Rossies edge forward to U21 final showdown with the Dubs

Roscommon’s U21s were in sparkling form for much of today’s All-Ireland football semi-final against Cork at a sun-kissed O’Moore Park in Portlaoise but although they did indeed end up booking their place in the final, relief rather than joy is likely to have been the dominant emotion in the dressing room afterwards.

Skating serenely towards a convincing win over the Munster champions, the Rossies coughed up three second half goals, with the final one – a 14-yard free crashed straight to the net by Dan MacEoin – momentarily pulling the Rebels level. There was still time for one final twist to this particular tale, though, as Cork’s Dan Ryan committed a technical foul by lifting the ball from the ground with his knees and MOTM Diarmuid Murtagh landed the winning score with the resultant free from way out under the stand (piece on this incident and video of the winning score are here).

It was rough justice on the young Rebels who’d fought back so bravely from a seemingly hopeless position with only ten minutes left to play but equally Roscommon would have been kicking themselves had they not clinched a contest in which they’d looked by far the better team for most of the hour. A bit more obduracy in defence would have made their task today far easier but it was their lethal attack, in which everyone from number 7 Ronan Daly up contributed to their winning total of 1-19 (Murtagh weighing in with ten points of that), that eventually saw them through to their second U21 decider in three years.

That final will be held over the May Bank Holiday weekend where Roscommon will have to contend with the might of Dublin. Mind you, the young Dubs were damn lucky to make it past Cavan in today’s second semi-final at Portlaoise in a low-scoring contest that was very different from the free-flowing shootout that had preceded it.

Cavan led this one for virtually the whole sixty minutes but it was Dublin’s profligacy they had largely to thank for this, with a succession of glory-hunting pot-shots from a number of Dublin players sailing harmlessly wide. I’m not sure what the Dubs’ final wide count was but it was at least 15 or 16 over the course of the hour.

Cavan’s cause wasn’t helped when their dangerman Joe Dillon was black-carded midway through the second half and as the half wore on you could sense that the Breffni lads wouldn’t have enough in the tank to make it over the line. Like at senior level, Dublin were able to bring on plenty of quality replacements off the bench and they kept coming in waves at the Ulster champions inside the last ten minutes.

This one was, like the day’s first semi-final, decided by a late free and although there was some angry jostling of the ref as he left the pitch afterwards, the free he gave for a foul on Dublin’s Gavin Ivory looked fair enough. Advantage was initially played but when Ivory pulled his kick wide under pressure, the ref called a free instead – which he was entitled to do – and senior player Cormac Costello made no mistake from close range to seal a rather undeserved semi-final win for the Liffeysiders.

Despite their less than impressive showing today, the young Dubs are still likely to be strong favourites to lift the county’s third U21 title in five years in next month’s final. On today’s evidence, however, Roscommon, who lost to the same opposition in the 2012 final at this level, should have no fears going into this one. If they play for the full hour the next day the way they did for most of today’s semi-final then it could well turn out that this All-Ireland title is one that’ll be staying west of the Shannon for another year.

37 thoughts on “Rossies edge forward to U21 final showdown with the Dubs

  1. Just happened to catch the end of the Dublin match. The player who scored the equalising point for Dublin should have been off for a black card. Not too sure was the last one a foul either. No more than Bernard Brogan’s non-existent penalty, I’m not sure if it was another team would it have been given.

    Did you see in the semi-final that of the four teams, Mayo gave away 9 scoreable frees, Derry and Cork 7, and Dublin only 2. Now either the Dublin backline is incredibly disciplined, or refs are being lenient on them.

    Then again, maybe I’m just biased against the Dubs. Who knows.

  2. I think Digits has a point, Martin – the home-town decisions Dublin are racking up are too frequent to ignore at this stage and the penalty award last Sunday was one of the softest I’ve ever seen. That said, the black card that wasn’t from today’s game was the right call – the Cavan player had a fistful of McHugh’s jersey as he went to ground and there’s no way that was a black card offence.

  3. Having looked at it again, I agree it’s not a black card. But the referee still got it wrong in giving a yellow card to the Dublin player, unless it was for repeated offences.

    If as WJ says they were fouling simultaneously, then it’s a hop ball, no card.
    Did the referee class it as “rough play”? Don’t see how he could have. So no yellow there either.
    If the free was for pushing (which I don’t think he did) or for holding the opponent, then it’s a tick. But the ref didn’t indicate anything except the yellow card.

    Referees should have to indicate what a card is for. There aren’t very many offences, come up with a signal for each. And if it’s for multiple offences, they must show the fingers. Otherwise how can we have any accountability.

    Pity about the shameful scenes at the end though. I can officially call it shameful scenes as it’s the definition which is in “Balls.ie GAA Phrases You Need to Know”:

    A shemozzle is a row on a GAA pitch that is more serious than handbags but not as violent as a fraca or a melee. Consider it like this: if there is more than two people involved in the row then it’s at least a shemozzle, however if a headbutt or a dangerous punch is thrown then it’s worse than a shemozzle. When subs, fans or members of management get involved then the row officially takes on the term ‘shameful scenes.’

