Shine goal shows way for rossies
...but 12-point win over Leitrim not a one-man job
The popular perception that Roscommon is a one-man team was somewhat dispelled at Páirc Seán MacDiarmada yesterday as the visitors came away with a 2-12 to 0-6 Connacht SFC semi-final win over Leitrim.
The evidence in Carrick-on-Shannon suggests there is a lot more substance to them than just Donie Shine's marksmanship and that their improvement from 2010, when they took the Connacht title, may be significant.
Shine got the important goal on 21 minutes that would effectively keep Leitrim at arm's length for the rest of the game, but they were in no way dependent on him after that as other players contributed on a desperate day for football.
Collectively Roscommon had far greater physical strength which told in the majority of exchanges.
The first goal came from such pressure as Leitrim forward Robert Lowe coughed up possession to Kevin Higgins. Shine was able to protect Higgins's delivery and, despite goalkeeper Cathal McCrann getting a touch, it nicked the inside of the upright on the way in for a 1-4 to 0-1 lead. From that point on the result was never in doubt.
Leitrim will be disappointed they weren't able to capitalise on their win against Sligo three weeks earlier.
The county's pool of players is so much smaller than anywhere else and they are essentially fighting with a hand tied behind their back.
That said, they were genuinely expected to be much more competitive and had reason to believe. But they clearly didn't help their cause by electing to play against the strong wind in the first half. They trailed by 1-8 to 0-2 at the interval, too great a challenge to face in such conditions.
Manager Mickey Moran believed the ploy would have worked if it wasn't for Shine's goal -- but they always ran that risk given the strength of the wind.
"We won the toss, because the way we figured it, the weather was going to deteriorate during the day. As it turned out, it was very strong in the first half, but again, 0-4 to 0-1 and hanging in there ... the goal was the killer."
Their Achilles heel was midfield, where the towering Michael Finneran imposed himself impressively on the game and Leitrim scrambled around him. "If you don't take that middle third of the field any team, even Kerry, will struggle," figured Moran.
"Roscommon took advantage of us and they had the midfield. I thought if we could make an impact in midfield in the second half ... but we had to replace our two midfielders."
The home side went without a score from the 23rd to the 52nd minute when Emlyn Mulligan broke the deadlock. They may have had a goal on 62 minutes when a Brian McDonald shot was blocked by Geoffrey Claffey, Adrian Croal's point came from the rebound so they got something out of it.
Near the end Roscommon put an extra gloss on the scoreboard up when Seán Purcell grabbed a break off Shine from a Senan Kilbride delivery and popped a pass into the path of Conor Devaney who stepped around McCrann for their second goal and book a Connacht final slot on July 17 at home in Hyde Park.