Roscommon 3-21  NY 1-11

It was a very tough day at the office for New York as they faced Roscommon in the first championship game of the 2011 football season.  Falling behind by three points in the first three minutes looked bad, and down 0-8 to 0-1 after 20 looked worse.

A two goal salvo at that juncture by their opponents put the game beyond doubt.  New York had one of their best passages of the game in the last 10 minutes of the first half as they outscored their opponents 0-5 to 0-2.

It gave them false hope, however, as  Roscommon had three of the first four scores to open the second half and then cancelled out a New York three pointer with one of their own. It was coasting and shooting practice from then on.

A couple of elements of the New York performance that did raise a flag was the first half persistence in the long ball into the full forward line. It was not won cleanly or on the break, and bottom line did not work.

Captain Dan Doona received no quality ball into the corner and was a non-factor, although he should have been left on perhaps, as he is a playmaker if used in the right position.

Roscommon had weapons across the field, and their speed continuously put the overworked defense on the back foot. It was a huge recovery for a team that had lost poorly to Longford in the Division 4 league final just a week earlier.

New York won the toss, with Doona deciding to play against the slight hill that is on the excellent surface in Gaelic Park.  It went all wrong, however, for New York, and the first signs came in the first three minutes.
Roscommon had three quick points, with Michael Finneran, Sean Kilbride and Donie Shine the scorers.

What was startling, however, was the way in which they soloed at ease right through the home side to create the scores. The third could have been a free out but went the other way, with Rory Stafford doing little wrong in a tackle.

New York finally got on the scoreboard with Doona firing over a free after CJ Molloy was fouled, but the long high ball was clearly not working for New York as they were not winning it or the breaks from it.

Roscommon continued the bombardment with a further five points, with all coming from play as they came at New York in numbers and waves. Donal Ward was brilliant from the back, while the quality ball into the forwards was giving the New York full back line little chance and a torrid time.

Two yellow cards came for New York, with Paul Lambe and Doona the cautioned, but they were the only reasons for ref Pat McEneney to scribe on the New York side.

As if the game was not going bad enough, what transpired between the 20th and 22nd minutes floored the home side.

First Roscommon’s Sean Kilbride set up Kevin Higgins for a goal when he linked with Cathal Cregg to give the center forward the easy task of fisting to the empty net.

On the resulting kickout Roscommon attacked again. Cregg forced Alan Hearty into a brilliant save, but on the rebound Kilbride grabbed the ball and blasted to the net for a 2-8 to 0-1 advantage.

New York did react in the last 12 minutes of the half in a positive light. They had five of the last seven points in the first stanza.

Ken O’Connor had a goal chance that he blasted over, while Seamus Toner (he had been introduced for

Kevin Walsh) reacted first to a ball that broke from Molloy and blasted low towards the net. Geoff Claffey made a very smart save to deny the Armagh man. Roscommon had a clear cut goal chance at the other end with two minutes left in the half. Donal Ward had a long solo run and avoided challenges from at least four players. He blasted wide from the right side, and then momentum carried him into the umpire for a nasty collision.

When the dust settled Doona had the last score of the first half, a free when an off the ball foul was committed on a Jason Kelly delivery to the square. It left New York trailing 2-10 to 0-6 at the short whistle.

While Roscommon had a point to open the second half two minutes in, it was New York that had the two best chances in the first five. After losing the throw-in the home side recovered the ball, and it was fed to

Adrian O’Connor who took off on a long solo run that began 50 yards from goal. He broke two tackles but shot wide.

After the Ross point, a five player move resulted in O’Connor again getting into scoring position but another wide resulted.

Enda Kenny joined the fray as a blood sub for Roscommon, and with his first touch he fired over a classy effort. New York’s Kelly did cancel it out with a 50 after Brendan McGourty forced Geoff Claffey into clearing the ball behind the end line, but within a minute Roscommon had their 13th point when the ball bounced over the full back line and Kilbride fired over.

