Roscommon put it up to Dublin but run out of gas in the end

Jim Gavin’s side were made to work hard for this victory which came in the heavy rain

Dublin’s Con O’Callaghan with Ronan Daly of Roscommon during the Allianz Football League Division One clash in Roscommon. Photo: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Dublin’s Con O’Callaghan with Ronan Daly of Roscommon during the Allianz Football League Division One clash in Roscommon. Photo: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

 

Roscommon 1-12 Dublin 2-14

The sky blue carnival swept through Roscommon town and left with the expected result. But the final score didn’t quite tell the full tale. In Molloy’s bakery at lunch-time, the proprietor said that the Dubs had been brilliant for the town: the hotels full; the pubs busy on the Saturday night. Livelier than the usual fare on a wet March weekend.

A chorus of visiting Dubs stood behind the town goal and made their voices heard towards the tail-end of an electric first half, when the home team honoured the news of the death of 98-year-old Liam Gilmartin, midfielder and the last remaining member of the Primrose County’s revered 1943/44 All-Ireland winning side, by playing some spellbinding football. 1-9 apiece at the break and all of Roscommon’s score from play: this was a game, all right. Opposition scouts scattered throughout the ground worked the biros hard as Roscommon made the history chasers look vulnerable at times.

But only at times. The air was ripe with insurrection when Conor Cox, the Listowel Emmets man, pushed Roscommon into two points clear two minutes after half time. David Murray, busy corner back had shown the way after the restart, stealing forward for a terrific score. Up 1-11 to 1-9, the rain falling steadily, the home faithful roused: this had the stuff of a test.

Instead, Roscommon’s scoring just stopped for the next 32 minutes. Blue shirts pressed deeper and deeper into the Roscommon half of the field and a typical Con O’Callaghan incision led to the football squirting loose for Dean Rock to scuff a goal. It won’t feature in the Ballymun man’s personal highlight reel but it ended the anarchy, Colm Lavin had an eight for nine success rate on his kick outs in the first half. But now, with Dublin’s pressure full on, Roscommon coughed the ball up on five successive restarts as Dublin took care of the bread and butter stuff – a couple of frees and a 50 from Rock. The All-Ireland champions simply shut up shop.

“We were well worth our position at half time but we would be disappointed with the second half,” acknowledged Anthony Cunningham afterwards.

“We didn’t get to the levels wanted to and Dublin are Dublin. They are an outstanding team with brilliant footballers and play to a brilliant system. That is the level we want to get to. Disappointed with the result but loads to work on.”

Roscommon could have resigned themselves to the inevitable much earlier than they did. They found themselves trailing by 1-05 to 0-3 after 18 minutes without doing anything much wrong. At the moment, the mood in Hyde Park was that of a cold living room, a fire that wouldn’t catch and just one match left in the box.

Cormac Costello clashes with David Murray. Photo: Tommy Dickson/Inpho
Cormac Costello clashes with David Murray. Photo: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

The Rossies had been tenacious, composed on their kick outs and had kicked three fine points from play. But Dublin thrive in those lull moments when minds wander. Their first goal came from a Cormac Costello mark and a quick long ball fired into Rock, who had ghosted behind Conor Daly. The yellow shirts converged and seemed to have the situation under control when the ball squirted loose and O’Callaghan walloped it home first time. Ten minutes later, Roscommon’s defence debated a free with referee Padraig O’Sullivan and failed to pay heed to Cian O’Connor’s stealth run in front of the posts: he received the ball and kicked the simplest of points. It was the kind of score at which Dublin excel.

It was one of those games in which the collective shone for Dublin rather than any individual stardust for the crowd to enjoy. Jim Gavin changed things up before throw-in, restoring Stephen Cluxton to goal. “Yeah, just late in the week. He’s just back with us now: this will be the third week he is back. Evan has done really well in the games he has played.”

Roscommon’s 30th minute goal came from a skied ball by Donie Smith which had the effect of catching Dublin’s defenders in the rare sin of ball-watching: Cathal Cregg was on hand to benefit and smash it home. That passage of play and two instances late in the match, when Ciaran Lennon managed to turn Jonny Cooper and threaten Cluxton’s goal and a sweeping move which resulted in a point for Aonghus Lyons, gave a glimpse into the potential for teams who can by-pass Dublin’s relentless ball-oriented pressure.

But both of those chinks of opportunity materialised when the result was beyond Roscommon’s grasp. The home crowd couldn’t have asked for more from their team here: the players ran themselves into the ground, with rangy athletes like Niall Kilroy and Enda Smith forced to leave the arena before the hour mark, spent. Roscommon’s huge work rate took a toll eventually: in the final 10 minutes, Dublin found gaps opening up and could move the ball forward at their leisure. Roscommon just ran out of gas.

ROSCOMMON: 1 C Lavin, 2 D Murray (0-1), 3 C Daly, 4 G Patterson; 5 C Devaney, 6 N Daly, 7 R Daly (0-1); 8 T O’Rourke, 9 S Killoran; 10 N Kilroy (0-1). 11 D Smith (0-1), 12 E Smith (0-1); 13 C Lennon (0-1 mark), 14 C Cox (0-4, 1 free), 15 C Cregg (1-1).

Subs: 25 C Compton for 10 N Kilroy (52 mins), 19 S Mullooly for E Smith (52 mins), 23 A Lyons (0-1) for 15 C Cregg (56 mins), 17 C Hussey for 9 S Killoran (59 mins), 22 H Darcy for 11 D Smith (63 mins).

DUBLIN: 16 S Cluxton, 24 A McGowan, 2 J Cooper, 3 D Byrne; 7 J McCaffrey, 6 C O’Sullivan, 26 C O’Connor (0-1); 8 B Fenton, 9 D Gavin (0-1); 12 N Scully (0-2), 10 C O’Callaghan (1-1), 17 C Basquel (0-1); 13 C Costello, 11 D Rock (1-6 frees, 5 frees, 50), 15 P Andrews (0-2).

Subs: 23 R McDaid for 7 J McCaffrey (10 mins inj), 22 P Mannion for 13 C Costello (46 mins), 5 B Howard for 24 A McGowan (52 mins), 20 P Flynn for 17 C Basquel (52 mins), 21 MD Macauley for 8 B Fenton (71 mins).

Referee: P O’Sullivan (Kerry).

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