A more experienced Galway team got their act together in the second half to see off a young, inexperienced Roscommon team by two points, 1-18 to 1-16, in this evening’s highly competitive FBD Connacht League final at the NUI Galway Connacht GAA Air Dome.
Anthony Cunningham’s charges, who retired their number 23 jersey for the game in memory of Ashling Murphy, were in a good place at half time, leading by 0-10 to 1-6 but a third quarter surge by the Tribesmen turned the game on its head before Roscommon rallied again, coming up just short.
With Conor Cox picking up from where he left off against Sligo, Roscommon started sharply — the Éire Óg corner-forward landing three points early on.
Roscommon were in the ascendency, leading by 0-8 to 0-4, when Galway corner-forward Patrick Kelly squared possession to allow full-back Seán Fitzgerald, who was up with the play, to find the net.
But Roscommon responded through excellent points from Cathal Heneghan and Andy Glennon to lead by a point at the break.
The introduction of Matthew Tierney was a signal of intent from Galway at the start of the second half, joining Shane Walsh who had joined the action in the first half.
Suddenly, Roscommon, under pressure, started making too many mistakes, allowing Galway counter-attack efficiently and pick off their scores — captain Seán Kelly, Paul Conroy, Walsh, Tierney and Robert Finnerty leading the charge.
Enda Smith’s 55th minute goal gave Roscommon a lifeline, and although Galway managed to keep their noses in front, they were pushed by their opponents who refused to throw in the towel and kept tacking on scores through Ciarán Sugure, Ultan Harney and Conor Cox to set up a grandstand finish.
But Galway held on to retain the title they won in Dr. Hyde Park in 2020.
*Match report and reaction in Tuesday’s Roscommon Herald
As a mark of respect to the late Ashling Murphy our senior footballers will not wear the number 23 jersey in this evenings FBD final.
Everyone in Roscommon GAA extends our deepest sympathy to the family & friends of Ashling.
An absolute heartbreaking tragedy. 💔 pic.twitter.com/s1cfyCtvKQ
— Brian Carroll (@bcarroll17) January 14, 2022