Fourteen-man Roscommon kept their promotion hopes alive with a very convincing and impressive win over Offaly in Tullamore on Sunday afternoon.
Roscommon play Galway in their final group game next Sunday and will also be keeping an eye on Navan where Derry play Meath. This win and performance, however, will send them into their final game in a very confident frame of mind.
They were way better than Offaly, killing the game off as a contest in the first half and controlling it with a huge degree of comfort in the second half – Offaly are at home to Cork in a winners-takes-all relegation shootout.
The Roscommon attack was excellent in the first half, firing over points from all over the place. There were two controversial, defining incidents in the first half. The first was the dismissal of Roscommon attacker Keith Doyle for a second yellow card in the 14th minute – it was soft enough - while the Roscommon goal in the 25th minute was also debatable as Donie Smith got a Cathal Heneghan pass into the net but it did not look to be a clear striking action and could have been ruled out.
The two incidents probably cancelled each other out in terms of their importance on the outcome and, overall, there was no disputing the superiority of Roscommon.
Their forwards were magical in the first half, getting some quality points. They came flying out of the blocks and were 0-08 to 0-02 ahead when Doyle saw red. For a while after that it looked like Offaly would make a game out of it as they scored four of the next six points to reduce it to 0-10 to 0-06 with 25 minutes gone.
Offaly had begun to play better, attacking with more pace but the sting was taken out of them with Smith's goal. As David Demsey and Rory Egan didn't take half goal chances for Offaly, Smith finished the half on a high, getting the final two points, the second a fantastic score from play as Roscommon led by 1-12 to 0-07 at the break.
Roscommon were nowhere near as good in the second half but they didn't need to be and their win was never in the slightest of doubts. They didn't produce the same hunger but continued to control the game and a 45th minute goal from Enda Smith ended any Offaly illusions.
The quality of Roscommon's attacking display is demonstrated by the fact that they had only one wide and that only came in the 68th minute. Offaly were much more wasteful with 12 wides, nine in the second half, though they did get four of the last six points.
Roscommon: Colm Lavin; David Murray, Brian Stack, Eoin McCormack; Richard Hughes (0-01), Niall Daly, Ronan Daly (0-01); Ultan Harney (0-01), Eddie Nolan (0-01); Ciaran Murtagh (0-01), Enda Smith (1-00), Keith Doyle (0-01); Cathal Heneghan, Donie Smith (1-03, 1f), Conor Cox (0-05, 2f and 1m).
Subs: Niall Kilroy (0-01) for Donie Smith (50m), Cian McKeon (0-02) for Heneghan (50), Paul Carey for Murtagh (55), Diarmuid Murtagh (0-1) for Cox (58), Shane Cunnane for Harney (61).
Offaly: Paddy Dunican (0-01 '45); Declan Hogan, James Lalor, Niall Darby; Ciaran Donnelly (0-01), David Dempsey, Rory Egan; Cathal Donoghue (0-01), Jordan Hayes; Mark Abbott, Dylan Hyland (0-01), Bill Carroll (0-01); Bernard Allen, Anton Sullivan (0-01), Niall McNamee (0-05, 3f).
Subs: Joseph O'Connor for Dempsey (ht), Kieran Dolan for Egan (ht), Ruari McNamee (0-02) for Abbott (ht), Cathal Flynn for Hyland (54), Johnny Moloney (0-01) for Donnelly (58).
Referee: Anthony Nolan (Wicklow).