Roscommon comfortably overcame the challenge of Leitrim today in Dr Hyde Park to set up a showdown with Galway for the second year in a row in the Connacht Final in Salthill on July 9th. On a blazing hot day, the gulf in class between the two counties was very obvious as Leitrim just could not live with the Rossies, who ran out 2-23 to 1-9 victors.
In truth the result was rarely in doubt and when wing back Conor Devaney cracked in the second of his two first half goals in the 33rd minute to make the score 2-9 to 1-2, it was a question of how much the margin of victory was going to be. Devaney’s goals came as a result of Roscommon pushing up at every opportunity on their markers, including the full time sweeper which Leitrim deployed from the throw in. Some of the Roscommon score taking was superb in that early part of the game and what else was striking was the variety in scorers, with 7 different scorers on the board for them by the 17th minute when the impressive Diarmuid Murtagh landed a huge free from outside the 45m line. Murtagh was to finish his day with a personal tally of 7 points, all but one of them coming from play. The bright part of the half for Leitrim came in the 7th minute when corner forward Darragh Rooney got on the end of a sweeping attacking move to rifle to the bottom corner of the net with as good a goal as you could see. However, it was just a brief respite and Roscommon marched on with a relentless intensity, midfielder Enda Smith leading the charge with his driving runs from deep.
Roscommon came out for the second half as they did the first with all guns blazing and a succession of impressive scores from the Murtagh brothers, Fintan Cregg, Brian Stack and Enda Smith saw them stretch their advantage to 2-15 to 1-2. Skipper Ciaráin Murtagh left Leitrim off the hook when he smashed his penalty over the bar after Stack was fouled going through, but it mattered little at that stage. In fairness to Leitrim they never gave up and rallied towards the end, with Rooney and substitute Ronan Kennedy in particular causing problems and picking off some good scores to give their supporters some cause for optimism going into the qualifiers. Roscommon on the other hand have their eyes on their first Connacht title since 2010 and judging by this display of swashbuckling attacking football, the final against the Tribesmen should be one to savour.
Scorers for Roscommon: D Murtagh 0-7 (1f), C Devaney 2-1, Ciaran Murtagh 0-4 (3fs, 0-1 pen), E Smith 0-3, F Cregg and B Stack 0-2 each, D Smith, N Kilroy, C Connolly and S Killoran 0-1 each.
Scorers for Leitrim: D Rooney 1-2, K Beirne 0-3 (1f), R Kennedy 0-2, D Moran and B Gallagher 0-1 each.
ROSCOMMON: C Lavin; G Patterson, J McManus, N McInerney; S McDermott, S Mullooly, C Devaney; E Smith, T O’Rourke; F Cregg, N Kilroy, B Stack; C Murtagh, D Murtagh, D Smith
Subs: C Connolly for Smith (14 – bc), C Compton for Connolly (45), R Stack for Kilroy (45), S Killoran for Patterson (48), B Murtagh for B Stack (60), T Featherston for C Murtagh (65).
LEITRIM: B Flynn; N Plunkett, D Wrynn, P Maguire; J Rooney, M McWeeney, O Madden; S Moran, D Moran; D McGovern, C Gaffney, R O’Rourke; K Beirne, B Gallagher, D Rooney.
Subs: N McGovern for D Moran (35+3 – bc), R Kennedy for D McGovern (35+6), G Reynolds for McWeeney (45 – bc), C Cullen for O’Rourke (47), R Gallagher for Wrynn (58), G Plunkett for Gallagher (67).
REFEREE: Anthony Nolan (Wicklow).