Strong finish earns Roscommon a substantial reward
Enda Smith’s late second goal finally enough to break Armagh’s game challenge
Roscommon’s Sean McDermott, David Murray and Niall Daly tackle Armagh’s Aidan Forker and Stephen Sheridan at O’Moore Park. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho
Roscommon 2-22 Armagh 1-19
Roscommon’s engine-room roaming forward Cathal Cregg insists that it doesn’t get any bigger than reaching the Super 8s, following Saturday’s thrilling win over Armagh.
The Rossies will face four-in-a-row All-Ireland chasing Dublin, Ulster champions Donegal and Mickey Harte’s Tyrone in their side of the inaugural Super 8 competition.
Kevin McStay’s men were worthy winners and the Division Two league winners won’t look out of place at the top table of All-Ireland Championship.
“It’s a massive achievement for us to be playing in the Super 8,” said Cregg. “Whoever wins the next game [Tyrone], Dublin and Donegal. So, it doesn’t get any bigger than that.”
Played in O’Moore Park on a hot and stifling day, a brace of goals from Enda Smith, his second in injury-time, wrapped up victory for the Rossies and they were worthy winners in a magnificent contest.
Armagh had taken a three-point lead in the opening half with the brilliant Andrew Murnin and captain Rory Grugan spearheading the Orchard attack but Roscommon hit back with the lively Ciarán Murtagh, Cregg, Diarmuid Murtagh and that fine goal from Donie Smith, edging McStay’s men into 1-11 to 0-12 half-time lead.
Roscommon goalkeeper Colm Lavin pulled off a great save from Rory Grugan’s 44th minute penalty and it was a miss that proved costly for the Ulster men as Donie Smith quickly added a point, so instead of it being a one-point game, Roscommon lead by five points.
A disappointed Orchard manager Kieran McGeeney felt that his side paid the price for missed scoring opportunities.
“It is disappointing, because when the game was in the balance we fought really hard and played really well and got the ball into the danger zone, but then we had the penalty miss and missed frees and dropped balls into the keeper’s hands,” said McGeeney.
“Against these sort of teams you have to take those chances and Roscommon took those chances so they were the better team today.”
While not surprised with Armagh’s tenacity, Cregg was impressed with the resolve displayed by his team-mates.
“Armagh never gave up,” Cregg said. “It was the goal three or four minutes into injury-time that wrapped up the game. So, fair play to Armagh. It was a massive, massive game.
“Fair play to our lads. They got five or six points on the bounce when we were three points down. That was great to see that when the chips are down they went at it. And they did the same in the second half when Armagh got it back to one point.”
Mark Shields’s fine goal reduced Roscommon’s lead to two points and on 66 minutes Armagh substitute Gavin McParland closed the gap to a point.
But it was Roscommon who rampaged across the finish line with a flurry of 1-04, coming from captain Conor Devaney, Diarmuid Murtagh and substitute Cathal Compton to seal and impressive victory and announce their arrival to the Super 8.
ROSCOMMON: C Lavin; D Murray, N McInerney, S McDermott; J McManus, P Domican, C Devanney (0-1); N Kilroy, T O’Rourke; C Murtagh (0-6, 0-4 frees), C Cregg (0-3), E Smith (2-1); D Smith (0-3), U Harney, D Murtagh (0-6, 0-5 frees).
Subs: G Patterson for Domican (44) Finbar Cregg for C. Murtagh 56min C Compton (0-1) for D Smith (59), C Daly for McDermott (61’) Fintan Cregg (0-1) for Kilroy (65), I Kilbride for Daly (71).
ARMAGH: B Hughes; P Burns, C Mackin, G McCabe; M Shields (1-0), B Donaghy, A Forker (0-1); C Vernon, R Owens, R Grugan (0-5, 0-4 frees), J Hall (0-1), N Gimley (0-5, 0-3 frees, 0-1 45’) R McShane (0-1), A Murnin (0-4), S Sheridan (0-1).
Subs: J McElroy for McCabe (33) R McQuillan for Sheridan (42), N Rowland for Donaghy (47) G McParland (0-1) for Mackin (52) J Duffy for Hall (66), K Dyas for Murnin (66).
Referee: J McQuillan (Cavan).