Saturday 21 July 2018

Rossies cut loose to burn off Armagh

Roscommon 2-22 Armagh 1-19

Roscommon's Enda Smith. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Roscommon's Enda Smith. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

John Brennan

What a game, what a contest and at the end of it all, Roscommon are into the Super 8. They just about deserved it, with their bench making a much bigger impact than Armagh's in the Portlaoise heat.

Yet the match was still in the melting pot, if you'll excuse the phrase, until Enda Smith scored his and Roscommon's second goal in injury-time.

Had Roscommon lost, referee Joe McQuillan might have been helping with their enquiries. Armagh hit hard, most often legitimately, but once or twice they strayed over the line and frees didn't always follow.

For Armagh's part, Colm Lavin's save from Rory Grugan's penalty midway through the second half was a huge moment.

They did get a goal five minutes later through Mark Shields, but in between the two incidents Roscommon had tacked on three points and the goal didn't haul the Orchard County back into the match as much as the penalty would have done.

Attacking heroes abounded in this one as the forwards made hay against defences that were using sweepers but not using them well.

Diarmuid Murtagh of Roscommon in action against Patrick Burns of Armagh. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Diarmuid Murtagh of Roscommon in action against Patrick Burns of Armagh. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

The first half was an astonishing affair, one that ended with Roscommon leading 1-11 to 0-12 as the rival attacks ripped into their opposition with gusto and kept the scoreboard rattling along.

It was into the 17th minute before a wide was kicked as the likes of Andrew Murnin and Grugan for Armagh, and Cathal Cregg and Diarmuid Murtagh for the Rossies, made hay.

The key score, though, was Smith's 29th-minute goal for Roscommon.

The ball was worked beautifully up the length of the pitch after the Connacht finalists had intercepted a stray pass almost on their own 20m line. Pass after pass ended with Smith drilling his low shot to the corner of the Armagh net.

Andrew Murnin of Armagh in action against Niall McInerney of Roscommon. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Andrew Murnin of Armagh in action against Niall McInerney of Roscommon. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

Armagh did manufacture a second-half goal of their own from wing-back Shields, who had moved to play as a target-man full-forward. But the missed penalty and a few wayward efforts for points would come back to haunt the Orchard County before Smith's late green flag ended a great game.

Now Roscommon can look forward to hosting Donegal in Dr Hyde Park and playing the Dubs in Croker as part of the Super 8. It's what they surely set their sights on for this summer.

Scorers - Roscommon: E Smith 2-1; D Murtagh 0-7; C Murtagh 0-6; C Cregg, D Smith 0-3 each; C Devanney, C Compton 0-1 each. Armagh: R Grugan, N Grimley 0-5 each; A Murnin 0-4; M Shields 1-0; S Sheridan, J Hall, R McShane, A Forker, G McParland 0-1 each.

Roscommon: C Lavin; D Murray, N McInerney, S McDermott; J McManus, P Domican, C Devanney; N Kilroy, T O'Rourke; C Murtagh, C Cregg, E Smith; D Smith, U Harney, D Murtagh Subs: G Patterson for Domican (44), Finbar Cregg for C Murtagh (56), C Compton for D Smith (59), C Daly for McDermott (61), Fintan Cregg for Kilroy (65), I Kilbride for Daly (71).

Armagh: B Hughes; P Burns, C Mackin, G McCabe; M Shields, B Donaghy, A Forker; C Vernon, R O'Neill; R Grugan, J Hall, N Grimley; R McShane, A Murnin, S Sheridan. Subs: J McElroy for McCabe (33), R McQuillan for Sheridan (42), N Rowland for Donaghy (47), G McParland for Mackin (52), J Duffy for Hall (63) K Dyas for Murnin (66).

Referee: J McQuillan (Cavan).

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