Roscommon play it fast and loose to throw off Cavan noose

Connacht side win eight-goal Division Two thriller as Cavan lose to team again

Roscommon 4-16 Cavan 4-12

Roscommon landed more silverware at HQ as they held off Cavan once more in a seesaw Division Two final.

In a free-wheeling, old school decider, the winners recovered from the concession of three first-half goals to remarkably bag four of their own after the break, with manager Kevin McStay admitting that they were aware there was a risk of getting caught at the back.

“What had they, 3-2 at half-time? Five scores, one of them is a free so they’d only got one point from play and we’d done all the scoring and here we are chasing the game,” said McStay. “The goals were the difference. It was a risk and we discussed it, that we could get caught for a goal early on.


“We just wanted to play loose today and bring the game to Cavan and just have a cut, we didn’t want to get too tactical about it. That was a mistake and thankfully we got ourselves out of it.”

“Having a cut” was doing a disservice to Roscommon, who played some excellent football at times, with their vaunted strike force adding a few more clips to their burgeoning highlights reel.

And they did it the hard way. A curious feature of this one-sided rivalry – Cavan have now beaten Roscommon just once in their last 10 meetings – is that the Ulster side have usually blown a handy lead at some stage.

They eased themselves into just that here when a superbly-taken goal from youngster Conor Bradley and a penalty from Martin Reilly helped them into a 2-1 to 0-1 advantage after eight minutes.

However, just as they did in their clash a fortnight ago, the Rossies went on to reel off eight unanswered points through man-of-the-match Conor Devaney, two from the razor sharp Donie Smith, Diarmuid Murtagh (three, two frees) and a Ciarán Murtagh free.

Cavan ended an 18-minute scoreless spell with their third goal when the excellent Dara McVeety side-footed home.

Again, though, Roscommon's response was excellent; Donie Smith threaded a right-footed point and added another from long range to make it 3-1 to 0-11. Tadhg O'Rourke and Niall Kilroy added further points as McStay's charges carried a 0-12 to 3-2 lead into half-time.

With a strong wind at their backs, Cavan had reasons to be cheerful, especially when go-to man McVeety curled in the opener 90 seconds after the restart.

By the 42nd minute, they were in front at 3-5 to 0-13 but that was as good as it got for them. Moments later, Niall Kilroy palmed in the Rossies' first major and when corner back David Murray cut inside and booted home another, they were five up.

The Breffni men were guilty of sloppy play in the final third. After Gearóid McKiernan was blocked down, Roscommon broke and impressive sub Enda Smith clipped over their next.

All over? Not quite. McVeety curled in superbly and then, Enda Flanagan sent a soccer-style half-volley to the roof of James Featherston's net and when Ciarán Brady came up from defence to make it a one-point game again with 18 minutes remaining, Cavan could sense a first national senior title since 1952 was within their grasp.

This was reinforced when Johnston split the posts from the wing but the tide turned when McVeety, out in front, pulled up injured, Roscommon broke and sub Cathal Cregg slid the ball under Raymond Galligan.

Seanie Johnston cut the gap to two but the Connacht side were ruthless and when Enda Smith played McInerney in brilliantly and Devaney banged in their fourth goal, that was that.

Cavan huffed and puffed thereafter but never looked like blowing Roscommon away. Galligan (45), Ian Kilbride, Johnston (free) and Cregg traded scores in junk time as the westerners eased home with McStay impressed by their attack.

“It was just the manner of their score taking was very good, a lot of unselfish play, the best man was getting it. I thought our finishing was way ahead of what it had been in the earlier rounds.

“We had threatened to score four or five goals all year but we kept missing them. Cathal Cregg made a big impact obviously and got to the tempo of the game fairly quickly, which was great, but the lads were passing the ball around very well up front.”

Cavan boss Mattie McGleenan, meanwhile, bemoaned the loss of McVeety at a crucial stage.

“Yes, I’m deeply disappointed that we didn’t get the cup because I felt with 10 minutes to go we were very much in the ascendancy and that was the stage that we have pushed on all through the league. Today we didn’t take our chances and we were punished,” he said.

“Dara was absolutely outstanding. He led the line. I can’t really fault the rest of the team, they turned in a serious shift today. Dara went off, I suppose we should have taken him off a couple of minutes earlier, the goal that they got came from Dara not winning a ball.

“They went up the football field and scored a goal, at that point it was a one-point game and it became a four-point game again. That left us a big task.”

ROSCOMMON: J Featherston; D Murray (1-0), P Domican, F Lennon; C Daly, U Harney, B Stack; T O'Rourke, C Compton; C Murtagh (0-1, free), N Kilroy (1-1), C Devaney (1-3); D Smith (0-4), C Lennon, D Murtagh (0-4, two frees).

Subs: N McInerney (0-1) for Daly (h/t), E Smith (0-1) for O'Rourke (47 mins), C Cregg (1-1) for C Lennon (51), O'Rourke for Compton (54, b/c), N Daly for Stack (61), I Kilbride (0-1) for F Lennon (67).

CAVAN: R Galligan (0-1, 45); J McLoughlin, P Faulkner, E Flanagan (1-0); M Reilly (1-0, pen), C Brady (0-1), O Kiernan; G McKiernan (0-2, frees), K Clarke; D McVeety (1-3), B Magee, C Mackey; C O'Reilly (0-1, free), A Cole, C Bradley (1-0).

Subs: N Murray for Magee (29 mins), N Clerkin for McLoughlin, S Johnston (0-4, two frees) for O'Reilly (both h/t), C Madden for Bradley, S Murray for Flanagan (both 51), C Moynagh for McVeety (63).

Referee: S Hurson (Tyrone).