By Séamus Leonard
Roscommon booked their place in the Connacht SFC final with a straightforward win over Leitrim in wet and windy conditions at Páirc Seán Mac Diarmada.
The Rossies played with the gale at their back in the first half and a goal from Donie Shine helped them to a 1-07 to 0-02 interval lead.
Emlyn Mulligan impressed for Leitrim but their performance was littered with unforced errors.
Senan Kilbride hit 0-05 for Roscommon, with Conor Devaney’s late goal putting the seal on their victory.
The wind helped the visitors avoid any rustiness from the six-week break they had since overcoming New York on 1 May.
Fergal O’Donnell’s charges were on the scoreboard inside two minutes when Shine got out in front of marker Dermot Reynolds and swung the ball over with his left foot.
Shine was operating in a two-man inside forward line with Kilbride, and the latter doubled Roscommon’s lead with an even more impressive effort off his cuitóg.
The hosts were enduring a sluggish start and that was illustrated when playmaker Mulligan dropped a relatively simple free short in the sixth minute. The centre-forward atoned for his error moments later when he split the posts to open Leitrim’s account.
But Roscommon opened up a 0-04 to 0-01 lead by the tenth minute with overs from Kilbride and Karol Mannion.
Leitrim were enjoying plenty of possession but a combination of poor decision-making and execution saw them fail to add to their tally. The strong wind was a mitigating factor, as was Roscommon’s tactic of packing their defence.
Roscommon’s goal came in the 21st minute as a result of some fine individual play by Shine. The Clan na nGael clubman got on the end of mis-hit shot by Kevin Higgins and he hammered his effort home despite goalkeeper Cathal McCrann helping the ball onto the post.
Conor Beirne responded with a pointed free for Leitrim, but the Rossies went into the interval a further three points ahead thanks to points from Kilbride (free), Cathal Cregg and Senan O’Grady.
Leitrim should have pulled a goal back on the stroke of half-time but Adrian Croal fluffed a pass from Paul Brennan and the ball skewed off his leg and dribbled harmlessly wide.
Roscommon were first on the board in the second period with a fine angled effort from Higgins.
Kilbride could have finished the game as a contest in the 41st minute when Cregg put him through on goal only for the full-forward to crash his shot off the legs of McCrann.
McCrann was called into action again just two minutes later when he produced a fantastic save from a point-blank effort by Higgins.
Mulligan offered the Ridge County some hope in the 52nd minute with a wonderful sliced effort and Ronan Gallagher, who had been moved from full-back to midfield, did his bit with a long-range point a minute later to leave the scoreline at 1-09 to 0-04.
Substitute Brian McDonald almost goaled for Leitrim eight minutes from time but the Glencar/Manorhamilton clubman was unlucky to see his attempt pawed off the line by Niall Carty. Croal followed up but had to settle for a point.
The game was well and truly over by that stage but Devaney had the final say four minutes from full-time when he rounded McCrann before rolling the ball home in his last act before being called ashore.
Leitrim’s win over Sligo gave them a huge boost, but manager Mickey Moran will have a big task to lift his troops after this defeat.
Roscommon look to have improved since last year and whoever emerges from the Galway and Mayo semi-final will have a tough job to prevent them from racking up successive Connacht titles.
Roscommon: G Claffey; S McDermott, P Domican, N Carty; S Ormsby, D Keenan, D Ward; M Finneran, K Mannion (0-01); S O’Grady (0-01), K Higgins (0-02), C Gregg (0-01); C Devaney (1-01), S Kilbride (0-05, 2f), D Shine (1-01).
Subs: S Purcell for Ward (52), E Kenny for Mannion (58), G Heneghan for C Devaney (67), I Kilbride for S O’Grady (70).
Leitrim: C McCrann; D Reynolds, R Gallagher (0-01), P Maguire; B Prior, G Reynolds, W McKeon; T Beirne, D Lowe; P Brennan, E Mulligan (0-02), R Lowe; A Croal (0-01), C Beirne (0-02, 2f), J Glancy.
Subs: D Sweeney for D Lowe (37), J McKeon for Brenna (43), B McDonald for T Beirne (47), C Clarke for R Lowe (62).
Referee: Pat McEnaney (Monaghan).