Slowey Leads Rosses to Title

Roscommon 0-9 Offaly 0-8

Roscommon were crowned intermediate champions for 2009 on Sunday after an enthralling final when came back from a three-point deficit and were able to maintain a lead throughout the second half.

A brilliant display by Martin Slowey as he turned back the years was a large part of the victory. He was a constant thorn throughout in all senses. The back line also had a huge game, with five points in 56 minutes outstanding.

Offaly will be disappointed, but the absence of John Purcell was a huge blow. He had a death in the family and our thoughts go out to him and his family.

Vinnie Gavin had two brilliant second half points, but they could not get within the one point as time ran out.

On a slippy and wet surface after two rousing renditions of the anthems, Offaly had a brilliant start. They had three points in the first four minutes, with Colin White and Jason Kelly (two) getting the scores.

Two came when defensive indecisiveness allowed second chances. Offaly took them and punished the Roscommon side.

Two wides also arrived before finally Roscommon got into the game. They had a point after seven minutes when Liam O’Sullivan kicked a free after a long effective Slowey solo run.

Shortly after Shane Russell had a glorious chance at goal when he got a fist to a long delivery from Michael O’Neill, but John McGinley reacted to the danger. His clearance was won by Roscommon, however, and Michael Travers after a lot of work had their second point.

They had their third when Slowey again did the spade work and a quarter in, the sides were level.

The game was now taking on the enthusiasm of the crowd, with Travers pushing his Roscommon teammates into the lead with another excellent effort before O’Sullivan had the fifth as Roscommon had completely turned the game around. They continued to press, but clearances by John Fitzpatrick and Will Holtan kept them at bay.

Offaly clawed back to get their fourth point from Gavin in the 23rd minute that brought them within two, but it was hard work to get into scoring position with John Walsh and Lonan Maguire dominating in the full back line as they came out of the back on four occasions with ball in hand.

In the middle Slowey was covering acres to show form of old, and he was involved in all things positive for his side. They added a point from a free by O’Sullivan when he was fouled deep in the corner, and he stroked a beautiful kick over the bar. It made the half time score 0-6 to 0-4 in favor of Roscommon.

Both sides had wides to open the second half, but it looked far harder for Offaly to generate an offensive chance. Slowey helped to create a point for Roscommon when O’Sullivan chipped over as the Monaghan veteran continued his good form.

Offaly had two chances when Kieran Bergin stormed forward; indeed he was dominating midfield but had little help when he reached the 30 yard line. He kept running, however, and was a constant thorn in Roscommon’s side.

Offaly could feel grieved when two chances at frees were turned down one when Bergin was hit as he kicked wide, the second when the defender looked to have blatantly fouled.

After O’Sullivan hit the post Offaly started a comeback. They used unbelievably shooting from Gavin and Bergin to do it.

A free that looked harmless on the left wing 50 yards from goal began it. Gavin after Bergin was fouled drove it high and true over the lathe. He followed it with another tremendous point from all of 55 yards out straight down the center. 

An Adrian Tate score broke the momentum before Bergin stormed forward to again make it a one-point deficit.

With 10 minutes on the clock both sides were now fighting tooth and nail to take the victory. O’Sullivan had another free when Kieran Keaveney was fouled for the ninth Roscommon point, but again Offaly replied.

A ball deep into the right corner was worked out to Colin White. He pivoted and slotted over to reduce the score to the minimum for the last time.

Roscommon protected Liam Sheehan, with John Walsh, Lonan Maguire, and Donnacha Dunne excellent. Jayson O’Callaghan, the hurler, also did some quality running.

Michael O’Reilly did a lot of hard work, but after a fair shoulder by Enda Condron he faded in the last 10. Adrian Tate was active, while Senan O’Grady, Michael Travers, who showed continuously and had two excellent points, and Kieran Keaveney off the bench also played prominent roles. Slowey was outstanding.

Offaly will take heart in the performances of Anthony Kelly, Ray Keenan and Kieran Bergin, who never gave up and did some fantastic running. Vinnie Gavin lifted the side with his excellent scores, but it was a quite day on the whole for him. Jason Kelly and Colin White were the most dangerous of the forwards.

Offaly: 1 John McGinley, 2 Noel Coughlin, 3 Will Halton, 4 Mark Dolan, 5 Anthony Kelly, 6 Ray Keenan, 7 John Fitzpatrick, 8 Kieran Bergin (0-1), 9 Vinnie Gavin (0-3), 10 John Curran, 11 Jason Kelly (0-2), 12 Tom Rosney, 13 Colin White (0-2), 14 Tim Quaid, 15 Mike Dolan. Subs: Mike Maher, Enda Condron, Brian Fingleton. 

Roscommon: 1 Liam Sheehan, 2 Michael O’Neill, 3 John Walsh, 4 Lonan McGuire, 5 Donnacha Dunne, 6 Colin Nester, 7 Jason O’Callaghan, 8 Adrian Tate, 9 Michael O’Reilly, 10 Martin Slowey, 11 Shane Russell, 12 Senan O’Grady, 13 Nick Mangan, 14 Michael Travers, (0-2), 15 Liam O’Sullivan (0-6). Subs: Kieran Keaveney.

Man of the match: Martin Slowey (Roscommon). He turned back the clock with a brilliant all round display.

Referee: Tommy Fahey (Waterford).