Wednesday 13 November 2019

Murtagh stars as Rossies retain U-21 crown in magnificent final

Roscommon 3-14 Galway 3-1: EirGrid Connacht U-21 FC final

Roscommon players celebrate with the JJ Fahy cup after beating Galway in the EirGrid Connacht U21final
Roscommon players celebrate with the JJ Fahy cup after beating Galway in the EirGrid Connacht U21final
Roscommon's Conor Hussey in action against Johnny Heaney of Galway
Roscommon's Cathal Compton scores a goal despite the challenge from Galway's Eoghan Kerin and Tadhg O'Malley Newsdesk Newsdesk

The GAA should consider distributing the DVD of this thrilling contest to every coach in the country to show them how football should be played.

And this action-packed encounter at Tuam Stadium wasn't only about attacking football and quality scores - it was also about big defensive hits, great blocking and tracking, all of which enthralled the crowd of 4,796 from start to finish.

At the end of it all it was the Rossies who were still standing, claiming their ninth Connacht U-21 title and putting two back-to-back for the first time.

But they were made battle all the way by a Galway side who raced five points clear after just 16 minutes following goals by the superb Damien Comer and Enda Tierney.

But Roscommon battled back and a goal from Cathal Compton helped them lead by 1-10 to 2-6 at the break.

Galway hit the first three points of the second-half before man of the match Diarmuid Murtagh pointed after 40 minutes and then hit the key score of the game following a long delivery by the excellent Ultan Harney.

Enda Smith set up Paul Flynn for the clincher after 47 minutes and while Eamon Brannigan rifled a late goal into the top right corner for Galway, the champions held on.

They will now set their sights on a first All-Ireland title since 1978, having been beaten in the 2012 and 2014 finals by Dublin

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"There is no point just being happy with a Connacht final, an All-Ireland semi-final now is at stake and that is our next goal," said manager Mark Dowd.

"There is probably a feel good factor there. Our seniors are going well, we are going well. It is all about pushing forward now."

Galway manager Alan Flynn, who guided the Tribesmen to All-Ireland U-21 glory in 2011 and 2013, said it was little consolation to have played in such a quality game, but he was very proud of the display produced by his men.

"I know I couldn't have asked anymore of our lads. It was fantastic to be involved with but you want to win.

"You're just looking for a performance and then you're hoping that you get the result and I think they gave the performance and we were probably a little bit short. Roscommon are a superb team," said Flynn.

Scorers - Roscommon: D Murtagh 1-7 (0-6f); C Compton, P Kenny 1-0 each, U Harney 0-3; S Killoran 0-2; J Earley, K Kilcline 0-1 each. Galway: E Brannigan 1-3, D Comer 1-2 (0-1f); E Tierney 1-1; C Brady 0-3; K Molloy, J Heaney 0-1 each.

Roscommon: S Mannion; N McInerney, C Kenny, D Barron; C Hussey, S Mullooly, R Daly; C Compton (Capt), T O'Rourke (Capt); U Harney, D Murtagh, E Smith; S Killoran, P Kenny, J Earley. Subs: E McGrath for Hussey (22), K Kilcline for Killoran (35), N Gately for Earley (41), K Finn for Harney (50), T Corcoron for O'Rourke (54), D McGann for Kenny (59)

Galway: T O'Malley; A Nolan, J Wyndham, K Molloy; L Silke, C Cunningham, E Kerin; M Day, D Corbett; C Brady, D Comer (Capt), J Heaney; E Tierney, E Brannigan, G Kelly. Subs: M Farragher for Kelly (24), E Finnerty for Corbett (50), P Mannion for Brady (58), J Donnellan for Brannigan (60)

Ref - Jerome Henry (Mayo).

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