Roscommon sink Galway with storming second half comeback to claim shock Connacht final win
Roscommon 1-13 Galway 0-12
ROSCOMMON secured their 23rd Connacht SFC title – and third of the decade – with a stunning comeback against an imploding Galway in Pearse Stadium this afternoon.
The decider finished in bedlam, with a premature pitch invasion by hundreds of exultant Roscommon supporters in a crowd of 17,639 – before Barry Cassidy had blown for full-time.
The fans were ushered off and play continued, with Kerry import Conor Cox converting a free for his fifth point in the game’s last play, confirming a four-point winning margin.
They now advance to the ‘Super 8s’ - in Dublin’s group barring a huge Leinster final upset next Sunday.
Trailing by five points at half-time after a Galway surge before the break, it looked curtains for the visitors.
Instead, they outscored Galway by 1-8 to 0-2 in a lopsided second half that no one could have predicted.
It represents a huge coup for Anthony Cunningham, who has now won provincial titles in two different codes after his earlier success in Leinster.
But it also signalled a massive body blow for Cunningham’s native Galway, who must not alone raise morale but surely consider a change to their cautious and much-criticised game-plan if they’re to resurrect their All-Ireland ambitions.
Diarmuid Murtagh’s 40th minute goal, reducing the Rossie deficit to a point, was the key score. From there on they believed whereas Galway could only muster a Michael Daly point and a Shane Walsh ‘45’, deep in stoppage time.
The first half was, in fact, more like a tale of two quarters. The opening exchanges were competitive and highly entertaining, especially the opening ten minutes after which Galway held a threadbare 0-4 to 0-3 lead, all seven points coming from open play.
Galway were marginally shading matters and twice edged two clear, but when Cox converted his own free and then Murtagh cut in from the right touchline for a curling 21st minute score, the sides were tied at 0-5 apiece.
And then this final tilted emphatically one way. Amid a torrential downpour that turned the ball into the proverbial bar of soap, Galway found a higher gear and a Roscommon defence that had been touch-tight earlier on started to struggle.
From the 28th to the 35th minute, the hosts rattled off five unanswered points via Antaine Ó Laoí, a Walsh free, sub Eamonn Brannigan, a Daly free and then a booming effort from centre-back Gareth Bradshaw.
But then, on the resumption, the game was turned on its head once more.
A 39th minute point from Niall Kilroy ignited the visitors, whose comeback then fully took off with a brilliant goal just a minute later. Cathal Cregg’s hard running at a suddenly exposed Galway defence – and then a perfectly weighted handpass – created the opening for Murtagh, whose deft left-footed finish inside the near post cut the margin to just a point.
Cregg was a massive factor in Roscommon's transformation. Smith’s third-quarter influence was also illustrated by an assist for Cox’s excellent equaliser, and then he was fouled for Murtagh’s 50th minute free, edging the Rossies ahead for the first time since the sixth minute.
Galway’s inhibition, their lack of intensity, was hard to fathom. They finally opened their second half account in the 57th minute – a fine effort from Daly to restore parity.
But instead reinvigorating Galway, it merely reignited Roscommon who shot the next three points via their excellent wing-back, Niall Daly, midfielder Shane Killoran and another Murtagh free.
SCORERS - Roscommon: D Murtagh 1-3 (2f), C Cox 0-5 (2f), C Devaney, R Daly, N Kilroy, N Daly, S Killoran 0-1 each. Galway: S Walsh 0-4 (2f, 1 ‘45’), M Daly 0-3 (1f), A Ó Laoí 0-2, F Ó Curraoin, E Brannigan, G Bradshaw 0-1 each.
ROSCOMMON: D O’Malley; C Daly, D Murray, S Mullooly; N Daly, C Hussey, R Daly; T O’Rourke, S Killoran; C Devaney, C Cregg, N Kilroy; D Murtagh, C Cox, E Smith. Subs: H Darcy for Devaney (inj 26), C Compton for Smith (inj 57), C McKeon for Cregg (inj 63), A Glennon for Murtagh (69), B Stack for Killoran (75).
GALWAY: R Lavelle; L Silke, SA Ó Ceallaigh, E Kerin; G O’Donnell, G Bradshaw, J Daly; T Flynn, F Ó Curraoin; P Cooke, M Daly, J Heaney; A Ó Laoí, I Burke, S Walsh. Subs: E Brannigan for Ó Curraoin (inj 22), S Kelly for Cooke (54), C McDaid for Heaney (62), A Varley M Daly (63), M Farragher for Burke (70), K Molloy for O’Donnell (75).
REF: B Cassidy (Derry).