Roscommon regained the Connacht under-21 football title in emphatic fashion as they routed Leitrim by 0-19 to 1-03 at Páirc Seán Mac Diarmada in Carrick-on-Shannon.
Donie and Enda Smith combined to post five of the first six Roscommon scores but Leitrim roared back with a stunning Alan McLoughlin goal to leave just three points between the teams after a quarter of an hour.
Roscommon calmly overcame this setback and also the loss of Donie Smith (black card) and Fintan Kelly (injury) to accumulate an 0-11 to 1-2 half time lead, before tacking on scores with ease in a one-sided second half.
Roscommon’s crushing victory over Mayo in the first round of the Connacht championship, coming so soon after their Hastings Cup success, had marked them out as a force to be reckoned with in this year’s competition.
However they stumbled in their semi-final meeting with Sligo and many suspected that Leitrim’s battling qualities would test them hugely in this fixture.
Instead, Roscommon exploded out of the blocks and led by five points to no score after just seven minutes, with Enda and Donie Smith posting 0-2 apiece.
Donie Smith was shown a black card by Shane Hehir for an off-the-ball incident after ten minutes but this didn’t seem to halt the Rossies’ gallop and Ciaran Kilcline and Enda Smith added further points, both from long range and both drawing rapturous cheers from the substantial Roscommon contingent in the crowd.
However, the momentum of the game looked like it could have changed direction considerably in the 14th minute when influential centre-back Fintan Kelly pulled up with a hamstring injury and 10 seconds later Alan McLoughlin was sending a stunning 20-yard drive into the top corner of the Roscommon net.
Roscommon wasted no time in getting back into the tie, however, and they could have had a goal of their own when Mark Healy scythed through the Leitrim back line and drew a wonderful save from Brendan Flynn in the Leitrim goal.
Thomas Corcoran pointed the resultant '45' and when the same player added another wonderful long-range free to stretch the lead out to four points yet again, cancelling out a McLoughlin close-range free at the other end, Roscommon were back in control.
Diarmuid Murtagh and Michael Gunning both got on the scoresheet to make it a six-point gap at half time and Roscommon wasted no time in making the result safe immediately after the resumption.
Two Murtagh frees, a wonderful Conor Daly score on the run and two more from man-of-the-match Enda Smith left Roscommon out of sight at 0-16 to 1-3 in front with 20 minutes still to play.
Leitrim badly need a goal to get back into the tie but, while they did create an opening for Niall Burke, his low effort was brilliantly blocked Roscommon captain David Murray.
A dull closing twenty minutes passed without incident and featured just three scores as both sides emptied their benches, Roscommon manager Nigel Dineen in the happy position of doing so with a view to an upcoming All Ireland semi-final meeting with either Cork or Tipperary in a fortnight’s time.
Leitrim: B Flynn; E Fowley, N Woods, E Madden; J Rooney, J Flynn, K McGriskin; D Wrynn, F McHugh; C Clinton, S Quinn, N Moore; T Mulvey, A McLoughlin (1-01, 0-01 free), N Brady (0-02 frees).
Subs: A Mulligan for Moore (30), R Reynolds for Flynn (45), R Flynn for Wrynn (52), M Clancy for Quinn (55), P McHugh for McGriskin (58), P Gallagher for Brady (60).
Roscommon: C Lavin; D Murray, S Mullooly, C Kenny; J McManus, F Kelly, C Daly (0-01); S Killoran, T Corcoran (0-02, 0-01 ’45, 0-01 free); M Nally (0-02), M Healy, D Smith (0-02); D Murtagh (0-03, 0-02 frees), C Kilcline (0-02, 0-01 free), E Smith (0-06).
Subs: M Gunning (0-01) for D Smith (10 – B/C), F Sweeney for Kelly (14), U Harney for Killoran (44), T Featherston for Mullooly (50 – blood), R Daly for Kenny (52), D Carleton for Murtagh (58), T O’Rourke for Corcoran (58).
Referee: S Hehir (Galway)