Roscommon share the spoils with Dublin

May 28th, 2023

All-Ireland SFC Group Three

Dublin 1-11 Roscommon 0-14

By Paul Keane at Croke Park

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A point gained or a point dropped? Both outfits will feel they had the opportunities to win this intriguing All-Ireland SFC group opener but, crucially, neither could do so.

Leinster champions Dublin will perhaps be the more frustrated not to have held on for the win as they led by two points in stoppage time.

Late, late Roscommon scores from substitute Conor Cox and Donie Smith, who struck the 74th minute equaliser, ultimately earned the visitors a precious point.

It means that Roscommon are still waiting for a first Championship win at Croke Park since 1980 but, in the circumstances, they probably won’t complain about that one too much.

Davy Burke’s side will return to more familiar ground and Dr Hyde Park next Sunday when they face Sligo, who also began their campaign with a draw, in a crucial Round 2 encounter.

Dublin, meanwhile, will take on Kildare at UPMC Nowlan Park next Saturday afternoon.

They will hope for a brighter start on that occasion as it wasn’t until John Small’s 45th minute goal that Dublin finally generated any real momentum against the Connacht outfit in front of 30,802.

Dublin typically approached this encounter as favourites but within minutes it became clear that Roscommon weren’t burdened by any inferiority complex.

And why would they have been? Burke’s side came into the game off the back of nine games in a row against Division 1 opposition between the National League and Championship, winning five of those matches.

Dublin, meanwhile, had operated in Division 2 throughout spring before retaining the Leinster titles with wins over Division 4 and 2 teams.

Even with all their experience it was a fresh challenge for the Sky Blues who trailed from the opening score of the game, Ciaran Lennon’s third minute point, until the 48th minute.

Eddie Nolan was a late addition to the Roscommon lineup and started at midfield next to Enda Smith with Lennon, wearing number nine, pushed into the attack.

Michael Fitzsimons and Niall Scully were also drafted into the Dublin lineup at the 11th hour.

Fitzsimons picked up a black card for a challenge on Diarmuid Murtagh in the 18th minute. That left Dublin without two of the three players who had initially started in their full-back line as David Byrne, wearing heavy strapping on his knee, pulled up in the ninth minute and had to be replaced.

There was no Jack McCaffrey in the Dublin ranks either and they badly missed his dynamism in the half-back line as Roscommon largely set the terms of engagement.

The Rossies looked more like the All-Ireland hopefuls as they played a patient game of keep ball and burst through the openings in Dublin’s defensive screen when they were eventually presented.

Still, nobody expected that it would take over five minutes of Roscommon passing and recycling before they would create the opening that led to Ciarain Murtagh’s point three minutes into stoppage time, sending the underdogs in 0-9 to 0-5 clear at half-time.

Neither of the teams made any half-time changes though there was a significant switch – linesman Brendan Cawley taking over from Barry Cassidy as referee as he was unable to continue.

The teams traded a point apiece before Dublin finally got it going, John Small’s bundled 45th minute goal suddenly leaving them just a point behind at 1-6 to 0-10.

A series of points from placed balls kicked by Cormac Costello were Dublin’s reward for sustained pressure on the Roscommon rearguard and they approached the 70th minute with a 1-11 to 0-12 lead.

They couldn’t finish it off though and sub Dean Rock’s failure to convert an advanced mark before slipping deep into stoppage time as he took a free, along with Brian Fenton strangely fluffing what appeared a routine opportunity for a point, must have all energised Roscommon.

Cox’s introduction was significant and he brought the gap down to a point with a converted free before being fouled himself for a free that Smith converted to dramatically level it up.

Scorers for Dublin: Cormac Costello 0-7 (0-2f, 0-2 45), John Small 1-0, Con O’Callaghan 0-2, Sean Bugler 0-2.

Scorers for Roscommon: Ciarain Murtagh 0-5 (0-2f), Diarmuid Murtagh 0-3 (0-2f), Ciaran Lennon 0-2, Enda Smith 0-1, Niall Daly 0-1, Conor Cox 0-1 (0-1f), Donie Smith 0-1 (0-1f).

Dublin: Stephen Cluxton; Daire Newcombe, Michael Fitzsimons, David Byrne; Brian Howard, John Small, Lee Gannon; Brian Fenton, James McCarthy; Niall Scully, Sean Bugler, Ciaran Kilkenny; Paul Mannion, Con O’Callaghan, Cormac Costello.

Subs: Cian Murphy for Byrne 9, Colm Basquel for Mannion 52, Lorcan O’Dell for Scully 60, Dean Rock for Kilkenny 63, Tom Lahiff for McCarthy 69.

Roscommon: Conor Carroll; Conor Hussey, Brian Stack, David Murray; Niall Daly, Eoin McCormack, Dylan Ruane; Eddie Nolan, Enda Smith; Ciarain Murtagh, Ciaran Lennon, Cian McKeon; Diarmuid Murtagh, Donie Smith, Ben O’Carroll.

Subs: Keith Doyle for Lennon 46, Conor Daly for Ruane 48, Cian Connolly for O’Carroll 51, Conor Cox for McKeon 64, Ruaidhri Fallon for Nolan 64.

Referee: Barry Cassidy (Derry).

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