Cunningham hails supersub Murtagh as Rossies rock Galway
Allianz Football League Division Two final: Roscommon 1-20 Galway 0-22
ROSCOMMON manager Anthony Cunningham hailed the impact of super sub Diarmuid Murtagh who burst through to blast to the net in stoppage time and clinch the Allianz League Division Two crown at Croke Park.
It’s the fourth time since 2015 that Roscommon have claimed the Division Two crown and they will now head into the championship as the only team in the country to go through the league unbeaten.
Murtagh struck in the first of six minute of added time when he burst through from the left and blasted to the right corner of the net to put them three ahead and they then withstood a late Galway rally.
“It was a tremendous goal. Diarmuid has that in his locker. He had a great run with his club and wasn’t back with us for the first half of the league. But his goal, he took it on, he steadied and we went again and it was a rocket, a great shot and that’s what won it for us. It see-sawed, we were on the ropes there with about ten minutes to go. Galway fought back as the Tribesmen tend to do.
“We were also anxious to produce a performance in Croke Park because the last couple of times it didn’t work out, so it’s great to do that but it could have gone either way in a great battle with Galway,” said Cunningham.
The sides were level six times in the opening half and went in deadlocked at 0-09 apiece after an entertaining opening half.
The star of the show was Galway midfielder Paul Conroy, who rolled back the years with an awesome performance which saw him kick five points from play in the opening half 15 years after he captained them to All-Ireland minor glory at the same venue.
He missed last weekend’s clash in Hyde Park through suspension when his replacement Niall Daly crowned his first start with five points from play.
It took Conroy half that time to match that haul and like Daly last week, kicked points off both feet, from his midfield berth.
Galway, having made five changes from the side which went down by 1-20 to 1-15 to Roscommon last but continuing with Shane Walsh on the bench, led by 0-03 to 0-01 after six minutes after Conroy landed his opening two points following an earlier exchange from placed balls by Conor Cox of Roscommon and Rob Finnerty.
Roscommon’s opening five points came from frees and a mark and it was the 26th minute before they landed one from play when Niall Daly — who uniquely ended up marking his namesake Niall Daly of Galway — put Cian McKeon through for a good score and Ciarain Murtagh landed one directly afterwards to lead by 0-07 to 0-05.
Both sides had earlier squandered goal chances with Conor Flaherty saving well from Roscommon’s Ultan Harney while at the other end John Daly put Dessie Conneely through but he blasted off the crossbar.
Points from Seán Kelly and Damien Comer tied the sides four minutes from the break before Cox and Conroy exchanged points.
Eddie Nolan, having earlier landed a 45, converted a free from a similar distance but they went in level when Conroy ended a long passing movement by floating the ball over the bar with his left foot.
The sides swapped points in just over a minute after the restart, with Comer slotting one after a pass from John Daly and then at the other end Galway goalkeeper Flaherty did well to tip an effort from McKeon over the bar.
Roscommon took over and landed the next three points, two of which came from Donie Smith, the second of them a great goal chance but the ball rose over the bar.
His brother Enda then should have found the net but Galway goalkeeper Flaherty, who later went off injured, saved superbly before the Tribesmen went down the field and Finnian Ó Laoí reduced the margin to 0-13 to 0-11 after 46 minutes.
Two efforts from Cox and one apiece from Donie Smith and Ciarain Murtagh, with Galway’s only response coming from Conroy with his sixth point, saw Roscommon lead by 0-17 to 0-12 after 54 minutes.
But Galway hit back and struck for six points in eight blistering minutes after Shane Walsh came to lead by one after 64 minutes before Diarmuid Murtagh levelled the sides for the ninth time just seconds after coming on. And then when his brother Ciarain and Finnerty exchanged points, he burst through for the score of the game when he blasted to the net.
Matthew Tierney hit back with two points for Galway but Keith Doyle found the range in between as Roscommon held on to win the Division Two crown.
Roscommon: C Lavin; D Murray, B Stack, E McCormack; N Kilroy, N Daly, R Daly; U Harney, E Nolan (0-2, 0-1 free, 0-1 45); C Murtagh (0-4, 0-1 free), E Smith, C Heneghan; C McKeon (0-2), D Smith (0-5, 0-2 frees), C Cox (0-5, 0-4 frees).
Substitutes: K Doyle (0-1) for McKeon (61), D Murtagh (1-1) for Cox (64), A Glennon for D Smith (69).
Galway: C Flaherty; J Glynn, K Molloy, L Silke; F Ó Laoí (0-1), J Daly, S Fitzgerald; S Kelly, P Conroy (0-6); M Tierney (0-2), N Daly, J Heaney (0-1); R Finnerty (0-3, 0-1 mark, 0-1 free), D Comer (0-4), D Conneely (0-3, 0-2 frees). Substitutes: S Walsh (0-1) for Glynn (48), J McGrath for J Daly (48), C Gleeson for Flaherty (53), J McLoughlin for N Daly (56), T Gill for Ó Laoí (65), P Kelly (0-01) for Finnerty (70)
Referee: Niall Cullen (Fermanagh).