Roscommon secured a prized Connacht SFC final date next month with a 1-09 to 0-05 win over Leitrim tonight. Declan Rowley's side gave it a good shot in front of 14,358 but three wides inside the first 14 minutes was a preamble to a poor showing from his charges.
John Hanley struck the crucial goal ten minutes into the second half after a lacklustre first period saw the Ros just 0-04 to 0-03 in front. Frankie Dolan (free) and Jimmy Guckian traded scores, with Guckian's tenth minute score being followed up by a flowing second Leitrim score as Niall Gilbane's offload saw Guckian and Donal Brennan fed Fintan McBrien for a right-wing point.
Roscommon should have had a goal to their name before the break but Leitrim's Colin Regan got back well to clear Karol Mannion's shot off the line, with Dolan pointing the '45. Substitute Jonathan Dunning tagged on a fourth Ros score on the half hour, but Michael Foley made it a one-point game at the break with an injury time effort.
Shorn of possession, the Ros goal came at just the right time as Francie Grehan's well-timed pass, after midfielder Stephen Lohan had broken through the centre, found Hanley with time to shot past a stranded Gareth Phelan.
As the rain spat down, Hanley, the effective substitute John Tiernan (0-02) and Gary Cox all flashed over points in the space of three minutes as Carr's charges went 1-08 to 0-05 in front with 12 minutes remaining. Within seconds McKeon had walked for striking Cox in a straight red incident. Dolan added a late point to stretch Roscommon's advantage and flamboyant goalkeeper Curran palmed away Foley's spot kick.
Afterwards, Roscommon boss Tommy Carr said, "I suppose the over riding emotion is of relief. After four and a half games, we've come the fortuitous route you could say. I mean ten years ago, four games would have won you an All-Ireland title.
"It was a tense, tight game. It wasn't pretty, it was lacking fluency but we're through and we'll take this in for a day or two."
Speaking of Hanley's goal, the former Dublin skipper added, "John hasn't been involved with us for the past month or so due to exams but having won a Connacht title himself, he brought great toughness and experience to the side. The goal was a testament to that."
ROSCOMMON: J Hanley 1-01, F Dolan 0-03 (2f, 1 '45), G Cox, J Tiernan 0-02 each, J Dunning 0-01.
LEITRIM: M Foley 0-02 (1f), J Goldrick, J Guckian, F McBrien 0-01 each.
Filed by Mark O'Neill-Cummins