Roscommon 3-19 -
Kevin McStay got pretty much everything he wanted out of Wednesday’s victory against Sligo at Kiltoom. The manager will have gleaned encouragement from another productive showing in front of goal, but the concession of two late goals will have been absorbed. It represents a warning to ensure that no one will be getting ahead of themselves.
In terms of an exercise in maximising the dividend from chances that came the home side’s way, Roscommon ticked most of the boxes. A few efforts went astray but that was always going to be the case in a game as open as this one was.
The report card also detailed that Roscommon’s defending was far too loose in the opening half. Too much latitude was given to Sligo players in possession. In fairness, Roscommon tightened up considerably for the bulk of the second half but the concession of those late goals from Adrian Marrren and Kyle Cawley in injury time was a timely reminder of the price to be paid when concentration levels take a nosedive.
Roscommon introduced three subs at half time, and two of them, Donie Smith and Finbarr Cregg, were central to their side’s scoring charge after the break. Cregg was deployed further from goal than he was against Leitrim. His pace and workrate manufactured the space for Roscommon to add to their tally.
Having kicked four points in the second half a week earlier against Leitrim, Smith fell one short of that tally here. But it’s his ability to land a score from nothing that brings that little bit of X Factor to Roscommon’s forward division. Ciaráin Murtagh’s contribution of 0-5 was also very significant when his side needed to ensure that there would be no way back for the opposition.
Ciarán and Fergal Lennon did well too. The young Clann na nGael full-forward was often the focal point of the attack, especially in the opening half. He thundered out in front of his marker and always took the right option. It was good to see older brother Fergal back in the fray too after an injury disrupted 2017, and he did his cause no harm with a display laden with energy from wing-back.
The goals arrived in the opening half when, ironically, Sligo were on parity in plenty of areas. Lennon set up Cian McKeon for the first three-pointer after four minutes, skipping around his marker before squaring possession for the Boyle player. McKeon’s initial effort was blocked but he made no mistake with the rebound.
Then a poor Sligo kickout in the 12th minute was fielded by Ciaráin Murtagh. He fed McKeon who turned sharply before applying a tidy finish.
A calamitous third goal arrived in the 31st minute. Sligo corner-back Eddie McGuinness fielded possession comfortably in his full-back line. But his hand pass to Sligo goalkeeper Aidan Devaney was spilled, which left Diarmuid Murtagh with the simplest of tasks of tapping the ball into the empty net.
Leading by 3-8 to 0-8 at the break, Roscommon went about their business efficiently in the second half. Smith, Murtagh, Conor Daly and Cregg posted some delightful scores, but it’s the concession of those goals in injury time that Kevin McStay will use as ammunition at training this week.
ROSCOMMON: A. Brady; S. McDermott, J. McManus, N. McInerney; C. Daly (0-2), S. Mullooly, F. Lennon (0-2); E. Smith, Fintan Cregg; N. Daly, C. Murtagh (0-5, one free), P. Kelly (0-1); D. Murtagh (1-2, one free), C. Lennon (0-1), C. McKeon (2-1). Subs used: H. Darcy for Kelly (24 mins, black card), D. Murray for Mullooly (half-time), Finbarr Cregg (0-2) for N. Daly (half-time), D. Smith (0-3) for McKeon (half-time), T. McKenna for F. Lennon (54 mins), P. Domican for McInerney (54 mins).
SLIGO: A. Devaney; E. McHugh, P. Laffey, E. McGuinness; Keelan Cawley (0-1), P. Kilcoyne, J. Gillen; J. Clarke (0-1), D. Cummins; N. Mullen (0-2), F. Cawley, S. Carrabine; S. Coen (0-3, one free), A. Marren (1-2, one free, one ’45), Kyle Cawley (1-0). Subs used: G. O’Kelly-Lynch for Gillen (half-time), M. Gordan for McHugh (half-time), P. Hughes (0-1) for Coen (half-time), C. Lally for Mullen (46 mins), K. Henry for Carrabine (57 mins), P. McNamara for Keelan Cawley (61 mins).
Referee: P. Lydon (Mayo).
Player of the Match: Ciaráin Murtagh (Roscommon). A performance laden with endeavour, especially in the second half when last year’s captain kicked some sumptuous points from play.
Fergal and Ciarán Lennon did very well, the latter constantly showing for possession and winning pretty much everything that came his way.
Cian McKeon enjoyed a productive opening half with two well-taken goals. Fintan Cregg worked extremely hard throughout. Donie Smith and Finbarr Cregg made notable contributions off the bench.