Former Kerry footballer Conor Cox played a leading role as Roscommon upset the odds to beat high-flying Monaghan for the first time in six years in a dramatic, action-packed clash at Dr Hyde Park.
Cox shot five points from frees, including a spectacular stoppage-time effort from the left wing, to mark his first start with his adopted county in style.
And Roscommon wing-back Ronan Daly added the insurance score eight minutes into injury-time to seal a crucial first win of the campaign for last season’s Division 2 champions.
Monaghan also finished the game with fourteen men after substitute Stephen O’Hanlon was shown a straight red card by referee Seán Hurson after an off the ball incident in the dying moments.
Malachy O’Rourke’s side never hit the sort of form that saw them beat All-Ireland champions, Dublin, a week earlier.
They introduced Drew Wylie, Conor McManus, Ryan McAnespie and Karl O’Connell during the course of the match, but found Roscommon in uncompromising form.
Despite playing from the 60th minute to the 70th minute with two extra players — after the home side had the aforementioned Conor Cox and Tadgh O’Rourke both sent to the sin-bin in quick succession — Monaghan were unable to get on top.
In fact they only added tagged on points from Conor McManus (free) and Dermot Malone during that spell to edge ahead by 0-11 to 0-10 on 67 minutes.
A watershed moment arrived less than 60 seconds later when Roscommon’s Ultan Harney was pulled down in the square, and team captain Enda Smith stepped up to crack the resultant penalty past Rory Beggan.
Down by two points heading into added-time, Monaghan dug out a couple of scores from frees from Jack McCarron and Conor McManus, who had come off the bench at half-time, to level the match for the sixth time.
A draw looked the most likely outcome at that stage, but Anthony Cunningham’s new-look Roscommon side had other ideas, and they finished with a flourish with Conor Cox and Ronan Daly landing the decisive scores.
Cox, whose last inter-county appearance was a national league match in 2016 for Kerry against his adopted county, qualifies to play for Roscommon under the parentage rule.
He shot a couple of early wides but went on to convert two frees that helped the Rossies to deservedly lead by 0-06 to 0-04 at half-time, despite shooting eight wides.
The Westerners would have been further ahead too were it not for a brilliant save by All Star goalkeeper Rory Beggan to deny Roscommon defender Evan McGrath in the 26th minute.
The sides traded scores early on through Dessie Ward and Enda Smith, but Monaghan found it difficult to make inroads against the homeside’s well-organised defensive system.
Roscommon were also counter-attacking impressively and points from the aforementioned Conor Cox (free), Niall Kilroy and the outstanding Niall Daly eased them ahead by 0-04 to 0-02 after 20 minutes.
Time and again during the second quarter, Monaghan attacks broke down as the three Daly brothers and company locked down the Roscommon defence.
So it was left to Rory Beggan to drill over two long-range frees in the 22nd and 33rd minutes to keep the scoreboard ticking over for the Farney men.
Roscommon replied on each occasion through place-kicks from goalkeeper Darren O’Malley (a ’45) and Conor Cox (free) to maintain their two point cushion at the interval.
Monaghan came flying out of the blocks after the restart and shot five points in the space of twelve minutes from Conor McManus (2), Conor McCarthy, Dessie Ward and Fintan Kelly to surge ahead by 0-09 to 0-07.
However, Roscommon rolled their sleeves up, weathered the Monaghan resurgence, and scores from Ultan Harney, Conor Cox (free) and Niall Kilroy had them back in front by the 58th minute.
The game took on a life of its own in the last 20 minutes, but Roscommon were still ahead when Seán Hurson finally blew for full-time.
Monaghan welcome Galway to Inniskeen next Sunday in round three while Roscommon will return to Dr Hyde Park to take on Tyrone.
Roscommon: D O’Malley (0-01, ’45); D Murray, C Daly, E McGrath; C Hussey, N Daly (0-01), R Daly (0-01); T O’Rourke, E Smith (1-01, 1-00pen); S Killoran, U Harney (0-01), N Kilroy (0-02); C Cox (0-05, 5fs), C Compton, C Cregg.
Subs used: C Lennon for Compton (34); C Devaney for Cregg (53).
Monaghan: R Beggan (0-02, 2fs); K Duffy, C Boyle, R Wylie; D Ward (0-02), B Kerr, C Walshe; D Hughes, F Kelly (0-01); S Carey, J McCarron (0-02, 1f), G Doogan; C McCarthy (0-01, mark), D Malone (0-01), M Bannigan.
Subs used: D Wylie for Boyle (17, inj); C McManus (0-04, 3fs) for Bannigan (HT); R McAnespie for Doogan (43); K O’Connell for Carey (53);
Referee: S Hurson (Tyrone)