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Dineen joy as 'magnificent' Rossies book dream Croker date

Roscommon U-21 boss Nigel Dineen expressed his delight following his side's five-point victory over Cavan in the All-Ireland semi-final at Pearse Park on Saturday.

The Castlerea native praised his players for the spirit they displayed in reaching their first All-Ireland appearance at Croke Park at this grade in 30 years.

"It's an absolutely fantastic feeling to be bringing this group of players back to Croke Park for the first time since 1982. At the start of the year, we made it our goal to get to an All-Ireland final and to achieve that goal is very pleasing indeed. Our defence was magnificent all year and once again they came to the fore today."

This encounter looked to be heading for extra-time when Cavan's Kevin Tierney goaled to leave a single point between the teams with just a minute remaining, but a fortuitous goal from Colin Compton in injury-time killed off any thoughts of a Cavan revival.

The Breffni men got off to the perfect start when they caught the Roscommon defence napping. A teasing ball played by Christopher Conroy into the heart of the Roscommon defence picked out Tierney, whose blistering shot found the top corner of the Rossies net.

Roscommon, nevertheless, responded positively and earned parity after they bagged their first three-pointer. Cian Connolly instigated the move after playing a neat handpass to Donie Smith.

Smith then off-loaded to the roaming half-back Conor Daly who slipped his shot low into the bottom-right corner.

After the break, a Niall Kilroy and Donie Smith combination put four between the sides before Cavan replied through Christopher Conroy.

Last year's finalists looked to have been thrown a lifeline in the 59th minute when a well-taken goal from Tierney bridged the gap back to a single point as the contest appeared to be heading for extra-time.

But Roscommon full-forward Compton made the most of a goalkeeping error by Conor Gilsenan and calmly slotted the ball into an open net from 25 metres.

Dineen was disappointed that his side could not extend their lead during their second-half purple patch.

"It was very important that we got a couple of scores on the board early in the second half and it helped settle the team. However, I was a little disappointed that we didn't capitalise on all the possession and convert the scores that were there for the taking.

"When their goal came in the final stages of the game, it made for an extremely nervy final five minutes for all concerned, but luckily we found another goal and I think we got our just reward."

Scorers -- Roscommon: C Compton 1-1f, C Daly 1-0, D Smith 0-4 (1f), N Kilroy, C Murtagh 0-1 each. Cavan: K Tierney 2-0, J Dillon, C Conroy 0-1 each.

Roscommon --T Lowe; C Cafferkey, C Duignan, D Murray; C Daly, P Brogan, R Stack; C Shine, N Daly; S Oates, N Kilroy, D Keane; C Connolly, C Compton, D Smith. Subs: J McManus for S Oates (46), F Gregg for D Keane (41), C Murtagh for C Connolly (45), D Clabby for N Kilroy (58).

Cavan -- C Gilsenan; N O'Donnell, K Brady, J McLoughlin; D Sexton, C Moynagh, M Brady; P Leddy, K Clarke; J Dillon, C Conroy, F Flanagan; J Brady, K Tierney, R Lynch. Subs: P King for J McLoughlin (26), PP O'Hara for N O'Donnell (h-t), S Reilly for PP O'Hara (inj, 40), D McVeety for C Conroy (49).

REF -- C Reilly (Meath).

Irish Independent