  4. Willie Joe, I think we could well do without that type of smart one liner from Martin the Dub on this Blog. Digits made his points in a fair and reasonable way and didn’t deserve a reply like that. Surprised you didn’t give Martin a caution at the very least…..

  5. Well done to Roscommon. They have some nice players coming through the ranks. All very positive stuff for Club Rossie. Should do it against the Dubs this time

  6. I took it as a light-hearted riposte, to be honest – Martin has been posting here for some time and has shown he’s a genuine sort and I didn’t think his reply merited any kind of caution. I did respond, though, to support Digit’s point which I agree has merit.

  7. Yes I too am delighted for the Rossies, great to see Connaught teams doing the biz, would be nice to see them winning it now but it will be a tough one.

  8. Well done Roscommon. They looked excellent for long periods of game. Lots of big strong guys who can kick points from distance. All that work at underage level is paying off. Good luck in final. . Also think that negative comment about Martin the Dub is uncalled for. Always find his comments fair and reasonable. There was a Rossie poster who used to come on here but has disappeared since the club finals as a result of someone being unhappy with what he said. Anyway happy Easter to all and especially to you WJ and thanks once again for your excellent work on this site.

  9. The Rossies look good alright, I’d expect them to beat the Dubs in the final.

    My first impression was that Murtagh didn’t appear to take that free from where the offence took place, but that seems quite a common occurrence these days anyways.

    Looking at the quality of the first game, we need to have a serious look at ourselves.
    Our U21’s seem to be a mile off that standard.
    Hopefully last years minors can halt this recent trend in the next few years.

    Ros have put a lot into their underage structures over the past few years.
    It’ll be interesting to see if this translates into senior or if they go the way Galway’s successful underage players have gone. There are no guarantees.

  10. Dan I would love to agree with you regarding the minors making an impression at u21 next year. In my experience we always go with the minors of previous years and hope they have progressed in the couple of years since their minor years. The reality is they do not. Our record in this regard over the last 6 years speaks for its self. We have won 2 games in the last few years with this ploy. I would recommend a new look at who plays on the u21 team. Some of our best players down the years did not play u16 or u18 for the county. Just look at the u21 lads for the last few years and ask yourself how have they been progressing. You will find some are not playing well if at all? Success at minor guarantees us nothing.

  11. My thoughts exactly Dan – looking at the physical conditioning of the Ros players again yesterday and reflecting back to the Mayo game in March it made me wonder what our so called development academy is actually doing in helping players make a successful transition out of the minor grades. I feel any pull through will more likely come from our Senior team playing Div1 football competitively which hopefully will continue in the years to come. Its fine for Galway and Ros to be successful at U21 grade, however, if all that they’re going to experience in their initial years of Senior development is Div 3 or maybe Div 2 football then there may be a limit to the levels of performance that they can achieve. Mayo senior football is in a good place at the moment, however, seeing the relatively low numbers of new young talent coming through onto the squad over the past two years that are able to make a real impact is somewhat of a cause for concern for the second half of this decade if we want to continue to dominate Connacht.

  12. I do not think that Martin deserved a reprimand for his comment. There was nothing remotely insulting or derogatory in it and it was the type of reply I would expect from anybody.
    It adds a lot to the site that we have outsiders like Martin the Dub and a few others from other counties contributing.

  13. Can anybody tell me what Roscommon are doing at underage level which Mayo are not. As I am based outside the county I am not familiar with the set up in Mayo re underage academies etc. While they are important they can be over emphasised as players left out can feel they are not up to standard when they may just be late developers. It is equally as important to give players regular games without risking burning out the best players with too many games. sometimes the hunger for competiitive success by clubs, coaches etc can do more harm than good.
    One thing I notice about the Rossies underage teams recently is that they are all big in stature. Have they gone for a policy of picking big players in preference to smaller players regardless of skill? For example, while I wouldn’t call last years minor Tommy Conroy “small” I do not recall seeing a similar player in a Roscommon jersey for some time.

  14. I dunno, but I fail to see the joy in Roscommon winning this and being successful. It’s not being mean spirited or anything, just I don’t wish our enemies any success. Keep in mind, that same team may well line out against our lads in the championship in May. If they win on May 3’rd, their tails will be up and we could be ambushed in the Hyde…..then, where’s the joy in that?
    Anyway Happy Easter to all Mayo ppl everywhere !

  15. Hi All,
    Firstly apologies if I caused offence as my comment was not meant to be smart. I have huge respect for Mayo and hope I didn’t insult anyone on this site. Apologies to Mayo McHale my intention was not to offend. I take Willie Joe’s comments on board and to be fair I do agree in some instances. As always I wish the Mayo team the very best in the Championship and apologies if I did offend, cheers.

    Regards,
    Martin the Dub

  16. Galway want to be back in div 1 and senior AI contenders they are long way from that at the moment. What would Roscommon targets be at Senior level? maybe happy enough to stay in div 2 and win a Connacht title within the next three years.

    I thought the Rossies should have won pulling up against Cork but they allowed the rebels back into. The best player got the winning score stupid mistake by the Cork defender picking the ball up with his knees.

