Durack hails effort as Donegal 'dig deep' to claim silverware
Donegal 3-20, Roscommon 3-16 Nicky rackard cup final
Donegal's hurlers showed the courage, intensity and skill that has been the hallmark of the county's football team recently to claim the honours in a breathtaking decider.
The Tir Conaill men were at a numerical disadvantage for the last 35 minutes after Ronan McDermott was flashed a yellow card, followed by a red, early in the second half.
Winning manager Ray Durack couldn't recall McDermott receiving a first yellow and neither could the player himself.
Durack reckoned it was "a mistake" by referee Pat Murphy but then the Carlow official did allow Paul Sheridan's vital 49th-minute goal to stand, even though it looked like Paddy Hannigan had impeded Roscommon goalkeeper Padraig Dolan.
"They really dug deep," said Durack of his players. "That's the type of team this is. Once they get their heads in front ... We knew we would need a strong second-half performance.
"It was tit-for-tat. We got a point, they got a point. I think the first goal they got put us a bit on the back foot. Then they got a goal from a 20-metre free and we were definitely on the back foot then.
"We came out in the second half and got a good goal from Paddy Hannigan but then straight away they got a goal again."
With Lee Henderson totting up a 10-point tally and Sean McVeigh, Hannigan and Paul Sheridan grabbing the goals – McVeigh's solo effort a contender for goal of the year – they had just enough in hand to follow up their success in the Lory Meagher Cup two years ago.
It was tough luck on Roscommon's former Poc Fada champion Gerry Fallon, who finished with 2-9.
Crucially, though, Donegal had a greater spread of scores and, remarkably, still had enough energy to break away for the game's last two scores from Danny Cullen and Stephen Boyle.
Scorers – Donegal: L Henderson 0-10 (7fs), P Hannigan, S McVeigh 1-1 each, P Sheridan 1-0, D Cullen 0-3, C Mathewson, S Boyle 0-2 each, J Boyle 0-1 . Roscommon: Gerry Fallon 2-9 (2-7fs), Cathal Kelly 1-1, R Fallon 0-2, J Lawlor, Gary Fallon, E Kenny, N Kilroy 0-1 each.
Donegal – P Burns; B Harrigan, J McGee, M McGrath; C McDermott, J Donnelly, J Boyle; R McDernmott, D Cullen; L Henderson, S McVeigh, E McDermott; C Mathewson, P Hannigan, S Boyle. Subs: P Sheridan for S Boyle (43), J Browne for McGee (61), K Campbell for E McDermott (64).
ROSCOMMON – P Dolan; S Curley, R O'Meara, I Delaney; S Melia, M Kelly, N Keenan; J Lawlor, A Murphy; Cormac Kelly, Gerry Fallon, C Egan; R Fallon, Gary Fallon, Cathal Kelly. Subs: N Kilroy for Egan (29), D Nolan for Murphy (42), C Dolan for Keenan (49), E Kenny for Cormac Kelly (53).
REF – P Murphy (Carlow)