and he hit his third point to leave four between the sides with 20 minutes left.

Sligo masses defence was proving defiant with Ross Donavan outstanding but at the other end they started to squander chances. However, David Kelly hit their first score for 13 minutes to restore put five between the sides.

Roscommon hit two points on the spin to cut the deficit to three but then they lost Donie Shine to a black card and the brilliant Marren hit a point from the resultant free.

Two magnificent points from 34 year old Mark Breheny make it a five point game and a late score from Roscommon's best player Cathal Cregg wasn't enough to save the day.

The official attendance was 9,480

Sligo:  A Devaney; R Donovan, K McDonnell, D Maye; E Flanagan, B Egan, K Cawley; C Breheny (0-2), N Murphy; C Davey, M Breheny (0-2), N Ewing; D Kelly (0-1), P Hughes (0-2), A Marren (1-7, 1 gl pen. 3f). Subs: B Curran for Davey BC 35 + 3; S Gilmartin for C Breheny 60m,  J Hynes for Cawley 70 + 2

Roscommon: D O'Malley; S McDermott, N Carty, N Collins; N Daly (0-1), D Ward, C  Cafferky (0-2); I Kilbride, C Shine; E Smith, R Stack, C Cregg (0-4), E Smith (0-2); D Murtagh (0-2, 2f), S Kilbride, C Murtagh. Subs. C Connelly for D Murtagh,  D Smith (0-1) for Stack ht; D Keenan for Ward 42m; C Compton for S Kilbride 55m; F Cregg (0-1, 1f) for C Murtagh 57m; M Finneran for Shine BC 65m;

Referee: M Deegan (Laois)

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