Roscommon and Derry both still alive after wild draw

Derry missed the chance to score the winner at the very end as 17 cards shown by referee

Roscommon 0-12 Derry 0-12

This turned out to be a wild one. The sort of game where nobody goes home happy and nobody is sure if they’ve learned anything at all. Roscommon were six points up in the 42nd minute and didn’t score again until deep into injury-time.

Derry made heavy weather of their comeback despite having a strong wind behind them and still missed the chance to score the winner at the end. Both sides could have knocked the other out of the promotion race. Both are still alive.

It was the sort of niggly, crotchety league game that became impossible to referee. Sean Lonergan from Tipperary made a bad mistake early in the second half when he didn’t give Roscommon substitute Cathal Heneghan the advantage when he was through on goal. From that point onwards, he could do nothing right by the rowdy and vocal home support. Every Rossie in the ground left the Hyde full sure they’d been done.

The truth, as ever, is somewhere in the middle. It was definitely a game that got away from the referee at times but the teams didn’t help him whatsoever. The final tally ended up being 14 yellow cards (including one for Rory Gallagher on the Derry sideline), two blacks and a red - but it was that final one that arguably had the greatest impact.

Derry full-forward and free-taker Shane McGuigan had a fine game, a running battle with Rossie full back Brian Stack. As injury-time counted down and Derry poured forward looking for a winner, Stack wrestled McGuigan to the ground around midfield. As the play went on without them, Derry won a free on the Roscommon 45 - to howls of protest from the bleachers.

But before it could be taken, he came back to deal with Stack and McGuigan. A well-deserved black for Stack, an unfathomable yellow for McGuigan, who had clearly been the injured party. It meant that the Derry sharp-shooter wasn’t available to take the last kick of the game, an eminently scoreable free from the centre of the pitch. Emmett Bradley tried his luck but sprayed it wide. Draw game. Everybody cranky.

Experience

“It was unbelievably stop-start,” said Gallagher afterwards. “When they got their black card, they were able to slow everything down. That’s experience on their part. I thought they were good at that. But we had all the momentum and at the end and it’s unfortunate that Shane, our free-taker, got pulled down and the referee gave two yellow cards. Sometimes that happens, there’s nothing you can do.”

All in all, it’s a better result for Derry. Both sides still have to play Galway but Roscommon likely have to beat them now whereas Derry can afford a draw. The visitors started brightest here, with McGuigan slotting two early points on the loop. But it got scratchy and bitty after that, with a crosswind making Dr Hyde Park as difficult a place to score as ever.

Roscommon went on 0-8 to 0-4 ahead at the break, thanks to some smart score-taking from Donie Smith and a couple of brilliant break-out points from Enda Smith and Niall Daly. Roscommon goalie Colm Lavin did well to block a Paul Cassidy effort just before half-time when a lesser keeper would have bought his shimmy and left himself open.

It felt like a four-point wind so when the Rossies came out and kicked the first two points after the restart, it looked a decisive move. Heneghan came off the bench to slot a gorgeous effort with his left foot and that was followed by an almost identical score by Cian McKeon. With 37 minutes gone, it stood at Roscommon 0-10 Derry 0-4.

That was what so enraged the crowd about Lonergan’s decision to pull Heneghan back when straight through on Odhran Lynch in the Derry goal. McGuigan had pulled a point back but a goal then would have sent the Rossies eight points clear with 25 minutes to go. As it was, they had to settle for Conor Cox’s tap-over free.

Anthony Cunningham didn't speak to the press afterwards, as part of the GPA protest. We can guess what his view on it would have been.

Derry itched and scratched their way back. McGuigan was steady on his frees, Cassidy wormed his way in for a fist-over point and Brendan Rogers sallied forward for the score of the day. At least it was, until Roscommon substitute Keith Doyle landed a monumental one into the wind at the other end.

All the while, the drip-drip of cards and fouls and frees was rising tempers all over the place. In the end, the draw took some of the heat out of it all. No more and no less than anyone deserved.

Derry: Odhran Lynch; Chrissy McKaigue, Brendan Rogers (0-1), Conor McCluskey; Ethan Doherty, Padraig McGrogan (0-1), Conor Doherty; Conor Glass, Emmett Bradley; Paul Cassidy (0-1), Oisin McWilliams, Gareth McKinless; Benny Heron (0-1), Shane McGuigan (0-8, 0-5 frees), Niall Loughlin. Subs: Ciaran McFaul for C Doherty (44 mins), Niall Toner for Heron (46 mins), Lachlan Murray for Loughlin (50 mins), Ben McCarron for McWilliams (70 mins).

Roscommon: Colm Lavin; David Murray, Brian Stack, Eoin McCormack; Richard Hughes, Niall Daly (0-1), Ronan Daly; Ultan Harney, Eddie Nolan (0-1); Ciarán Murtagh, Enda Smith (0-1), Niall Kilroy; Cian McKeon (0-1), Donie Smith (0-4, 0-2 frees), Conor Cox (0-2, 0-1 free). Subs: Cathal Henaghan (0-1) for C Murtagh (half-time), D Murtagh for Kilroy (53 mins), Keith Doyle (0-1) for McKeon (59 mins), Andrew Glennon for Cox (67 mins), Ciaran Sugrue for D Smith (69 mins).

Referee: Sean Lonergan (Tipperary)

Malachy Clerkin

Malachy Clerkin

Malachy Clerkin is a sports writer with The Irish Times

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