Monday 22 January 2018

Kelly's last-gasp thunderbolt seals glory for Rossies

Roscommon 2-12 Armagh 1-14: Nicky Rackard Cup final

Roscommon captain Micheal Kelly lifts the Nicky Rackard Cup after defeating Armagh at Croke Park
Roscommon captain Micheal Kelly lifts the Nicky Rackard Cup after defeating Armagh at Croke Park
Roscommon captain Micheal Kelly scores the winning goal against Armagh from a free
Armagh's Stephen Renaghan in action against Keith Kilkenny of Roscommon

Fourteen-man Roscommon snatched a dramatic Nicky Rackard Cup title triumph with a stoppage-time goal at Croke Park.

Skipper Micheal Kelly smashed a 20-metre free to the net to break Armagh hearts and seal a second crown for the Connacht men.

Winners in 2007, they lost to Donegal in the 2013 final and it looked as if they were about to finish second best once again after sub Cathal Kelly was sent off with 15 minutes to play.

After an early exchange of points, the Rossies got in for a goal from Ronan O'Meara which provided a valuable platform for what was to follow.

Neat scores from Cillian Egan and Keith Kilkenny kept them in front, but the Ulster side came good late in the first half, hitting 1-3 in the space of six minutes - Cathal Carvill scoring the goal that gave them a 1-8 to 1-5 half-time lead.

After Armagh moved five clear, Jerry Fallon pegged back the deficit with a handful of frees.

Roscommon committed more men to the attacking effort, and substitute Cathal Kelly almost nailed a second goal, but his shot was well saved by Doherty.

Substitute John Coyne narrowed the gap to two, but Kelly's 56th-minute straight red card dismissal threatened to end Roscommon's hopes. However, their self-belief dragged them through and kept them in contention.

John Moran nailed his third score of the afternoon, Coyne tagged on another, and they were two points behind when they were awarded a 20-metre free in the 72nd minute.

Kelly stepped up and thundered the ball to the roof of the net for a glorious winner with the game's very last strike.

Roscommon manager Justin Campbell revealed that the players had resolved to give it everything right to the end, irrespective of the course of the game.

He could scarcely believe that they would provide him with such a sensational finish.

"We put in a huge effort - the boys never gave up, even at half-time we thought we might be in a bit of bother but we settled down, took it on, and said we'd stay going win, lose or draw," he said.

Scorers - Roscommon: A Murphy 1-1, M Kelly 1-0 (f), J Fallon 0-4 (4f), J Moran 0-3, J Coyle 0-2, C Egan, K Kilkenny 0-1 each. Armagh: R Gaffney 0-8 (8f), C Carvill 1-0, D Coulter 0-2, N Curry ('65), D Carvill, E McGuinness, C Corvan 0-1 each.

Roscommon - N Fallon; I Delaney, P Kellehan, L Kilcline; D Leonard, M Kelly, T Seale; C Dolan, J Kilkenny; J Moran, R O'Meara, J Fallon; C Egan, K Kilkenny, A Murphy. Subs: C Kelly for Dolan (33), J Coyne for Seale (h-t), C Kenny for Egan (43), E Flanagan for Murphy (60).

Armagh - S Doherty; S Renaghan, C Clifford, C Devlin; K McKernan, N Curry, S Gaffney; J Corvan, D Coulter; R Gaffney, C Carvill, D Carvill; M Moan, E McGuinness, C Corvan. Subs: C Gorman for Moan (52), C Magee for McGuinness (62), G Fallon for J Fallon (63), A McGuinness for D Carvill (65)

Ref - J O'Brien (Tipperary)

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