The second quarterfinal of the intermediate championship (Offaly beat Kerry in the first last week) was far closer than Roscommon would have liked it to be.
It was of their own doing, however, as they allowed Armagh to stay close with wayward shooting in the first half. Armagh made them pay with dogged determination that kept the game close; in fact they led at the break.
In the end, however, Michael Travers had an inspired second half where he led his side to victory.
Armagh opened brightly with two points in the first five minutes from Alan Hearty, the first a free when James Moynagh was fouled, the second when he linked with the same player on a short free and drove high over. Roscommon had a perfect answer, however, to the early misfortune. A long ball into Jayson O’Callaghan was grabbed by the player and he headed for goal.
He was certainly fouled in the large box with the ref deciding that the indiscretion warranted a penalty. Senan O’Grady slotted low to the net for their first score.
They had a sustained period of dominance following this with which they put a further two points on the board. They should have had more though, as they had five wides in the same period. Travers, O’Grady and Liam O’Sullivan from frees were all guilty.
Armagh took the mercy and stormed out from it. They started the resurgence with an excellent if a little lucky Moynagh point from wide off the left of the end of the boot. He chipped over a free when Lyons was fouled moments later.
The tails were up now, with Lyons and Sean Kelly adding further points to their total to now give them 0-06 to 1-2 lead.
When Garth Kelly stormed forward with three minutes left in the half, he had goal on his mind. He crashed a laser of the crossbar before Lyons grabbed the rebound and chipped over.
O’Sullivan had a Roscommon point after the kick out, their first in 14 minutes, but it brought back the deficit to one as the half arrived.
Armagh continued their good form to open the second half with two points from Kevin McGeeney and Lyons in the first two minutes. It awoke a sleeping monster, however, as Roscommon in a game that had waves had their best of the afternoon.
Six points unanswered from Travers (three) O’Sullivan (two) and O’Grady gave them a one-goal advantage with 10 minutes gone. But for an excellent save by Donal Hearty on O’Grady it could have been more.
With a quarter left in the contest Roscommon were dominating, not allowing Armagh any genuine chances. Their best one arrived at this time when a toe poke from Garth Kelly went agonizingly wide.
It was into the 24th minute before Armagh had their next score. Moynagh had a free but it was cancelled by an Adrian Tate score to keep the lead at three, 1-10 to 0-10.
Armagh kept looking for the goal they needed at this stage, and another score by Moynagh was again cancelled out by Roscommon, another Travers score.
With time ticking away one last gasp attack was set up, with Sean Kelly and Moynagh involved before Garth Kelly got through on goal. His blistering shot was turned over the bar at the expense of a point by the diving Liam Sheehan.
A hugely important stop. With that time ran out for Armagh.
Roscommon will be delighted with the performances of Sheehan for the save alone, Michael O’Neill and Donnacha Dunne at the back. Adrian Tate was the best of the midfielders, Senan O’Grady and Shane McKeever did a lot of work, while Liam O’Sullivan clicked in the second half from frees and Travers was magnificent.
Armagh will rue the loss -- a case of ifs. Patsy Martin, Sean Kelly and Conor Hunter when he dropped to defense were prominent at the back. James Moynagh had some good moments, Garth Kelly some excellent runs, while Kevin McGeeney also covered a lot of ground.
Roscommon: 1 Liam Sheehan, 2 Michael Curley, 3 John Walsh, 4 Michael O’Neill, 5 Donnacha Dunne, 6 Michael O’Reilly, 7 Nick Mangan, 8 Adrian Tate (0-2), 9 Michael Kenny, 10 Senan O’Grady (1-1), 11 Shane McKeever, 12 Jason O’Callaghan, 13 Liam O’Sullivan (0-4), 14 Shane Russell, 15 Michael Travers (0-4). Subs: Niall Nerney, Peter Conroy.
Armagh: 1 Donal Hearty, 2 Joe Mooney, 3 Patsy Martin, 4 Chris Morton, 5 Aiden Morton, 6 Garth Kelly (0-1), 7 Sean Kelly (0-1), 8 Collie Fearon, 9 Peter McGeeney, 10 Conor Hunter, 11 James Moynagh (0-4), 12 Kevin McGeeney (0-1), 13 Aiden Carragher, 14 Alan Hearty (0-2), 15 Shane Lyons (0-3). Subs: Sean McMullan, Niall Farrelly.
Man of the match: Michael Travers (Roscommon).
Referee: Tommy Fahey (Waterford).
Kelly Takes Cavan to Playoffs
Cavan 1-13 Donegal 1-7
The Cavan juggernaut continues. After a win over Four Provinces, the Breffni Boys defeated Donegal to claim the sixth playoff slot in the senior football division.
