A very impressive first half display by Roscommon quickly put an end to the notion that this might be the year of the upset in football, at least as far as New York was concerned. From the throw-in it was obvious that the Big Apple squad had a big task ahead of themselves as Michael Finneran punished a wayward New York pass by picking up ball behind midfield and proceeded to solo right up the middle without the slightest hint of any resistance from the local squad. Despite reports of poor performances recently, this Roscommon team showed that they are the real deal as New York appeared to be greatly out of their depth for much of the game. One observer noted that New York was unable to land any real physical challenges to the Rossies.
However the reality was that they were simply not able, such was the difference in class between the two squads. The Rossies were always controlling the pace and flow of the game with the Big Apple squad struggling badly. They were fitter, faster and considerably more skillful as they delivered the ball with greater precision and purpose and executed some exquisite scores in the process. Their level of support play was really admirable, while twelve different players got on the score sheet including three defenders. Last year critics said that there should be an asterisk attached to their Connacht Championship as they got there without beating Mayo or Galway. Judging from their display today, that notion certainly does not hold much credence.
Meanwhile the Rossies kept the early pressure on the local squad appeared disjointed as Cathal Cregg sped goal wards only to be fouled. Senan Gilbride pointed the resultant free while he managed to win a free himself on the next attack, which Donie Shine pointed. Early New York raids led to naught as the Rossies quickly smothered the would be attackers while also dispossessing their opponents with timely tackles.
Eventually after seven minutes New York got their opening score after Kevin Walsh delivered a good diagonal ball into CJ Molloy, but the full forward was fouled. Dan Donna pointed the free which was moved in closer for dissent. The score did little to gain any traction for New York as Kevin Higgins ended a nice move involving Sean McDermott, Donal Ward and Niall Carty. The primrose waves continued as O'Grady and Cregg combined well for Conor Devanney to score a spectacular point. Two minutes later Devanney was denied a goal as Donal Ward sped through the middle to set him up but the shot was deflected out for a forty five, which Shine sailed over with consummate ease. Shine was now back to his best as he slotted over another after the speedster Cregg did the advance work. Devanney would add another minor before Roscommon launched two major strikes circa the twenty minute mark. First Kevin Higgins goaled after some deft feet work and a sequence of dummies by Senan Kilbride and Cathal Cregg set the stage for the score. Kilbride got the next goal as a blaster from Cregg was parried by keeper Hearty, but the full forward gave the keeper no chance with his shot.
The situation was now looking dreadful for New York as the Rossies led by 2-8 to a single point. However in fairness to the Big Apple boys they didn't drop the heads as they battled back and hit four unanswered points in the next five minutes. Dan Doona got the mini scoring spree going with a fine long range effort from a free. Ken O'Connor then latched on to a high ball from Pat Madden to fire over. Steve Harold returned the resultant kick out as the Big Apple squad were now enjoying their best spell as Adrian O'Connor and Jason Kelly were winning a good supply of the ball. Another attack ended as CJ Molloy was fouled out on the wing and Dan Doona showed his class as he struck a beautiful point with his left foot from an acute angle. For the remaining ten minutes the Rossies took control again as the tenacious tackling and industriousness of Ward in defense set up fellow defender Ian Kilbride for another superb score from long range. Cathal Cregg continued his scintillating runs which were a joy to watch but I'm sure a nightmare for the defense as he set up Shine for Roscommon's last score of the period. At the other end substitute Seamus Toner forced a good save from keeper Claffey after a good release from Molloy. Doona finished out the scoring for the period leaving the Rossies in a very commanding position as they led by 2-10 to 0-6 at the break.
Despite some fine fetches and promising runs by Adrian O'Connor which were marred by poor finishing, it was Donie Shine who scored first as he climaxed a good move by Kilbride and Cregg. Then Enda Kenny had the perfect introduction to the game as he came on as a blood sub for Shine and scored on his first touch as the ever vigilant Cregg picked him out with a judicious pass.
Jason Kelly, by far New York's best player slotted over a forty five, while the hard trying Brendan McGourty blasted badly wide after Big Kenny had fielded well in heavy traffic. Senan Kilbride added another after Karol Mannion threaded a great ball through to the powerful and accurate full forward. New York would continue to give their supporters something to cheer about once in a while as Big Kenny managed to deflect a high side line ball from Doona into the net. However the big strike by the big man was almost immediately negated as the ball was transferred quickly down the field where Enda Kenny and David Keenan combined in a defense splitting move that ended with man of the match Cathal Cregg unleashing a scud missile like shot to the roof of the net. At the halfway stage, it looked as if New York might have another goal as a drop kick from Jason Kelly rebounded very close to the line if not over it but the appeals were futile as referee Pat McEnaney followed the ball out the field. Over the next five minutes both sides exchanged points, CJ Molloy had New York's after Adrian O Connor was fouled while Cregg continued to bring his team mates into the scoring act as he set up the hard running Ward for the score.
Entering the last quarter the Rossies gave another exhibition of their fast fluid game with expertly taken scores. Fullback Peter Dodican made a sortie up the field to blast over a point as his cornerback was up in support. In the interest of efficiency and effectiveness midfielder Mannion returned the resultant kick out straight over the bar. Devanney, Cregg and Kilbride would all add points before Jason Kelly would land another forty five. Both sides traded a brace, Kilbride and sub Seamus O'Neill for the Rossies, while CJ Molloy and substitute Francie Cleary for New York as the game petered to its inevitable conclusion. Overall this was a very impressive display from Roscommon with Domican, McDermott and Ward being very effective in defense while up front Devanney, Kilbride and Cregg were exhilarating. Midfield was the only area where New York was able to contest as Adrian O'Connor fielded well at times but unfortunately the results were meager. New York will be extremely disappointed with the performance but the reality was that Roscommon was vastly superior in most areas as their experience, team work, fitness and skill had them in a different league to the gamely, but totally outclassed and outplayed Big Apple squad. Still Kelly, the O'Connors, Doona, McGourty, Power, Molloy and Stafford battled away to the end.
Roscommon; Geoffrey Claffey, Sean McDermott, Peter Domican(0-1), Niall Carty, Donal Ward(0-1), David Keenan, Ian Kilbride(0-1), Michael Finneran(0-1), Karol Mannion(0-1), Conor Devanney(0-3), Kevin Higgins(1-1), Cathal Cregg(1-1), Senan O Grady, Senan Kilbride(1-5), Donie Shine (0-5) Subs: Enda Kenny(0-1), Seamus O Neill(0-1), Sean Purcell, Stephen Ormsby, Ger Heneghan New York: Alan Hearty, Paul Lambe, Rory Stafford, Ronan McGinley, Johnny Goldrick, Brendan McGourty, Aidan Power, Pat Madden, Stephen Harold(0-1), Jason Kelly(0-2), Adrian O'Connor, Kevin Walsh, Dan Doona(0-4), CJ Molloy(0-2), Ken O'Connor(1-1) Subs: Seamus Toner, Kevin Smith, Francie Cleary(0-1), Mike Jim Fitzgerald, Damien O'Boyle Referee: Pat McEnaney Player of the game: Cathal Cregg.