Roscommon 2-18 Sligo 1-16

Enda Smith’s second half goal was decisive as reigning champions Roscommon advanced to the FBD League final at the expense of Sligo with a 2-18 to 1-16 win at Dr Hyde Park. 

Anthony Cunningham and Paul Taylor took charge of their respective counties for the first time, but it was the former Galway hurling manager who came out on top.

Niall Murphy scored 1-08 but with 11 different scorers, including all three Daly brothers, Roscommon were too good. Shane Killoran and Enda Smith scored a goal in either half for Cunningham’s side.

Murphy, on fire early on, registered 1-06 in the first half, and despite Killoran’s goal, Sligo were 1-10 to 1-06 ahead at half-time.

Roscommon played against the breeze in the opening period but they threatened early and Keelan Cawley was forced into a goal-line clearance from Cathal Cregg’s shot.

Cregg scored Roscommon’s first point from a free in the fourth minute, and that was cancelled out by Murphy’s fine pointed free from distance three minutes later.

Former All Star nominee Enda Smith played the ideal role as link man for Roscommon and his wonderful kick passes put his teammates into open space when that was at a premium.

Conor Daly put Roscommon back in front and then their goal arrived in the tenth minute. It was a hop ball close to Aidan Devaney’s goal and when the Sligo defence failed to deal with the scraps Killoran stepped up to finish to the net.

Luke Towey hit back with a fine point down the right wing but scores from Ciaran Lennon and Enda Smith gave the hosts a 1-04 to 0-02 advantage in the 17th minute.

Roscommon looked in control but wouldn’t score again until the 32nd minute. The game swung in Sligo’s favour as they began to use the wind to their advantage.

Murphy was awesome with three points in a row before Seán Carrabine (free) reduced the arrears to 1-04 to 0-06 in the 23rd minute.

Then Murphy got through on goal and when his shot was stopped on the line by Sean Mullooly, Patrick O’Connor was dragged down for a penalty. Murphy slotted the resultant penalty low to Darren O’Malley’s left for a goal.

By the time Towey and Murphy added a couple of points extra Sligo had scored an unanswered 1-07. Niall Kilroy finally found the reprieve with a point in the 32nd minute but Carrabine scored again for Sligo.

Killoran scored before half-time but Roscommon trailed by 1-10 to 1-06 at the break. They had the breeze to come in the second half, however, and they began to chip into the deficit. 

They were level by the 48th minute when midfielder Caoilean Fitzmaurice scored after earlier efforts from Ronan Daly, Donie Smith and Kilroy.

Roscommon’s second goal came courtesy of Enda Smith in the 49th minute. He fisted the ball in the direction of the goals and it took a deflection before landing into the net. 

Sligo stayed in the fight with substitute Pat Hughes on target twice but Roscommon replacement Colin Compton scored three late points as his side took the win.

Roscommon: Darren O’Malley; Garry Patterson, Sean Mullooly, Conor Daly (0-01); Conor Hussey, Niall Daly (0-01), Ronan Daly (0-01); Tadgh O’Rourke, Caoilean Fitzmaurice (0-01); Niall Kilroy(0-02), Enda Smith (1-03, 0-01f), Shane Killoran (1-01); Donie Smith (0-03, 0-01f), Ciaran Lennon (0-01, 0-01f), Cathal Cregg (0-01, 0-01f).

Subs used: Dara Pettit for Mullooly (29), Hubert Darcy for Lennon (53), Aonghus Lyons for Cregg (55), Evan McGrath for Patterson (56), Colin Compton (0-01, 0-01f) for Kilroy (63).

Sligo: Aidan Devaney; Nathan Mullen, Peter Laffey, John Francis Carr; Keelan Cawley, Paul McNamara, Gerard O’Kelly-Lynch; Paul Kilcoyne (0-01), Darragh Cummins; Seán Carrabine (0-02, 0-02f), Patrick O’Connor, Luke Towey (0-03); Brian McGowan, David Quinn, Niall Murphy (1-08, 0-04, 1-00pen).

Subs used: Luke Nicholson for Carr (5, blood), Carr for Nicholson (7), Adrian McIntyre for Cummins (44), Pat Hughes (0-02, 0-02f) for Quinn (47), Adrian Marren for McGowan (58), Nicholson for O’Connor (61), Alan McLaughlin for Towey (66).

Referee: Jerome Henry (Mayo).