ROSCOMMON 2-15 GALWAY 0-12
By Cian O’Connell for gaa.ie at Pearse Stadium
Similar to most of the great Roscommon triumphs in Connacht Finals this arrived with an element of surprise and style.
Kevin McStay’s team were primed for a battle, seizing the initiative early on, to frustrate Galway, who were soundly beaten by the snappy underdogs.
Roscommon struck 1-6 inside 14 minutes setting the tone and tempo. Galway did muster a third quarter rally after half-time, but there was a resilience about Roscommon. Silverware was going to be raised in Salthill.
Early on Galway struggled miserably to retain possession from their own kickouts with Roscommon exploiting the uncertainty.
Cian Connolly plundered a goal following a delicious pass from Diarmuid Murtagh. Connolly had the skill to roll a confident and classy finish into the bottom corner.
It came after a flurry of points from the Murtagh brothers, who were ready, willing, and able to show for for ball throughout. Galway couldn’t cope.
The rest of the first half was dour with only two further points being registered as Roscommon departed armed with a commanding 1-7 to 0-3 advantage.
When the action recommenced Galway were boosted by Shane Walsh (free) and Damien Comer points, but Roscommon, prompted by Enda Smith, ploughed on defiantly.
Diarmuid Murtagh rifled over a free and then the decisive blow was delivered in the 42nd minute when Brian Stack took centre stage.
Once more Roscommon caught a Galway kickout with Stack bursting clear to rattle the net with an assured finish.
Suddenly Roscommon led by nine, but it sparked another mini revival from Kevin Walsh’s charges, who kicked six in a row to narrow the gap.
Paul Conroy (2), Shane Walsh (2), Michael Daly, and Gary O’Donnell all found the range as the gap was cut to 2-8 to 0-11 with 20 minutes remaining.
Roscommon didn’t panic. Regaining composure McStay’s outfit restricted Galway to only one further score in the closing stages.
Substitutes Donie Smith and Shane Killoran kicked some tasty points from awkward angles, while Conor Devaney scampered forward impressively.
Cian Connolly was sent off for a second bookable offence, but Devaney added two points to decorate Roscommon’s victory.
Galway’s woes were compounded when Micheal Lundy (straight red) and Damien Comer (second yellow) were dismissed in stoppage time.
That scarcely mattered to the visitors as thousands of Roscommon folk spilled gleefully on to the Pearse Stadium turf. The JJ Nestor Cup was raised by Ciarain Murtagh, Roscommon were truly relevant in the west at the highest level again.
Scorers for Roscommon: Diarmuid Murtagh 0-5 (3fs), Cian Connolly 1-1, Conor Devaney and Ciarain Murtagh (2fs) 0-3 each, Brian Stack 1-0, Donie Smith 0-2 (1f).
Scorers for Galway: Shane Walsh 0-6 (4fs), Damien Comer and Paul Conroy (1f) 0-2 each, Michael Daly and Gary O’Donnell 0-1 each.
ROSCOMMON: Colm Lavin; David Murray, John McManus, Niall McInerney; Seanie McDermott, Sean Mullooly, Conor Devaney; Tadhg O’Rourke, Enda Smith; Fintan Cregg, Niall Kilroy, Brian Stack; Cian Connolly, Diarmuid Murtagh, Ciarain Murtagh.
Subs: Ian Kilbride for Fintan Cregg (48), Donie Smith for Diarmuid Murtagh (52), Colin Compton for Ciarain Murtagh (65), Shane Killoran for Brian Stack (70+5).
GALWAY: Ruairi Lavelle; Cathal Sweeney, Declan Kyne, Eoghan Kerin; Gary O’Donnell, Gareth Bradshaw, Liam Silke; Fiontan O’Curraoin, Paul Conroy; Tom Flynn, Eamonn Brannigan, Johnny Heaney; Michael Daly, Damien Comer, Shane Walsh.
Subs: Gary Sice for Johnny Heaney (HT), Danny Cummins for Eamonn Brannigan (HT), Micheal Lundy for Tom Flynn (60), David Wynne for Paul Conroy (70+4, BC).
REFEREE: David Gough (Meath).