Smith stars as Rossies make most of extra man
Roscommon 2-19 Clare 2-12
A fine individual display by Roscommon corner-forward Donie Smith helped his side to two valuable league points in front of a crowd of 1,643 at Cusack Park, Ennis yesterday.
Clare had to play most of the second half with only 14 men, as wing-back Ciarán Russell was dismissed on a straight red card by ref Niall Cullen eight minutes after the restart. Roscommon selector Liam McHale agreed that this incident had a major bearing on the outcome. "We were a bit worried about this game. We won by seven but I think the sending-off was a major pivotal point," he said.
The Connacht side did lead at the break by 1-9 to 1-7 but found themselves a goal down inside three minutes of the throw in. A movement that began in midfield by Cathal O'Connor and also involved Gary Brennan found its way to David Tubridy who drilled low past James Featherstone in the Roscommon goal.
But the goal stunned the visitors to life and a pair of points by Donie Smith and team captain Conor Devaney settled any early nerves. By the 17th minute, Clare held sway by 1-2 to 0-3. But then the Rossies stirred into action. In a four-minute spell, they grabbed 1-4 to no reply.
Ciaráin Murtagh kicked three (two frees), Smith scored another while Diarmuid Murtagh capitalised on a poor Clare kick-out and rattled Killian Roche's net. The score now read 1-7 to 1-2 in Roscommon's favour but Clare battled back to leave just two in it at the break.
Moments after the re-start, it was down to a one point game, after Clare centre-forward Eoin Cleary kicked over a free. At the other end, Smith did what he did all day and planted one from play. But the sending-off of Russell took the wind out of Clare's sails. Roscommon used Niall Kilroy as a sweeper and extra man and the Fuerty clubman swept up a lot of ball. The Rossies grabbed a second goal with ten minutes of normal time remaining.
Sub Cathal Cregg, working off a one-two with Smith, found the net with a low shot. This gave the winners some breathing space, pushing them 2-14 to 1-11 ahead. Clare did pull back a goal five minutes later through captain Gary Brennan. But Kevin McStay's charges finished out the game in level-headed fashion, kicking four late points to seal victory.
Scorers - Roscommon: D Smith 0-9 (2f); C Murtagh 0-6 (4f); D Murtagh 1-1 (1f); C Gregg 1-1; C Devaney 0-2. Clare: D Tubridy 1-3 (3f); E Cleary 0-5 (3f); G Brennan 1-0; K Sexton 0-2; P Lillis, S O'Donoghue 0-1 each.
Roscommon - J Featherston 7; S McDermott 7, J McManus 6, P Domican 7; R Daly 7, D Murray 7, N Daly 6; T O'Rourke 7, C Compton 7; C Murtagh 8, N Kilroy 8, C Devaney 7; D Smith 9, C Lennon 7, D Murtagh 7. Subs: F Lennon 7 for McManus (25), E Smith 7 for N Daly (h-t), B Stack 7 for Murray (48), C Cregg 8 for C Lennon (56), I Kilbride for O'Rourke (64), S Kiloran for D Murtagh (67).
Clare - K Roche 6; C O'Dea 7, C Brennan 7, E Collins 7; C Russell 7, A Fitzgerald 7, P Lillis 7; G Brennan 8, C O'Connor 7; S Collins 6, E Cleary 8, K Malone 7; S O'Donoghue 7, K Sexton 7, D Tubridy 7. Subs: G O'Brien 6 for E Collins inj. (53), C Finucane 6 for Tubridy ((58), S Malone 7 for Lillis (59), D Bohannon for Sexton inj. (63), C Ó hAinifein for S Collins (65).
Ref - N Cullen (Fermanagh)