After a string of losses to open the season, they now have a draw and two wins in their last four to start peaking for the playoffs.
Cavan started strong with three of the first four points. Garth Kelly in his second game of the day had two, while Kieran Gannon had the third to go against a Gary Dowd Donegal point.
Further scores by John Flanagan and Kevin McGeeney extended the before Donegal had their best period of the game.
John McNicholas grabbed a short Cavan kick out and chipped over. He added a second from a free when Tom Hardwick was fouled before Phil Gasparino had a shot at goal dip wickedly into the top of the net. It gave Donegal a 1-3 to 0-5 lead as the final 10 minutes of the half arrived.
Cavan made Eunan Doherty make a good save from Gannon before they finally hit the board again with Flanagan and Kelly scores after McNicholas had his third of the day to leave the sides even at the short whistle.
Cavan had a perfect start to the second half when Gannon and Brian Naughton did the spadework to release McGeeney for a goal with minutes of the whistle.
They followed it with a score from Paddy Smith to extend the lead, but Donegal had their last challenge as three scores from McNicholas pulled the deficit back to 1-8 to 1-7.
That was it on the scoreboard for Donegal as Cavan pushed forward. They had five points without reply with Kelly, Flanagan, sub Johnny Burke and two McGeeney scores pushing the side out into a six-point advantage.
Donegal did not threaten in this time as Cavan ensured that they would be playing on the long weekend in playoff football.
For Cavan, Kevin Shalvey did all that was needed and had some important clearances in the first half. Michael Smith, the impressive Brian Naughton and Brendan Reilly, who had a good battle with New York teammate McNicholas, all did well at the back. Conor Brady (first half), John Flanagan, who picked off three nice scores, and Tomo Smith all did well around the middle. Garth Kelly and Kevin McGeeney combined for 1-6 in their second game -- not too shabby.
Donegal will look at the performances of Eunan Doherty, Aiden Downes, John McNicholas and Bobby McDonald as their best. They now have a relegation battle with Four Provinces as the Philly side lost to Tyrone over the weekend.
Cavan move on to wait for a rival in the quarters.
Cavan: 1Kevin Shalvey, 2 Michael Smith, 3 Alan Carolan, 4 Eoghan Williams, 5 James Gannon, 6 Brendan Reilly, 7 Brian Naughton, 8 Conor Brady, 9 Dave Walsh, 10 John Fitzpatrick (0-1), 11 Paddy Smith (0-1), 12 John Flanagan (0-3), 13 Kevin McGeeney (1-2),14 Gareth Kelly (0-4),15 Kevin Gannon (0-1). Subs: Michael McEntee, John Bourke (0-1).
Donegal: 1Eunan Doherty, 2 Kevin Purce, 3 James Huvane, 4 Justin Friel, 5 Tony McMahon, 6 Aidan Downes, 7 Anton Toner, 8 Gary Dowd (0-1), 9 Tom Hardwick, 10 Bobby McDonald, 11 John McNicholas (0-6), 12 Del Ferreira, 13 Philip Gasparino (1-0), 14 Mike Miro, 15 Pat McGill.
Man of the match: Garth Kelly (Cavan).
Referee: Sean Jones (Fermanagh).
Cavan Are Connaughton Champions
Cavan 6-14 Fermanagh 1-4
Cavan were easy winners of the Peter Connaughton Cup on Sunday when they had far too many weapons for Fermanagh.
With a goal in the first minute from Rosie O’Reilly and a bombardment of points in the following 10-minute period, the contest was decided early. Fermanagh had 1-2 in a seven-minute spurt halfway through the first half, but it was easily cancelled out by an Emma Clarke goal and points from the same player and Kelly McArdle. The side went into the break with a comfortable 2-9 to 1-2 advantage.
Clarke added a goal in the opening moments of the second half, and shortly thereafter was pulled back into a defensive role. A further 3-5 for Cavan as they got goals from long distance shots by McArdle and a close in three pointer by Roisin Clarke gave them an insurmountable lead.
Fermanagh never stopped fighting, however, and they had two points to close out the game from Caroline Murphy and Marie Dunleavy.
Cavan have a host of young players who will be the backbone of the side in the years to come. Ashley Callery, Katie McEvoy, Roisin Clarke, the Kilkenny girls and Caitlin Hynes will all improve because of this year.
Kelly McArdle has been around for a while but is still in high school. A Rosie future awaits the squad.
Fermanagh for all their heavy losses this year are a resolute outfit that never throws in the towel. Ann Marie Kelly, Caroline McArdle, Nicola King and Caroline Murphy all battled hard.
