Cunningham happy to see Rossies finish with flourish
Roscommon 4-9 Cork 3-9
Roscommon manager Anthony Cunningham felt that his team answered some doubters as they finished Group 2 of the Super 8s with victory over Cork at Páirc Uí Rinn yesterday.
Trailing by 2-5 to 1-7 at half-time, the Connacht champions struck three second-half goals to finish in third place and condemn Cork to their fourth defeat of the campaign. Having lost all three group games last year, Cunningham felt it was important for the team to respond strongly in the wake of losses to Tyrone and Dublin.
"This was our first Super 8s win so it is significant in that sense," he said.
"We are disappointed, obviously, that it wasn't a match that put us through to an All-Ireland semi-final. We have to take the harsh lessons of the Tyrone defeat. The panel and players will take that on board.
"Today was significant because questions were asked in the last few weeks, questions such as, have we moved on? For us, unbeaten in the Connacht Championship, a very good performance against Tyrone, albeit a bit unlucky, today we wanted to back those performances up. In very tough conditions away from home, to come out of it with a win, we are very happy."
Cork got a super start, with Luke Connolly frees sandwiching a Mark Collins goal, but Roscommon slowly came into the game with the aid of frees from Conor Cox. The margin was down to three points, 1-5 to 0-5, when Connolly had a chance of a second goal but he shot wide.
Soon after, the visitors were level as Cathal Cregg set up Brian Stack for a goal, but Cork had an immediate response as Connolly fisted home from Eoghan McSweeney's delivery. While the Rebels might have had a third through Paul Kerrigan, they wouldn't score again before half-time and Shane Killoran and Cox ensured Roscommon were just one behind at half-time.
They were level with an Andrew Glennon point on the resumption, but Collins converted a pair of Cork frees to put them in front again. It was the last time the Rebels led, though, as Cox and Glennon set up Stack for his and Roscommon's second goal on 52 minutes and Enda Smith made it 3-8 to 2-7 on the hour mark.
While James Loughrey netted for Cork to reduce the gap to the minimum again, Roscommon remained on the goal scent and Killoran raised a fourth green flag in the 69th minute.
Sub Stephen Sherlock nearly followed up a point with a levelling goal, but while John O'Rourke had a late point for the hosts, sub Donie Smith had the final say for Roscommon.
For Cork manager Ronan McCarthy, it was about learning lessons.
"First of all, there's no question that, physically, the games have taken their toll on us over the last couple of weeks," he said.
"While out strength and conditioning has certainly stepped up massively this year, we've a bit to go yet. We'll put in that work over the winter and make sure we bring guys to the next level.
"Things I've mentioned before, when we retain the ball and don't give it away, we're a really good side. Physically we probably need to be a bit more imposing, we need to make contact more all around the pitch.
"The disappointing thing is that we've done it, we've played patches of really good football at times against top teams, but not done it consistently enough throughout these games."
Scorers - Roscommon: B Stack 2-0, C Cox 0-5 (5f), E Smith, S Killoran 1-1 each, A Glennon (f), D Smith 0-1 each. Cork: L Connolly 1-3 (3f), M Collins 1-2 (1f), J Loughrey 1-0, R Deane, K O'Driscoll, S Sherlock, J O'Rourke 0-1 each.
CORK - M Martin 7; T Clancy 6, J Loughrey 7, K Flahive 6; S Cronin 6, S White 6, M Taylor 7; I Maguire 6, K O'Hanlon 7; K O'Driscoll 7, R Deane 6, E McSweeney 7; P Kerrigan 6, M Collins 6, L Connolly 7. Subs: J O'Rourke 6 for Kerrigan (half-time, black card), M Hurley 6 for McSweeney (half-time), B Hurley for Collins (57), C Kiely for Cronin (59), R O'Toole for Clancy (63), S Sherlock for Connolly (70).
ROSCOMMON - D O'Malley 6; D Murray 7, C Daly 7, G Patterson 6; N Daly 6, R Daly 7, C Hussey 7; T O'Rourke 7, S Killoran 8; B Stack 9, C Cregg 7, N Kilroy 6; A Glennon 7, C Cox 7, E Smith 8. Subs: C Compton 6 for Niall Daly (half-time, black card), A Lyons 6 for Hussey, F Cregg 7 for C Cregg (both 45), D Smith 7 for Kilroy (56), D Murtagh for Glennon (57), H Darcy for Compton (70, black card).
Ref - N Mooney (Cavan).