Roscommon are hit with a late Clare sucker punch.

June 15th, 2022

All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Round Two

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Kevin Egan at Croke Park

A sensational score from Jamie Malone crowned a remarkable comeback from Clare at Croke Park this afternoon, as they scored 1-3 without reply from the onset of the 68th minute to sucker punch Roscommon and undo what looked like a match-winning second half-surge from the Connacht county.

The Banner County led by two at half-time and possibly would have felt unlucky not to have led by more, after playing some outstanding football, laced with pace and intent. Cathal O’Connor showed incredible leadership and drive at midfield, crowning an excellent personal display with two stunning points, and all across the field, it seemed like Clare were much more eager to try and make ground as fast as possible.

Roscommon got an early break when a hopeful, high ball from Conor Cox found Diarmuid Murtagh isolated inside the square, and the big St. Faithleach’s man was able to outreach Tristan O’Callaghan and touch the ball into the Clare net.

Clare quickly got back on terms however, before retaking the lead midway through the first half through a Keelan Sexton goal. Ciarán Russell did well to keep the play alive in the right corner, and once he played the ball across to Sexton, pressure from David Murray and Ronan Daly was unable to prevent him forcing the ball across the line.

It looked like Roscommon settled themselves through a Ciaráin Murtagh point, but outside of the two Murtagh brothers, they made very little impression up front, and spurned a number of opportunities as they tried to force openings in a very crowded goalmouth.

Clare pushed their lead out to four points coming up to half-time, but it seemed that Roscommon found a little bit of energy and urgency in response to that setback, and they forced two more points before half-time to leave it 1-10 to 1-8 at the break.

Perhaps it took that time for the Rossies to get their Connacht final defeat out of their system, as they were a transformed side after half-time. Ultan Harney and Eddie Nolan took control of midfield, Ronan, Conor and Niall Daly all drove forward with purpose, while their bench played a huge role in turning the game around.

Donie Smith, Richard Hughes and Keith Doyle all chipped in with points from play as they pushed up, forced mistakes and turnovers on the Clare side, and after conceding the first score of the second half to a well-take Sexton free, they went on an 0-9 to 0-1 run up until the 68th minute.

That looked for all the world as if it would be enough, but after a quick free from Eoin Cleary reduced the gap, a lapse in defensive concentration left Gavin Cooney one-on-one with David Murray under a high ball. Cooney broke the ball to a colleague, took the return pass, and was fouled in the act of shooting by Ronan Daly.

Sexton held his nerve to send Conor Lavin the wrong way from the penalty, and did so again when he had to nail a free from 50 metres to tie the game.

With two of the five additional minutes to play, it was always likely to come down to one chance, and that chance fell to Jamie Malone, who charged forward to put the finishing touch on a steady two-minute possession for the Banner County, firing the ball over from 40 metres out.

The rattled Rossies won the kickout and mounted one last attack, but with time running out and the defence packed, a hopeful long-range effort from Andy Glennon was all they could muster, and once it tailed narrowly wide, Clare’s place in next Monday morning’s quarter-final draw was secured.   

Scorers for Clare: Keelan Sexton 2-6 (1-0 pen, 0-5f), Emmet McMahon 0-2, Cathal O’Connor 0-2, Eoin Cleary 0-2f, Pádraic Collins 0-1, Cillian Rouine 0-1, Jamie Malone 0-1.  

Scorers for Roscommon: Diarmuid Murtagh 1-2 (0-2f), Ciaráin Murtagh 0-5 (0-1f), Ronan Daly 0-2, Donie Smith 0-2 (0-1f), Cian McKeon 0-1, Conor Cox 0-1f, Niall Kilroy 0-1, Conor Daly 0-1, Richard Hughes 0-1, Keith Doyle 0-1.  

Clare: Tristan O’Callaghan; Cian O’Dea, Manus Doherty, Cillian Rouine; Jamie Malone, Ciarán Russell, Alan Sweeney; Darren O’Neill, Cathal O’Connor; Pearse Lillis, Eoin Cleary, Emmet McMahon; Pádraic Collins, Aaron Griffin, Keelan Sexton.

Subs: Brendan Rouine for Sweeney (53), David Tubridy for Griffin (54), Gavin Cooney for Collins (61), Conor Jordan for McMahon (66).

Roscommon: Colm Lavin; David Murray, Brian Stack, Conor Daly; Conor Hussey, Ronan Daly, Niall Daly; Ultan Harney, Eddie Nolan; Niall Kilroy, Ciaráin Murtagh, Enda Smith; Cian McKeon, Conor Cox, Diarmuid Murtagh.

Subs: Richard Hughes for Hussey (41), Donie Smith for Cox (46), Keith Doyle for Kilroy (58), Andy Glennon for D Murtagh (64), Eoin McCormack for McKeon (68).

Referee: Niall Cullen (Fermanagh)

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