Cavan: 1 Bridget Mulligan, 2 Katie Kilkenny, 3 Ashley Callery, 4 Katie McEvoy, 5 Siobhan Devlin, 6 Nicola Rogan, 7 Roisin Clarke (2-1), 8 Linda McKeon (0-3), 9 Rosie O’Reilly (1-0), 10 Carol McNicholas (0-1), 11 Kelly McArdle (1-3), 12 Nora Kilkenny, 13 Caitlin Hynes (0-2),14 Emma Clarke (2-4),15 Sharon Brady.
Fermanagh: 1 Kelsie Boyle, 2 Christina Brown, 3 Ann Marie Kelly, 4 Donna Traynor, 5 Caroline McArdle, 6 Clare McElroy, 7 Noleen Fitzpatrick, 8 Tracy Ann McCullough, 9 Caitlin Slattery, 10 Nicola King, 11 Lisa Utlanski, 12 Molly Boyle (0-1), 13 Caitlin McGuigan, 14 Caroline Murphy (0-2), 15 Saoirse Finnigan (1-0). Sub: Marie Dunleavy (0-1).
Player of the game: Emma Clarke (Cavan)
Referee: Dean O’Connor (Sligo).
Kingdom Does a Double
Kerry 2-12 Down 1-11
Kerry New York emulated Kerry Ireland with a win that was surprising but excellent when they shocked the GAA fraternity and Down with a four point win on Sunday.
With Ross Donavon kicking the way with brilliant frees and the side using a goal in each half, they are now equal with Down in the league table with a game against Cork coming up this week. That will decide who finishes third and have Cavan next week, while the two remaining sides face each other in the other quarterfinal.
After a period of time waiting for Kerry, the game started with a Garth O’Neill score as soon as Down advanced the throw in. Donovan cancelled it out on the eighth minute, and both sides had two further scores as we reached the 16 minute mark with the teams tied on three.
Kerry had a tremendous period in the next seven minutes as they through away the pre match script. Donovan started the onslaught with a 55-yard free from the center of the pitch.
A Kieran Bergin ball from the left wing found Liam Clifford moments later, and as he was challenged he slipped the ball to Dermie Foley who dually crashed it to the net.
Further points from Donovan (two excellent frees) preceded an Eoghan O’Mahony point when he galloped forward to help the forward line. It left the side with a 1-7 to 0-3 lead as the half approached.
It was a needed break for Down as they had been stunned by the first half onslaught.
Down did open the second half in better shape as they had four points from Michael Sloan (three) and Robbie Moran. Points from Kennelly and Ross Donovan, however, kept Kerry ahead by 1-9 to 0-8 with 10 minutes gone.
Down looked to be on all the way back when they received a break form the Kerry defense. A cross field ball was dropped by the back line and Pakie Downey grabbed it before feeding Sloan, who found net. Downey had the equalizer when he linked with Gary Cornyn shortly after and it was new ball game.
The Kingdom were not in a generous mood, however, and they went back to work at the offensive end. A Donovan point was followed by a brilliant Vinnie Gavin score before a long ball into the top of the square was flicked by Shane Carty to the net for an improbable but very important goal. They had responded to the Down resurgence and had pulled away for an impressive win.
Kerry had a very different lineup in this outing, but hard work across the board got them the win. Eoghan O’Mahoney, Niall Corbett and Tommy Quaid all had important moments at the back. Vinnie Gavin did a lot of positive things in the center.
Shane Carty hustled throughout his goal included; Dermie Foley is a dangerous inside forward while Ross Donovan had a couple of tremendous scores in his seven.
Down have now lost two in a row as they head to the playoffs, not a good formula. Brian Murray, Gary Cornyn, Garth O’Neill (first half) and Michael Sloan, who was their best player, were the best performers.
Kerry: 1 Ger O’Sullivan, 2 Enda Lally, 3 Eoghan O’Mahoney (0-1), 4 Alan Lynn, 5 Niall Corbett, 6 Shane Coffey, 7 Tom Quaid, 8 Vinnie Gavin (0-1), 9 Bingo O’Driscoll, 10 Shane Carty (1-1), 11 Anthony Glacken, 12 Liam Clifford, 13 Dermie Foley (1-1), 14 Ross Donovan (0-7), 15 Paudie Doyle. Subs: Gary Kennelly (0-1), Kieran Bergin, Dean Doherty.
Down: 1 Mark Kelly, 2 Brian Murray, 3 Eugene O’Hagan, 4 Diarmuid Hayes, 5 Barry Annette, 6 James Mitchell, 7 Gary Cornyn, 8 Gareth O’Neill (0-1), 9 Brendan McGourty, 10 Mark Dobbin, 11 Michael Sloan (1-6), 12 Seamus Kelly, 13 Pakie Downey (0-2), 14 Robbie Moran (0-1), 15 Declan Traynor (0-1).
Man of the match: Ross Donovan (Kerry).
Referee: Jimmy Naughton (Roscommon).