Thursday 22 August 2019

Rossie goal rush kills Leitrim momentum

Roscommon 3-17 Leitrim 0-12

Niall Kilroy of Roscommon shoots to score his side's third goal of the game past Cathal McCrann of Leitrim. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile
Niall Kilroy of Roscommon shoots to score his side's third goal of the game past Cathal McCrann of Leitrim. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

The insurrection from lower division teams that took hold in three of the provinces over the weekend did not extend to Connacht where Roscommon did as they pleased in Dr Hyde Park, condemning Leitrim to a fourth successive double-scores defeat in as many years.

While Limerick were turning over Tipperary and Waterford, Wicklow, Offaly and Derry all made life hard for counties further up the food chain, Leitrim found themselves no further on than the 14, 17 and 13-point beatings they have taken at the hands of Roscommon in the last three championship campaigns.

Three first-half goals laid the foundation for another 14-point win in this quarter-final, taking some of the gloss from Leitrim's progressive league campaign that saw them earn promotion in the process.

But those goals only told part of the story with at least three more gilt-edged opportunities created by Roscommon who attacked relentlessly from deep, showing reserves of fitness and pace that Leitrim couldn't live with from an early stage.

Briefly in the second half, they managed to shore things up but with impetus from the bench through Fintan Cregg, highly-rated 19-year-old Cathal Heneghan, Andrew Glennon and Colin Compton who contributed 0-7 between them from play and frees Roscommon took off again to double their winning tally in the last 20 minutes.

Leitrim set up in orthodox fashion, showing a willingness to take on the home side after a cautious approach had failed them in previous years.

Conor Cox of Roscommon in action against Micheal McWeeney of Leitrim. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile
Conor Cox of Roscommon in action against Micheal McWeeney of Leitrim. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile

They posted regular midfielder Shane Moran to full-forward and sought to target him with direct ball, a tactic that almost paid dividends in the opening minute when a drop-kick under pressure was smothered and cleared by Roscommon goalkeeper Darren O'Malley.

Risks

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But putting so much into attack brought risks and vulnerability which Roscommon were able to exploit, no one more so that midfielder Shane Killoran who broke on to Niall Kilroy's delivery and squeezed home a goal after just five minutes.

Even at that stage Leitrim looked stretched with some of the players visibly struggling to close the gaps that were appearing. The athletic difference was stark.

Diarmuid Murtagh of Roscommon in action against Paddy Maguire of Leitrim. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile
Diarmuid Murtagh of Roscommon in action against Paddy Maguire of Leitrim. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile

By the 10th minute Roscommon could have had three goals, Leitrim goalkeeper Cathal McCrann getting down to deny Ultan Harney in the eighth minute.

Killoran lost his balance with another clear chance presenting itself in the 14th minute but he quickly made amends by scything through some hapless tackles for his second goal two minutes later.

The physical difference manifested everywhere. In the 21st minute debutant Conor Hussey ripped the ball from Gary Plunkett and won a free to really highlight it at a time when Leitrim confidence was ebbing badly.

Moran was the one beacon of hope for Leitrim. He used his physical presence to engineer seven frees that Ryan O'Rourke and Domhnaill Flynn converted between them.

McCrann and Paddy Maguire played their part too but for too long it looked like there were three divisions between them, as was the case earlier this year and not just the one that will divide them in 2020.

Their manager Terry Hyland was philosophical afterwards. "I am outsider here I see things differently. These boys are only starting and they have been down in the lower divisions which means that they have an awful lot of things to do. They need to take baby steps at the beginning like staying in Division Three and when they move their way up, they will have to think and act faster. At the start of the year they were a Division One team and we were a Division Four and you saw that difference. You don't change that in four or five months."

Roscommon added a third goal just before the break when former Kerry player Conor Cox was allowed to punch a hole through the middle of the Leitrim defence, offloading to Kilroy who slipped beneath McCrann.

It was a satisfactory start to championship life for Cox who finished with five points, two from frees including one impressive long-range effort.

But manager Anthony Cunningham may have had him in mind when he reflected on the quality of some of the finishing afterwards. "If you were looking at our point taking and shot selection in the first half it wasn't at the standard. It's something we have to get better that."

Cunningham's thoughts had already turned to Mayo in 12 days time who, he suggested, they had a "score" to settle with after the earlier league reversal.

Moran expressed a desire not to let the season be framed by just a league final appearance in Croke Park.

"Other years we set up defensively but today we went 15 on 15 and wanted to take the game to them. We hadn't played against that pace so far this year and it showed."

Scorers - Roscommon: S Killoran 2-0, C Cox 0-5 (2f), N Kilroy 1-1, D Murtagh 0-3 (2f), F Cregg (1f), A Glennon (2f), C Compton (1f) 0-2 each, C Heneghan, D O'Malley (45) 0-1 each. Leitrim: O'Rourke 0-5 (5f), D Flynn 0-4 (4f), P Dolan, S Quinn, R Mulvey 0-1 each.

Roscommon - D O'Malley 8; D Murray 7, S Mulooly 7, C Daly 7; N Daly 8, C Hussey 7, R Daly 6; T O'Rourke 6, S Killoran 8; H Darcy 6, C Cregg 6, N Kilroy 7; U Harney 7, C Cox 7, D Murtagh 7. Subs: F Cregg 6 for O'Rourke (37), C Compton 6 for C Creegg (45), C Devaney 6 for Darcy (48), A Glennon 6 for Murtagh BC (53), C Heneghan 7 for Cox (61), B Stack for R Daly (64), C Fitzmaurice for Killoran (69).

Leitrim - C McCrann 6; M McWeeney 5, P Maguire 7, C Reynolds 6; R Mulvey 6, S McWeeney 5, S Quinn 6; M Plunkett 5, F McTague 5; D Flynn 6, R O'Rourke 6, P Dolan 5; G Plunkett 5, S Quinn 8, E Sweeney 5. Subs: D McGovern 6 for McTague (22), J Heslin 5 for Sweeney (39), A Flynn 5 for Dolan (43), E Mulligan 5 for G Plunkett (44), O Madden for S McWeeney (70), N McWeeney for Flynn (70).

Ref - S Hurson (Tyrone)

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