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Smith brothers lead Roscommon to Division 2 crown once again as Cavan dramatically relegated

Donie and Enda Smith combined for 1-7 as the Rossies sealed their return to the top flight.

Cavan 0-13

Roscommon 1-12

enda-smith-lifts-the-trophy Enda Smith lifting the Division 2 crown in Kingspan Breffni Park. Source: Tommy Grealy/INPHO

ROSCOMMON’S SMITH BROTHERS, Donie and Enda, combined to lead the county to the Division 2 league title for the third time in six seasons — and more importantly in their eyes, back to top-tier football.

A stunning 0-7 haul from man-of-the-match Donie and a second-half goal from captain Enda ultimately saw Anthony Cunningham’s side past rivals Cavan — who were in turn, relegated to Division 3 after contesting in Division 1 last year — at Kingspan Breffni Park.

Roscommon’s crazy league record:
2014 – Div 3 champs
2015 – Div 2 champs
2016 – Div 1 semi-finals
2017 – Div 1 relegation
2018 – Div 2 champs
2019 – Div 1 relegation
2020 – Div 2 champs

Today’s drama across the second-tier summed up its tight nature: the Breffni and Clare were both chasing promotion, but the former ended up relegated because of their head-to-head record. The Banner beat Cavan by two points earlier this year.

Roscommon’s two-point win this afternoon comes after a turbulent few days, as Covid-19 wreaked havoc with their preparations after their big win over Armagh last weekend. Cunningham was absent on the line, while they were also without one of their key forwards in Kerry native Conor Cox.

Donie Smith, however, returned to the starting team and was a handful for Cavan from the get-go, linking up brilliantly with Enda, the Rossies’ penalty hero last time out, and combining with the Murtagh brothers inside.

On the other hand, Cavan were boosted by the return of Killian Clarke, who stepped away earlier this year but started in Mickey Graham’s defence. Crosserlough star James Smith was also a welcome return to the hosts’ starting team after missing last week’s defeat to Kildare, while influential midfielder Gearoid McKiernan lined out for his 100th appearance.

Ultimately, the more clinical side won this feisty contest, in which plenty of yellow cards were dished out. Cavan were wasteful and hit 14 wides compared to Roscommon’s five, as strong wind played a huge factor throughout.

Donie Smith used it well to clock the first score of the game, before Martin Reilly and Ciaran Murtagh traded scores at either end. 0-3 to 0-3 by the first water break just after a massive effort from Cavan youngster Cormac O’Reilly, Roscommon got on top from there.

ciaran-brady-with-donie-smith Donie Smith facing Ciaran Brady. Source: Tommy Grealy/INPHO

Smith’s first-half tally was 0-5, though he really should have added a goal on 27 minutes. Cavan goalkeeper and captain Raymond Galligan — who had a great game — denied the Boyle man, who picked himself up with a nicely-fisted point in the next attack.

He was the Rossies’ main scorer throughout, but Finbar Cregg also got on the sheet, while scores from O’Reilly and Chris Reilly left three in it at half time. Mickey Graham’s side had a great chance just before the short whistle, one of many chances they will rue as they trailed 0-7 to 0-4.

Roscommon continued to dominate after the break, however, Ciaran Murtagh getting in on the scoring act before McKiernan struck back at the other end. The former added another from placed ball and another from Cathal Cregg had the visitors in good stead, before first-half substitute Oisin Pierson (free) and Luke Fortune brought the deficit back to three.

In the 46th minute, Enda Smith made no mistake in palming home when given the chance after a brilliant attacking move that started with ‘keeper Colm Lavin, the scoreline reading 1-10 to 0-7 at that point.

As Cavan chased the game in a much more open second half, Ciaran Brady’s immediate response came as their only answer in a scoreless period — and just before the water break, Roscommon nearly killed the game. Donie Smith and Ciaran Murtagh almost linked up seamlessly with the goal on, but Padraig Faulkner’s interception was vital.

The wides kept coming for Cavan, meanwhile, before they produced a bright spell with the game far from dead yet. Brady stood up with a second huge point, while another from Oisin Kiernan brought it back to a three point game.

Around the hour-mark, Smith produced his best score of the day from a tight angle on the right of the pitch’s town-end after coming ’round the back door to combine with Murtagh again. 

While Galligan nailed a free just after, Cavan missed a golden goal chance in the 65th minute. After Gerard Smith’s effort at a point ricocheted off the upper post, substitute Stephen Smith was first to pounce, but his shot dragged across the face of the goal.

Three points in it at the time, Roscommon endured another scare just after as Lavin soloed the ball past the ’13 and was almost dispossessed. Cavan players smothered the shot-stopper, he coughed up a free and Pierson’s shot left two between the sides.

gearoid-mckiernan-with-tadgh-orourke Cavan's Gearoid McKiernan with Tadgh O'Rourke of Roscommon. Source: Tommy Grealy/INPHO

Smith was there once again to fire over another beauty just as his man-of-the-match award was announced on TG4, and Roscommon looked like they would hold on. While Galligan was called to action once more and he duly obliged with a top-drawer save to deny Sean Mullooly, Cavan had more chances at the other end in injury time but missed them. 

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A nice score from James Smith was the last of the game after a good individual performance from the youngster, but it will come as absolutely no consolation as Cavan face into Division 3 football next year.

Scorers for Cavan: Cormac O’Reilly, Ciaran Brady, Oisin Pierson (all 0-2, Pierson 2f), Chris Conroy, Martin Reilly, Luke Fortune, Oisin Kiernan, Raymond Galligan, Gearoid McKiernan, James Smith (all 0-1, Galligan 1f)

Scorers for Roscommon: Donie Smith (0-7,  3f, ’45), Enda Smith (1-0), Ciaran Murtagh (0-2, 1f), Diarmuid Murtagh, Fintan Cregg, Cathal Cregg (all 0-1).

Cavan

1. Raymond Galligan

2. Jason McLoughlin
3. Killian Brady
4. Killian Clarke

5. Gerard Smith
6. Chris Conroy
7. Ciaran Brady

8. Gearoid McKiernan
9. Padraig Faulkner

10. Oisin Kiernan
11. Martin Reilly
17. Cormac Reilly

18. James Smith
14. Conor Madden
19. Niall Murray

Subs

Oisin Pierson for Niall Murray (27)
Luke Fortune for Killian Brady (HT)
Stephen Smith for Chris Conroy (41)
Thomas Galligan for Conor Madden (52)
Oisin Brady for Cormac O’Reilly (61)

Roscommon 

1. Colm Lavin 

2. Fergal Lennon 
3. Sean Mullooly
4. David Neary

5. Padraig Scott
6. Cathal Cregg
7. Conor Devaney

8. Enda Smith – captain
9. Tadhg O’Rourke

10. Niall Kilroy
11. Cian McKeon 
12. Finbar Cregg

13. Donie Smith
14. Diarmuid Murtagh
15. Ciaran Murtagh

Subs

Hubert Darcey for Finbar Cregg (49)
Ultan Harney for Cian McKeon (52)
Henry Walsh for Conor Devaney (58)
Andrew Glennon for Diramuid Murtagh (61)
Jack Casey for Ciaran Cregg (68).

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About the author:

Emma Duffy

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