Connacht Senior Football Semi Final
Páirc Seán Mac Diarmada
by Brían Mangan
Roscommon had 13 different scorers as they ultimately had far too much for a Leitrim side who battled hard for the full 70 minutes on a warm summers evening in a resplendent Páirc Seán Mac Diarmada.
Leitrim set up quite defensively, as you would expect when a division 4 team meets a division 2 one. They played with a full time sweeper who stayed at home to mind the house at all times, and more often than not it was Shane Quinn. To a certain extent it worked in that first period, Quinn making a number of timely interceptions, frustrating the Rossies as they looked to pick gaps in the Leitrim rearguard and feed their lethal full forward line.
Leitrim started brightly, full forward Keith Beirne drawing a huge roar from the home crowd with a brilliant point into the wind to open the scoring in the second minute. It could have been an even better start for Leitrim when flying wing forward Jack Heslin burst through one on one after only five minutes, but Colm Lavin did well to make himself big and spread himself to keep the ball out. Keith Beirnes follow up was defelected wide off the line by Peter Domican. Roscommon dominated the rest of the half thoroughly and scored some spectacular points. the Murtagh brothers as usual were to the fore kicking points from all angles and distances, four for Diarmuid and two for Ciaráin. Brian Stack, Fintan Cregg and Enda Smith also kicked fine scores in the first period, with Roscommon’s ability to kick accurately from long range proving very useful against the packed defence. The score at the long whistle was 0-9 to 0-2 after Roscommon had played with the advantage of the light summer breeze.
The second half was a bit more of a procession as Roscommon showed the gulf in class between the two counties, eventually running out winners with 14 points to spare. The Rossies scored the first four points of the half through captain Conor Devaney, Donie Smith, Ciaráin Murtagh and Niall Kilroy, which effectively ended the game as a contest. Darragh Rooney then scored the first of his two points 13 minutes into the half in what was Leitrim’s first score since the 9th minute of the first period. Indeed Leitrim had a big impact from their bench, with Damien Moran landing three brilliant points on top of Rooney’s two and a Ryan O’Rourke effort. For the Rossies Cathal Cregg kicked four class points after he was introduced as they cantered to victory, 0-24 to 0-10 being the full time score. Roscommon now advance to the Connacht Final on the 17th of June where they await the winners of Sligo and Galway, while Leitrim face the familiar route of the qualifiers.
Leitrim: D McKiernan, P Maguire, M McWeeney, A Armstrong, J Rooney, D Wrynn (C), S Quinn (0-1), M Plunkett, D McGovern, J Heslin, E Mulligan (0-1 45), N Plunkett, A Flynn, K Beirne (0-2, 0-1f), B Gallagher SUBS: R O’Rourke (0-1), D Rooney (0-2), D Moran (0-3), O Madden, E Ward, D Flynn
Roscommon: C Lavin, D Murray, P Domican, N McInerney, J McManus (0-1), B Stack (0-1), Fintan Cregg (0-1), C Compton (0-1), T O’Rourke (0-1), E Smith (0-2), N Kilroy (0-1), C Devaney (C) (0-1), D Smith (0-2), D Murtagh (0-5, 0-2fs), C Murtagh (0-3, 0-1f) SUBS: C Daly, Cathal Cregg (0-4), Ronan Stack, S Killoran (0-1), Finbar Cregg, P Kelly