by James McMahon
Roscommon and Galway have met a total of 51 times in Connacht, with the maroon and white 29-18 ahead on victories, with four draws. 2008 saw their last Championship clash, as Galway eased to a 2-16 to 0-06 victory at Pearse Stadium.
Down through the years, however, the margin of victory for either side has been a lot closer, with the Rossies often surprising theirrivals when least expected.
Galway 0-14 Roscommon 2-12 – Connacht SFC semi-final, 3 June 2001
Tuam Stadium witnessed one of the best games in the history of the Connacht Championship as Roscommon’s never say die attitude saw them beat their neighbours by four points.
On the day, the winners had heroes all over the pitch, with Francie Grehan named man-of the-match after a commanding display that saw him stifle the threats of Jarlath Fallon and Joe Bergin.
Yet,Grehan could have shared equal billing with others, namely Seamus O’Neill at midfield; corner-forwards Nigel Dineen and Franke Dolan; Connor Connelly just ahead of that duo; Paul Noone at No 4 and goalkeeper Derek Thompson.
Roscommon led 2-04 to 0-08 at the break, thanks to goals from Frankie Dolan and Gerry Lohan. However, Galway started the second half brightly, and created great two goal chances, but Derek Thompson stood firm between the posts.
John Donnellan hit a long-range free to draw the sides level, and the feeling was that John O’Mahony’s side would go on and win the game.
However, it was Roscommon who found an extra resolve as points from O’Neill, Gerry and Stephen Lohan gave them a cushion that their opponents could not claw back. Indeed, Galway did not get a score from play in the final 28 minutes of the match.
There much jubilation at the final whistle as Roscommon supporters stormed on to the pitch to applaud their team. A month later at Hyde Park, a first Connacht title in 10 years was won after a narrow victory over Mayo.
Galway licked their wounds and went on the qualifier route. Victories over Wicklow, Armagh and Cork saw them reach the All-Ireland quarter-final where the draw set up a re-match with Roscommon.
McHale Park in Castlebar was the venue and a measure of revenge was achieved, with Galway easily winning a rather disappointing encounter.
Galway 1-17 Roscommon 0-17 (AET) – Connacht SFC final replay, 1 August 1998
A pulsating encounter that had everything from sublime long range scores, and many tired limbs at the end, saw Galway edge out their neighbours.
A fortnight previously, the side could not be separated on a rather inclement day in Tuam. Thankfullly, the sun shone brilliantly for the replay.
Galway thought they had it won in regulation time when Sean de Paor fired over a point with time running out. However, Ray Silke was penalised for pulling Eddie Lohan’s jersey and Roscommon’s top scorer on the day with 0-08, fired over the equaliser deep into injury. And so we were set for an extra 20 minutes.
Galway’s Michael Donnellan and three exquisite points from Jarlath Fallon edged John O’Mahony’s side 0-16 to 0-14 ahead after the first period of added time. Shortly after the re-start came the vital score.
Roscommon goalkeeper Derek Thompson had the ball in his possession and was about to clear his lines when he was somehow dispossessed by Shay Fahy.
This error allowed Michael Donnellan to run in on goal and slam the ball to the net. It was cruel on Thompson, who earlier made two great saves when it looked like Galway were threatening to overrun their opponents.
Roscommon did respond with three unanswered points, but Derek Savage’s injury time white flag sealed the deal for the victors.
After their hard-earned provincial success, Galway easily beat Derry in the All-Ireland semi-final, before seeing off Kildare in the September decider to reclaim Sam Maguire after a gap of 32 years.