Sport Gaelic Football

Sunday 19 November 2017

Murtagh breaks Rebels' hearts

Roscommon 1-19 Cork 3-12 (All-Ireland U21 FC semi-final)

David Murray, Roscommon, in action against Alan Cadogan, Cork
David Murray, Roscommon, in action against Alan Cadogan, Cork
Diarmuid Murtagh, Roscommon, kicks the winning point from free in injury time
Diarmuid Murtagh, Roscommon, in action against Stephen Cronin, Cork

Daragh Ó Conchúir

There was controversy and drama at O'Moore Park as Roscommon emerged from the most dramatic tie imaginable to book their place in the final.

The Connacht champions had been the better team throughout but were punished for retreating too far into their own half in the closing minutes when Dan Mac Eoin drove an injury-time free to the net for an equalising goal.

There was still time for a winner, and it was fitting that man of the match Diarmuid Murtagh would provide it with his 10th point of the game (four of which came from play).

Referee Anthony Nolan penalised Sam Ryan for picking the ball off the ground and Murtagh held his nerve to loft the winner from wide on the right. The 19-year-old was magnificent in a rip-roaring encounter. Both teams settled well and when Mac Eoin arced over a brilliant point in the 10th minute, Cork led by 0-4 to 0-3.

It took them another 20 minutes to register their next score, however, as Roscommon went on the rampage, kicking the next seven points.

Enda Smith brought the sides level with a towering kick before Micheál Martin was forced into a stunning point-blank save from Donie Smith. Nolan correctly called play back for a foul on the corner-forward, though, and Murtagh pushed Roscommon ahead.

Enda Smith, Ciaran Kilcline, Ultan Harney, Ronan Daly and Murtagh all added to the tally, with the scores from Daly and Murtagh right out of the top drawer. Mac Eoin ended the Rebel famine from a free after Alan Cadogan was fouled but Murtagh made it 0-11 to 0-4 at half-time.

Cork got the type of storming start they needed to the second half, with a 33rd-minute Mark Sugrue goal helping reduce the gap to two. Roscommon showed their credentials, though, to increase that to six once more, Murtagh knocking over four consecutive frees.

Cadogan remained Cork's most dangerous operator despite being starved of possession and he scored a scintillating solo goal to breathe fire into the Cork challenge once more, but when Harney drove an unstoppable shot to the Leesiders' net in the 52nd minute, it looked all over.

Cork scored the next three points, though, with two coming from Sugrue, before Cadogan was fouled and Mac Eoin deployed an Anthony Nash-style approach to the free, to apparently snatch a draw.

It wasn't to be, though, as Murtagh made the most of the opportunity provided to him by Nolan to snatch victory.

Scorers – Roscommon: D Murtagh 0-10 (6fs), U Harney 1-1, T Corcoran (1 45, 1f), E Smith 0-2 each, D Smith, C Kilcline, R Daly, M Healy 0-1 each;

Cork: D MacEoin 1-6 (1-3fs), M Sugrue

1-3 (0-1f), A Cadogan 1-2, S Kiely 0-1.

Roscommon: C Lavin; D Murray, S Mullooly, C Kenny; N McInerney, J McManus, R Daly; U Harney, T Corcoran; C Kilcline, M Healy; E Smith, D Murtagh, M Nally, D Smith.

Cork: M Martin; J Davis, C Dorman, S Cronin; K Fulignati, S White, K Crowley; K O'Hanlon, I Maguire; B O'Driscoll, M Sugrue, S Kiely; D MacEoin, J Corkery, A Cadogan. Subs: K Histon for Fulignati (26), K Kavanagh for O'Hanlon (26), S Ryan for Corkery (48), K McIntyre for Kiely (60).

Referee: A Nolan (Wicklow)

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