Sunday, July 04, 2021

Connacht Senior Football Championship semi-final


Kevin Egan at Dr. Hyde Park

Roscommon’s 31-year wait for a championship win over Galway at Dr. Hyde Park will go on, as the 2021 season came to an end for Anthony Cunningham’s charges in dismal conditions at their home venue this afternoon. The county’s lack of goal threat was a significant issue throughout the league campaign and so it proved to be the key factor this afternoon too as goals from Paul Kelly and Matthew Tierney were vital for Galway, while Roscommon never asked Connor Gleeson to make a meaningful save.

In many other facets of play, the Rossies were hugely competitive. The kickout battle was evenly contested, the damp and greasy conditions made for a physical engagement in which Roscommon were very comfortable, and on a day when scores were hard to come by, it wasn’t until late in the second half that there was real daylight between the sides.

This was modern football throughout, as evidenced by the fact that three of the first eight points were scored by corner backs, while Roscommon wing back Conor Hussey added another. The respective dangermen on both sides were well policed, though Paul Kelly was able to sneak in for a crucial goal after 22 minutes, taking a handpass from Paul Cooke after his club colleague quietly drifted in behind the Roscommon full back line.

Enda Smith put in a towering performance at midfield and a fine score from the Boyle man meant it was finely poised at half time, 1-5 to 0-7, with no real wind advantage.

The Rossie attack never really got going from there however, and quietly, Galway crept two and three points ahead, largely through excellent dead ball scores from Shane Walsh and Matthew Tierney. As the game moved into the last ten minutes, Roscommon were forced to chase the game and that left them vulnerable to the counter attack. One spilled ball from Ciarán Murtagh just ten metres out from the Galway goal led to a swift counter attack up the field, and after Roscommon failed to clear a spilled possession, Tierney was able to strike the ball along the deck and into the bottom corner of Colm Lavin’s net.

Late efforts from Enda Smith and Brian Stack fizzed over rather than under the crossbar as the home side tried to chase the game, but the breakthrough never looked like coming and it was Galway who secured a Connacht final slot against Mayo.

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