Kevin O’Brien reports from Dr Hyde Park, Roscommon
GALWAY LIFTED THEIR second Connacht crown in three seasons with a four-point win in a chess match with Roscommon.
He had a quiet final by his own lofty standards but captain Damien Comer stood up when it mattered and kicked two late points to lead his side to victory.
Roscommon chased a goal at the far end in stoppage-time but the Tribesmen counter-attacked and late points from the excellent Ian Burke and sub Adrian Varley sealed the win.
Shane Walsh enjoyed one of his finest games in the maroon jersey, scoring eight points including five vital frees on a day when Barry McHugh’s radar was off.
Galway became the first side to make the Super 8s and although Kevin Walsh’s side were nowhere near their best, they dug out the win out when it mattered against the wind in the second-half.
Roscommon looked in control at the break, leading a tactical battle by 1-5 to 0-5 after playing against the breeze, but they failed to score from play in the second-half.
Kevin McStay’s side had a good share of chances but shot seven wides and dropped two short in the latter period. Niall Kilroy operated as a sweeper to good effect for the Rossies but once Galway started running at the defence they began to get more joy.
The hosts were dominating midfield until Cathal Compton was forced off with an injury in the 30th minute and Galway took control in that sector for the remainder of the game with Thomas Flynn influential.
Despite playing against the breeze, Roscommon owned the ball in the opening half and were smart enough not to carry the ball into contact in Galway’s defensive web.
McStay’s outfit were 0-4 to 0-1 in front after a tight and cagey first 16 minutes, with Galway particularly wasteful at the far end.
After 22 minutes, Galway had 13 men back but Ciarain Murtagh sensed an opening and sped past Barry McHugh down the end line. He jinked inside and placed the ball low and hard past Ruairi Lavelle.
Galway’s best two players in the first period, Ian Burke and Shane Walsh, kicked a brace each as they went in 1-5 to 0-5 behind at the interval.
Roscommon started the second-half with one score from seven shots at goal, hitting five wides and dropping one short. Galway were far more clinical at the far end and Walsh clipped over three points (one free) to leave them a point behind.
Then sub Sean Armstrong intercepted a short Colm Lavin kick-out and David Murray was forced to drag down the Salthill native. Murray was black-carded and Walsh levelled it up with his eighth score of the game.
Roscommon had a hint of a goal chance after a Cathal Cregg interception started a move that saw Donie Smith pick out Diarmuid Murtagh in front of goal, but the latter was bottled up by the Tribe defence. Galway countered and Burke was fouled, which handed Walsh another pointed free.
Moments later Kelly tagged on their sixth straight score to leave Galway 0-11 to 1-6 in front. The Rossies were awarded when Diarmuid Murtagh was hauled down by Thomas Flynn as he raced through on goal and Conor Devaney rattled the spot kick into the top corner.
Armstrong tied the game up from the next Galway attack and then Comer fired over a quick-fire brace to leave them on the cusp. With Roscommon chasing the goal, Varley and Burke lobbed over a point each to seal the win.
Scorers for Galway: Shane Walsh 0-8 (0-5f), Ian Burke 0-3, Damien Comer 0-2, Adrian Varley, Sean Kelly and Sean Armstrong 0-1 each.
Scorers for Roscommon: Diarmuid Murtagh 0-5 (0-2f), Conor Devaney 1-0 (1-0 pen), Ciarain Murtagh 1-0, Donie Smith 0-1.
1. Colm Lavin (Éire Óg)
3. Peter Domican (St Brigid’s)
4. Niall McInerney (St Brigid’s)
2. David Murray (Padraig Pearses)
5. John McManus (Roscommon Gaels)
6. Fintan Cregg (Elphin)
12. Conor Devaney (Kilbride – captain)
8. Cathal Compton (Strokestown)
9. Tadgh O Rourke (Tulsk)
11. Enda Smith (Boyle)
15. Niall Kilroy (Fuerty)
10. Ciarain Murtagh (St Faithleach’s)
7. Brian Stack (St Brigid’s)
13. Donie Smith (Boyle)
14. Diarmuid Murtagh (St Faithleach’s)
26. Ultan Harney (Clann na nGael) for Compton (30)
17. Cathal Cregg (Western Gaels) for Stack (55)
20. Finbar Cregg (Western Gaels) for Ciaran Murtagh (60)
18. Conor Daly (Padraig Pearses) for O’Rourke (61)
23. Ronan Stack (St Brigid’s) for Kilroy (71)
1. Ruairí Lavelle (Salthill/Knocknacarra)
2. Declan Kyne (Clonbur)
4. David Wynne (Moycullen)
3. Seán Andy Ó Ceallaigh (Naomh Ánna, Leitir Mór)
5. Cathal Sweeney (Killanin)
6. Gareth Bradshaw (Moycullen)
12. Seán Kelly (Moycullen)
8. Paul Conroy (St James)
9. Thomas Flynn (Athenry)
10. Eamonn Brannigan (St Michael’s)
11. Barry McHugh (Mountbellew/Moylough)
7. Johnny Heaney (Killanin)
15. Shane Walsh (Kilkerrin/Clonberne)
13. Ian Burke (Corofin)
14. Damien Comer (Annaghdown – captain)
22. Ciaran Duggan (Annaghdown) for Conroy (45)
17. Sean Armstrong (Salthill Knocknacarra) for McHugh (49)
23. Eoghan Kerin (Annaghdown) for Wynne (50)
19. Peter Cooke (Moycullen) for Heaney (65)
26. Adrian Varley (Cortoon Shamrocks) for Brannigan (69)
24. Gary O’Donnell (Tuam Stars) for O’Ceallaigh (71)
Referee: David Coldrick (Meath)
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