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Goal rush as star man Smith leads Roscommon past Armagh and closer to Division 1 football

Elsewhere, John Heslin starred for Westmeath, Wickow hit 7-11 and Niall Carew’s Carlow reign started on a high.

enda-smith-and-ciaran-lennon-celebrate Enda Smith and Ciaran Lennon celebrate after the game. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

ROSCOMMON TOOK A huge step towards Division 1 football in 2021 after a brilliant, hard-fought win on the road against Armagh this evening.

Two penalties courtesy of captain and man-of-the-match Enda Smith and another second-half goal from Conor Daly ultimately sealed a four-point win for the Rossies, who now sit top of the Division 2 table.

Tonight’s showdown in the Athletic Grounds — played behind closed doors, with ‘virtual’ fans watching on — was a crucial, top-of-the-table clash, and one in which Armagh started the brightest.

self-portraits-from-over-3000-primary-school-children-across-armagh-in-the-stands Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Rian O’Neill — who was sent off at the death — opened the scoring, and excelled before the posts throughout, finishing with 0-6 (0-2 from open play). Callum Cumiskey was next to get in on the act with a well-taken mark and Armagh certainly controlled proceedings early on as Roscommon struggled to break them down.

The visitors’ first score finally came in the 14th minute through Cian McKeon, but Armagh continued to dominate through the other of the star O’Neill brothers, Oisin, and rising star Conor Turbitt.

McKeon added his, and Roscommon’s, second, in the 28th minute from a free, and from there, the game started to heat up nicely. Conor Cox shook off early cobwebs to get on the scoreboard from placed ball after a couple of early misses, and the Kerry native won a penalty soon after.

Cox went down after a challenge from Ryan Kennedy, who was on a yellow card at the time, and Smith stepped up to coolly slot home in 34th minute to make it 1-3 to 0-5.

But Armagh responded brilliantly with three quick-fire points before the break; a stunning Rian O’Neill effort sandwiched between two from Rory Grugan, leaving the scoreline at 0-8 to 1-3 as the whistle sounded.

While Kieran McGeeney’s side picked up where they left off in the second half with early scores from Jamie Clarke and Rian O’Neill, the tables turned from there.

Roscommon’s direct-running efforts soon paid dividends — Smith had opened Armagh up a few times but was well marshalled by Stefan Forker — and their attack well and truly kicked into gear.

A fingertip save from goalkeeper Blaine Hughes combined with the crossbar denied Sean Mullooly a certain goal, but Roscommon got great joy from the rebound. James Morgan saw yellow for a reckless challenge on Niall Kilroy, and referee David Gough pointed to the penalty spot once again. Smith went the other way this time, placing it low and hard to make it 0-10 to 2-3 with 43 minutes on the clock.

Having scored just one point from play at that point, Anthony Cunningham’s side bagged a third goal just seconds later as Daly powered home after some brilliant work from Cox.

While before this goal rush Armagh were comfortably the better side, Roscommon drove on from there with McKeon, Cox and Ciaran Lennon all splitting the posts.

Rian O’Neill kept Armagh in touch, while Clarke popped up with an inspiring score in the 64th minute to narrow the gap to three — 0-13 to 3-7. But Ronan Daly, brother of Conor, kept the Roscommon momentum going, as a dramatic finish transpired.

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In injury time, an Armagh effort was saved on the line and O’Neill was sent off for a late challenge on Brian Stack, while Stack himself saw black in a separate incident. But there was still time for a few more scores: a free and a beautiful score from play from Cox — both sandwiching another Oisin O’Neill free — left it 3-10 to 0-14 as an entertaining encounter came to a close.

The Rossies — who now sit two points clear — play Cavan next week, with the Breffni facing Kildare tomorrow. Armagh travel to Clare next time out.

conor-cox Conor Cox on the ball. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Earlier this afternoon in Division 2, Westmeath also made a winning return to action, recording an eight-point win over Laois at TEG Cusack Park in Mullingar.

Victory sent Jack Cooney’s Midlanders to the top of the table at the time alongside Armagh and Roscommon, before the latter took first place after their win this evening.

Star man John Heslin did his talking on the pitch after raising doubts about the inter-county return on social media this week; the St Loman’s ace leading from the front as Westmeath hit the opening seven points.

0-12 to 0-5 up by the break, Luke Loughlin, Loran Dolan and Jamie Ganoud combined to score the games only goal in the 65th minute, the latter having the last say in an excellent team move.

Heslin finished with 0-9 for the winners, with Gary Walsh amongst Laois’ top scorers. 

And in Division 4 earlier, Wicklow scored an eye-catching 7-11 as they romped to a huge 25-point win over Antrim at Aughrim.

Davy Burke’s side were relentless as they kept their promotion bid alive ahead of next weekend’s must-win showdown with neighbours Wexford.

Seanie Furlong finished with 2-2 to his name, with Paddy O’Toole, Conor Byrne, Eoin Darcy, Patrick Burke and Gearoid Murphy also chipping in with goals as Wicklow controlled proceedings from start to finish.

kevin-oboyle-and-seanie-furlong

Today’s comes as their fourth win from six, and heaps misery on the Saffron after they beat league leaders Limerick last time out. 

While Limerick remain top of the table before they face Wexford tomorrow, second-placed Wicklow now join them on eight points. Antrim are third on seven.

Further down the Division 4 table, Niall Carew’s first game in charge of Carlow ended in a late, late two-point win over Sligo. Two points right at the death — and deep into injury time — from Paul Broderick and Darragh Murphy brought the curtain down on a thrilling finale.

The hosts led by two going into the added minutes at Netwatch Cullen Park, but a pair of Liam Gaughan frees brought the Yeats county back level.

Ross Dunphy and substitute Conor Crowley scored the goals for Carlow, while Red Óg Murphy and Mikey Gordon bagged the visitors’ majors.

Results

  • Division 2FL: Armagh 0-15 Roscommon 3-10
  • Division 2FL: Westmeath 1-18 Laois 0-13
  • Division 4FL: Wicklow 7-11 Antrim 0-7
  • Division 4FL: Carlow 2-17 Sligo 2-15.

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Emma Duffy

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