Now leading 2-13 to 0-7, a lifeline was thrown to New York.  They won a sideline on the left about 45 yards from goal.  Doona stepped up and fired towards the square. Big Kenny O’Connor went highest and flicked the ball to the back of the net.

Roscommon did complain that Doona had stepped over the line, (you must stay behind it per a rule change in 2010) but not for long.

With New York hoping that they could have a miraculous recovery, the visitors moved the ball quickly up the field, with Kenny receiving it on the 40. He found Cregg, who gave Hearty no chance from short distance with a brilliant goal.

New York did have one last hurrah, and it is one that may remain on the question pole for a while. They won a free in front of goal when Molloy was fouled.

Kelly stepped up and drove a rifle shot towards the net. It rebounded back of the post -- or was it the pole at the back of the net?  The New York forwards seemed to think so.

t was cleared quickly, however, and the referee did not even bother to check with umpires on the validity of the claim. Roscommon added six of the next seven points of the game, and then started to add substitutes at their ease.

Toner did drive a shot into the side netting on 20 minutes, but it was not close to giving Claffey a problem.

The teams evenly distributed six points as the game wound down, with Kelly (another 45), Molloy and

Francie Cleary the home scorers, while Kilbride had an excellent score in the Roscommon mix.
It was all just for statistics at this point, however, as Roscommon coasted home.

New York: 1 Alan Hearty, 2 Paul Lambe, 3 Rory Stafford, 4 Ronan McGinley, 5 John McGoldrick, 6 Brendan McGourty, 7 Aiden Power, 8 Pat Madden, 9 Stephen Harold (0-1),10 Jason Kelly (0-2), 11 Adrian O’Connor, 12 Kevin Walsh, 13 Dan Doona (0-4), 14 CJ Molloy (0-2), 15 Ken O’Connor (1-1). Subs: Mike Jim Fitzgerald for McGoldrick 20 mins, Seamus Toner for Walsh 28 mins, Kevin Smith for Harold halftime, Francie Cleary (0-1) for Doona 48 mins, Damien O’Boyle for Madden 63 mins. 

Roscommon: 1 Geoffrey Claffey, 2 Seam McDermott, 3 Peter Domican (0-1), 4 Niall Carty, 5 Donal Ward, 6 David Keenan, 7 Ian Kilbride, 8 Michael Finneran (0-1), 9 Karol Mannion (0-1), 10 Conor Devanney (0-4), 11 Kevin Higgins (1-1), 12 Cathal Cregg (1-1), 13 Senan O’Grady, 14 Senan Kilbride (1-4), 15 Donie Shine (0-5). Subs: Enda Kenny (0-1) for O’Grady 45 mins, Seamus O’Neill (0-1) for Devanney 58 mins, Sean Purcell for Ward 58 mins, Ger Heneghan for Cregg 63 mins, Stephen Ormsby for Kilbride 66 mins.

Referee: Pat McEneaney (Monaghan).
He has a different style of reffing. He controlled the game with yellows, never allowing anything nasty to materialize, granted with the scoreline so lopsided the level of intensity was gone early. Perhaps he should have went to the umpires and discussed the possible New York score, but if he was confident that it was not he had no reason to. Give him an eight out of 10.
Man of the match for Roscommon? A host of possibilities.  When the game was still there for the taking, Donal Ward was outstanding. Getting breaks at the back, moving the ball out quickly a d dominant across the field.

For New York? The last time a defeat was this bad was against Mayo when Eric Bradley, Michael Slowey and Eunan Doherty were the lone New York stars. It was that bad on Sunday.
Alan Hearty could not be faulted, he made a couple of great stops. Jason Kelly covered acres and kept battling. His two 50s were brilliant.
If everyone showed the same passion it may have been different. Kelly gets the nod.

Roscommon’s Michael Finneran tries to block Adrian O’Connor’s shot on goal.Margaret Purcell Roddy