Roscommon triumph at The Hyde.
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All-Ireland SFC Group Three
Roscommon 1-21 Sligo 1-11
By Ian Cooney at Dr Hyde Park
Enda Smith spearheaded Roscommon’s final quarter surge as Davy Burke’s charges came good to see off Sligo by 10 points in the Dr. Hyde Park sunshine.
Alan Reilly’s 49th minute goal threatened to throw the cat among the pigeons, reducing the Rossies’ lead to just two points.
But any fraying nerves among the home side’s supporters were soon eased as Roscommon responded superbly, kicking 1-7 in the final quarter to put themselves on top of the table on scoring difference from Dublin heading into the final series of matches.
The goal came from Dylan Ruane who netted his first championship goal with seven minutes remaining after being picked out by Smith’s superb pass.
The opening half was characterised by poor shooting from both sides. Sligo, with the wind behind them, shot 10 wides, while Roscommon missed the target six times.
Diarmuid Murtagh and Niall Murphy swapped frees inside the first 11 minutes, but Roscommon should have goaled when Murtagh was played straight through on goal, only to be denied by a smart save by Sligo goalkeeper Aidan Devaney.
Seán Carrabine, from a long-range free, and Cian McKeon exchanged points before Murtagh (free) and Enda Smith edged Roscommon back in front.
Murphy reduced the arrears with his second free of the afternoon before Smith, Diarmuid Murtagh and Ben O’Carroll, who was constantly making himself available for possession, left Roscommon 0-7 to 0-3 ahead after 25 minutes.
A score by Carrabine on the run from 40 metres was followed by an excellent effort from Alan Reilly to leave just two between them.
Colin Walsh fisted his first score in championship football, but Reilly was on hand again to land a decent point to leave Sligo trailing 0-8 to 0-6 at the break.
Early points from Enda Smith and Ciaráin Murtagh (free) suggested that Roscommon were going to assert their superiority, but the impressive Reilly and Carrabine replied to leave Tony McEntee’s side still very much in contention.
Another flurry of Roscommon scores from Cian McKeon, Ciaráin Murtagh and Dylan Ruane left the Rossies five points to the good. But they were rocked back on their heels when substitute Mark Walsh set up Reilly for a well-worked Sligo goal.
But the Roscommon response was excellent as they kicked 1-3 without reply — the goal coming from Ruane after being picked out by a superb Smith pass.
Sligo were struggling for oxygen now, and although Murphy added two late points, Donie Smith came off the bench to kick a couple of scores for the Rossies.
Diarmuid Murtagh also tagged on two late points before Enda Smith crowned a superb individual performance with his fifth point of the afternoon to leave his side eyeing up a place in the knockout stages.
Scorers for Roscommon: Diarmuid Murtagh 0-6 (4fs), Enda Smith 0-5, Dylan Ruane 1-1, Cian McKeon 0-3, Ciaráin Murtagh 0-2 (0-1f), Donie Smith 0-2, Ben O’Carroll 0-1, Colin Walsh 0-1
Scorers for Sligo: Alan Reilly 1-3, Niall Murphy 0-4 (2fs), Seán Carrabine 0-3, Nathan Mullen 0-1.
Roscommon: Conor Carroll; Colin Walsh, Brian Stack, David Murray; Niall Daly, Eoin McCormack, Conor Daly; Eddie Nolan, Ciarán Lennon; Ciaráin Murtagh, Enda Smith, Dylan Ruane; Cian McKeon, Ben O’Carroll, Diarmuid Murtagh.
Subs: Niall Kilroy for Conor Daly 45, Donie Smith for Lennon 48, Richard Hughes for McCormack 62, Conor Hussey for Niall Daly 63, Conor Cox for Ruane 65.
Sligo: Aidan Devaney; Evan Lyons, Eddie McGuinness, Nathan Mullen; Paul McNamara, Brian Cox, Luke Towey; Cian Lally, Paul Kilcoyne; Finnian Cawley, Seán Carrabine, Alan Reilly; Luke Nicholson, Paddy O’Connor, Niall Murphy.
Subs: Pat Spillane for Cawley HT, Mark Walsh for Nicholson h-t, Mikey Gordon for O’Connor 56 Keelan Cawley for Towey 65, David Quinn for Carrabine 70.
Referee: Conor Lane (Cork).