Roscommon genuinely looked down and out at half-time on Sunday.
They traded scores early in the game but Galway were able to turn the screw in the final ten minutes of the first half to go in at the break 0-10 to 0-5 in front. The Tribesmen pressed high on the Rossies throughout the opening 35 minutes to great effect and you would have expected them to kick on after the restart with the wind at their backs.
However, Roscommon returned like a team reborn in the second period and deservedly woke up this morning as Connacht champions.
They had heroes all over the pitch. The three Daly brothers were rock solid at the back. Conor Cox kicked 0-5, Diarmuid Murtagh was a thorn in Galway’s side and captain, Enda Smith, ran himself into the ground for the Connacht cause.
To put their success down to one or two or maybe even three players would be wrong. Roscommon worked as a collective yesterday and reaped the benefits of it. When they came out for the second half and it was clear that whatever Anthony Cunningham said in the dressing room had resonated with them.
They started the second half five points down but by the 50th minute, they led by one. This fifteen-minute spell is our focus on this week’s edition of the Championship Deep-Dive.
The comeback began on the 38th minute with Conor Daly carrying the ball virtually unchecked from his own half into Galway territory before off-loading to Enda Smith.
The Roscommon captain plays the ball out to the wing before following his pass and collecting the return (a feature of his game all afternoon). From here Smith drives at the heart fo the Galway defence creating the space to off-load to Niall Kilroy who curls it over the bar.
The next score is the all-important goal beautifully finished by Diarmuid Murtagh after an excellent bit of build-up play.
A Darren O’Malley kick-out is broke by Galway but substitute Hubert Darcy finds himself gaining possession. Darcy plays a beautifully weighted kick-pass over the top to Cathal Cregg.
Cregg drives at the Galway defence, forcing Seán Andy Ó Ceallaigh to second guess whether to stick with his man or close down the space. Ó Ceallaigh’s indecision gives Murtagh the inch of space he needs for Cregg to pass him the ball before finishing with aplomb and breathing life into the Roscommon crowd.
— The GAA (@officialgaa) June 16, 2019
They say the most important scores in games are the ones scored after goals and this proved to be the case yesterday. Momentum has shifted following Murtagh’s goal but Galway still hold a slender lead.
That was until Conor Cox stepped up to kick a screamer of a score with his ‘weaker’ foot following some strong running yet again from Smith.
Roscommon then took the lead through Diarmuid Murtagh who pointed a close range free, however, the score was all about Enda Smith who showed true leadership when it really mattered again relentlessly running at the Galway defence and creating opportunities for his county’s sharpshooters.
Darren O’Malley finds Shane Killoran from a short kick-out. Killoran immediately kick passes to the Roscommon skipper. Smith has a lot to do here but he shows a great turn of pace to find a yard on John Daly down the wing. Daly does well to stick with the Boyle club man every step of the way.
However, Smith manages to flick the ball somewhat fortuitously over Daly’s head before drawing the foul from Ó Ceallaigh after a lung-bursting drive. The flick may have been lucky but fortune favours the bold and all that.
Galway did level proceedings once more, however, the damage was already done. Roscommon had all the momentum and Galway simply had answers.
Their ability to mix a hard, direct running game with accurate kick passing saw them turn the game in their favour and when you have a leader like Enda Smith at the wheel, any comeback is possible.
Anthony Cunningham’s men are the 2019 Connacht champions and given the fact they’ve come out of the province having beaten both their main rivals, they will be brimming with confidence going into the Super 8s.