Roscommon answer critics with fine display against Cavan
Roscommon 3-17 Cavan 1-16
Rumours of Roscommon’s demise are greatly exaggerated if events at Kingspan/Breffni Park are any gauge.
The Rossies won pulling up in their round 1A All-Ireland SFC Qualifier against 14 men Cavan and can now look forward with confidence to an extended summer’s residence in the blue riband competition.
Cavan simply couldn’t cope with the westerners’ pace and power down the spine of the pitch nor their prowess at the business end of the field.
In their defence, the Breffni boys were forced to play the entire second half a man down after midfielder Tomas Corr was red-carded BEFORE the whistle was sounded for the start of the second half after an off-the-ball incident moments before the short-whistle sounded.
In perfect playing conditions, the hosts had the perfect start when Martin Reilly slipped the ball under advancing Roscommon ‘keeper Darren O’Malley with just 34 seconds on the clock.
Late-comers suffered a double whammy ‘cause less than two minutes later, good work from late call-up Ultan Harney ended with Cathal Cregg executing a slide-rule shot into the Cavan net.
Pre-match expectations that familiarity would breed contempt were unfounded as the players proceeded to go toe-to-toe in a manly and honest fashion.
The electric pace was maintained for the duration of the opening half but Roscommon ‘s superior strength in the tackle and their physical prowess began to count double in the humid, energy-sapping conditions.
Cavan laboured to match their opponents’ dash and efficiency at the business end of the field with superb points from Enda Smith and Harney helped to steer the Connacht men into a 1-6 to 1-3 lead by the 23rd minute.
Cavan rose to the challenge and enjoyed a purple spell between the 29th and 32nd minutes when points from Gearoid McKiernan , Cian Mackey (free) and Martin Reilly levelled the tie (1-6 apiece) for the fourth time in the opening half.
Cavan couldn’t maintain a head of steam for anything other than fleeting minutes though and the westerners enjoyed the better run into the break with a brace from Conor Daly.
The homesters flattered to deceive in their bid to claw back their 1-7 to 1-10 half-time deficit and once Enda Smith rattled the Cavan net (43), the final outcome was well flagged.
Things didn’t get any better for the Ulstermen as the long-time leaders comfortably consolidated their advantage with sweeping counter-attacks.
The Connacht side went onto win pulling up with Enda Smith’s palmed goal (71) putting the icing on the cake and leaving Cavan with a winter of discontent ahead of them.
Cavan: R Gallligan; J McLoughlin, J McEnroe, K Brady; N Murray (0-2), Flanagan, D O’Reilly; G McKiernan (0-1), T Corr; C Mackey (0-3, 2f), D Veety, M Reilly (1-3); R Flanagan, M Argue (0-1), N McDermott (0-1).
Subs; T Hayes for N McDermott (inj, 19); C Moynagh for F Flanagan (half-time); B Reilly (0-3 ,2f) for K Brady (49); C Brady (0-1) for D O’Reilly (49); M Dunne (0-1) for R Flanagan (58); P Smith for M Argue (69).
Roscommon: D O’Malley; S McDermott, N Collins, D Murray; N Daly, D Keenan, C Cafferky; I Kilbride, K Higgins; C Daly (0-2), C Cregg (1-1), E Smith (2-1); U Harney (0-3), D Shine (0-3, 2f), C Murtagh (0-2, 1f).
Subs;D Murtagh (0-3) for K Higgins (45); R Stack for I Kilbride (50); D Smith (0-1, f) for C Murtagh (55); B Murtagh for D Shine (61); T Featherston for D Murray (64); C Connolly for C Cregg (65).
Ref: D Gough (Meath)