Hodson Bay Hotel Group Senior Football Championship (Section A)
Martin Wynne at Orchard Park, Elphin
Boyle gave themselves a fighting chance of reaching the knockout stages with a hard-earned victory over Roscommon Gaels at Elphin on Sunday last. Michael Jordan’s men showed plenty of character to bounce back from a series of setbacks and claim the spoils after a late charge.
The North Roscommon outfit had the better of the opening exchanges and led by 1-2 to 0-3 after the first quarter. The goal, which came on the 15-minute mark, was palmed to the net by Darren O’Connor after slick build-up play from Cian McKeon.
The two points were claimed by David Callaghan and McKeon (free) during the opening four minutes. Gaels responded with three points in a row, between the seventh and 14th minutes, from David O’Gara and Cian Connolly (two frees).
Boyle almost added a second goal in the 19th minute, but goalkeeper James Featherstone made a superb save to deny McKeon. Seven minutes later, Gaels were gifted an opportunity at the other end when a penalty was awarded for a foul on John McManus. Connolly clinically dispatched the spotkick to edge his side into a one-point lead.
However, it was the North Roscommon side who finished the half on the front foot with three unanswered points from Kieran Cox, McKeon (free) and Jim Suffin. The lead was extended to three points shortly after the restart when Tadhg McKenna set up Darren O’Connor for a score.
Boyle were hit by a second sucker punch in the 38th minute when Kieran Kilcline found the net with a piledriver from 15 metres out. It kick-started a period of dominance for the Gaels and they added four points between the 38th and 47th minutes.
The pick of the bunch was a beautifully-struck effort from Connolly with the outside of the boot. James McDermott also hit a couple of decent long-range efforts. A couple of McKeon frees kept the scoreboard ticking over for Boyle, but they were struggling to contain a Gaels side that had upped their game considerably after the break.
Kilcline looked as if he was about to stretch the lead to three points in the 51st minute, but Darren O’Connor got back to make a vital block. It proved to be a pivotal moment as it set in motion a swift counter-attack that resulted in a goal for Killian Cox.
It gave Boyle a much-needed boost, but they were hit by another setback when Connolly responded with a quick 1-1 for Gaels. It handed the Mid Roscommon outfit a 3-8 to 2-8 lead with less than five minutes remaining.
At that stage, it looked as if Gaels had done enough to see off their plucky opponents. But, incredibly, there was yet another twist as substitute Mark O’Connor fisted home a third Boyle goal in the 57th minute.
It brought the sides level for the sixth time in the match, but the momentum was now firmly with the North Roscommon men and they pulled clear with points from Darren O’Connor and Dylan East. Connolly and McKeon swapped late frees to bring the curtain down on a thrilling contest.
BOYLE: R. Kearney; G. Gilmartin, M. Hanmore, C. Beirne; D. East (0-1), S. Purcell, T. McKenna; Kieran Cox (0-1), R. Hanmore; C. Flanagan, J. Suffin (0-1), M. O’Donohoe; C. McKeon (0-5, five frees), D. O’Connor (1-2), D. Callaghan (0-1). Subs used: Killian Cox (1-0) for Flanagan (10 mins), M. O’Connor (1-0) for O’Donohoe (54 mins), C. Goldrick for D. O’Connor (60 mins, black card), M. Goldrick for Gilmartin (60 mins, black card).
ROSCOMMON GAELS: J. Featherstone; Kevin Kilcline, L. McNeela, R. Gleeson; P. Gleeson, J. McManus, K. O’Gara; D. O’Gara (0-1), B. O’Gara; C. Egan, Kieran Kilcline (1-1), B. Kelly; A. Duignan, J. McDermott (0-2), C. Connolly (2-5, one penalty, three frees). Subs used: O. Hannon for Kelly (21 mins, black card), R. Horan for Duignan (half-time), J. Nolan for Kevin Kilcline (54 mins), J. O’Gara for K. O’Gara (60 mins), J. Conteh for B. O’Gara (60 mins).
Wides: Boyle – 5; Roscommon Gaels – 9. Yellow Cards: Boyle – J. Suffin (32 mins), T. McKenna (60 mins); Roscommon Gaels – B. O’Gara (32 mins), K. O’Gara (39 mins), C. Connolly (42 mins), J. Nolan (58 mins), Kieran Kilcline (60 mins).
Black Cards: Boyle – D. O’Connor (60 mins), G. Gilmartin (60 mins); Roscommon Gaels – B. Kelly (20 mins).
Red Cards: Boyle – none; Roscommon Gaels – none.
Referee: V. Hardiman.
Man of the Match: Darren O’Connor (Boyle). A Boyle side weakened by the absence of the Smith brothers produced an excellent team performance to record an unexpected victory. O’Connor epitomised their spirit with a hard-working display that yielded 1-2.
A host of others impressed for the winners, including Cian McKeon, Tadhg McKenna, Dylan East, David Callaghan and young debutant goalkeeper Rob Kearney.
Cian Connolly, Kieran Kilcline and James McDerrmott stood out for Gaels.