Connacht U20 Championship Quarter Final
by Brían Mangan
Roscommon overcame a nightmare start to advance to the Connacht U20 semi finals after beating Sligo with 5 points to spare in the first ever Connacht U20 Championship game in Hyde Park on Saturday evening.
The game started in a frenetic fashion, with goal mouth action galore at both ends. Conor Shanagher opened the scoring with a stylish score off the outside of his boot before the Rossies were denied a goal when Brian Derwins close range effort was heroically blocked by Oisin Conlon. The next ten minutes were the Red Óg Murphy show, the Curry sharpshooter striking for 2-1 from play in this period. His first goal came from a long speculative ball into the square, Murphy showing good strength and cleverness to nudge his marker before calmly prodding the ball into the bottom corner. His second came minutes later, emphatically burying to the net after being teed up by Conan Marren. With Luke Towey bombing on effectively and Murphy rampant, Shane Curran’s charges were staring down the barrel of defeat at this point, but credit to them they regained their composure and points from Derwin and McManus brought them back into the contest before Cian McKeown slammed to the net for his first of two goals after being set up by a marauding run from man of the match Conor Shanagher. A sweetly struck free from goalie Aaron Brady brought the teams level before Paul Carey nudged Roscommon in front just before the break. Sligo were shellshocked as they should in truth have been way ahead but they will rue their 11 wides in the opening 30 minutes, many of which were goal opportunities. 1-5 to 2-1 was the score at halftime.
Sligo never recovered and when McKeown opened the scoring and scored his second goal after 10 minutes following a slick pass from his partner in crime Derwin, the result was beyond question. Sligo tried hard and had fine performances from Mikey Gordon and Luke Towey aswell as the aforementioned Red Óg Murphy. Aidan Dowd palmed to the net after a smart one two to put the icing on the cake for Roscommon with ten to go and even Barry Gormans spectacularly goaled free with the last kick of the game was only a consolation score. Liam Mollahan was another who could have received man of the match as was superb in defence throughout for Roscomon, particularly in the second half when he went back to the fullback line to curb the influence of Red Óg Murphy.
Roscommon march on to meet Galway in Tuam next Saturday at 4pm with the winners facing Leitrim or Mayo in the Connacht Final as the curtain raiser to the Connacht Senior Final.
ROSCOMMON: A Brady (0-1f), L Cregg, E Flynn, G Galvin, A Dowd (1-0), L Mollahan, D Nerney, C Shanagher (0-1), E Nolan, D McManus (0-3fs), D Duff, C Lawless, P Carey (0-1), C McKeown (2-2), B Derwin (0-2) SUBS D Ruane, K Murphy, L Daly, M Conroy, G Byrne, D Kearns
SLIGO: D Lyons, O Conlon, A Cummins, E Lyons, S Murphy, M Gordon, L Towey, B Gorman (1-0f), A Frain, R McHugh, R Óg Muphy (2-3, 0-2fs), C Marren, J McHugh (0-1f), S Deignan, C O’Dowd (0-1) SUBS L Gilmartin R Ryan, K McKenna, A Flynn