    The 2nd game Cavan put in the most effort and IMO deserved a win however the Dubs only needed to play well for the final 10mins to win it.

  17. Hi Martin, just to let you know I didn’t take any offence at your comment whatsoever. In fact, I deliberately said that I could be conceived as biased with you in mind. No need to apologise! Enjoy the build-up to the championship.

  18. Mister Mayor, I can see where your coming from but if Mayo are serious about doing anything this year, than a tough examination in Connaught will stand to them later on. Should they not be good enough to win in their own Province, they might as well throw their hat at it for a few years….

  19. Seeing as I started this, I might as well finish it as well. After reading all the comments above, I’m obviously very much off side on this one and have no problem in accepting that now. And Martin I assure you I have no issue with you or indeed any Dub for that matter. I’ve spent most of my adult life there and almost feel like one of you, and as for my Sons, they are more Dublin than the Dubs themselves and indeed wear their colours with pride and no small amount of passion.

  20. Mayo Magic, I would say that Roscommon would be a lot more ambitious than you suggest. There seems no good reason why they should not aim for the Div 2 NFL title next year. The standard in Div 2 is not great and Roscommon would be well capable of giving any of them a game. They are probably be aiming for a Connacht title next year if not this. This Mayo team cannot go on forever and I would not be betting on them for next year regardless of how they perform this year. There is no sign of anybody other than Roscommon emerging in Connacht.

  21. I know Roscommon are good team but will anyone of the lads make the senior team it’s a big step from u21 to seniors maybe be force later on but not this year best of luck in the final against the dubs and I hope they win.

  22. Conor Daly,Donie Smith have played senior the last two years and Diarmuid Murtagh,Enda Smith have performed well for them when gaining promotion this year. All four will continue to make the step up.

  23. I was at the games in Portlaoise yesterday. And I wasn’t surprised that the Rossies beat Cork – they were by far the better team, but a WJ pointed out, they leaked those goals in the second half and nearly let it slip away.
    They were also missing two good defensive players, and both will be available in two weeks for the final, which is expected to be in Tullamore.
    What a super score to clinch from last year’s minor, young Murtagh. I wish we could finish-out the important tight games like that.

    Wasn’t that impressed by Dublin. They had a lot of wides, but it should be remembered that Cavan’s zone defence hadn’t conceded a goal in their previous 4 games – perhaps a model for our seniors to follow.
    If the Rossies marshal 3/4 of Dublin’s forwards (Scully, Mannion, McHugh and Costello) well and keep Caffrey from ranging forward, I think, the U-21 title will be staying in the West.

    Best of luck to them, and I’m hoping our county board gets the act together on better underage structures before it’s too late.

    It should be noted, the record of Cork, Cavan, Dublin and Roscommon in their respective provincial U-21 titles in the last 4/5 years.

  24. Agree. I think U21is a crucial grade. Our senior side of 1996 and 1997 contained lots of players who emerged from our U21 sides of 1994 and 1995 which lost AI Finals to Kerry and Cork while our successful 2006 U21team has provided quite a few of our present seniors. Tyrones U21success built foundations for great senior teams.I am genuinely concerned about Mayo going forward. Galway will emerge and these Roscommon guys and their co board mean business. Hopefully we can build on our minor success. If not, when this great senior team of ours grows old we could be in for a few lean years. Hope I m wrong but it is a concern.

  25. Some interesting statistics gleaned from the Western this week:

    – Mayo’s record in Croke Park under JH’s tenure is Played 15, Won 6, Drawn 1, Lost 8.

    – Between FBD and league, Shane McHale is the outfield player who has played the most minutes this year.

    – 7 players who didn’t start the AlF last year have played the near equivalent of 5 full matches for Mayo so far this year: Shane McHale, Jason Gibbons, Brendan Harrison, Jason Doherty, Kevin Keane, David Drake and Mikie Sweeney. Match sharp?

    – Regular panelists Enda Varley, Michael Conroy & Seamus O’Shea, along with Castlebar trio Feeney, Moran and Cunniffe have roughly played less that 2 league matches each. Not match sharp?

    – AIF starters Chris Barrett and Alan Dillon not played a minute of intercounty fair this year. Can they even get match sharp?

  26. If the Mayo team are to prosper beyond the current setup it will have to happen with guys that did not feature U21 for the county in the last few years. While there is nothing unusual about that it will be in stark contrast to the Dublin’s Cork and Rossies of this world. It seems a bit strange from my point of view.

  27. Willie, any news from the home camp in relation to injuries etc?

    New yak not far off now.

  28. Anyone know what has happened to Evan Regan, he started so well for the collage , this year .

  29. In Championship which its what its all about it is as follows 2011 beat Cork lost to Kerry, 2012 beat Down and Dublin, lost to Donegal, 2013 beat Donegal and Tyrone lost to Dublin. I know all Mayo supporters are aware of this but that’s 8 championship matches and 3 defeats. This includes beating the then AI Champs 3 years in a row and being beaten by eventual winners twice. In other words we have done everything except win the bloody thing. We have now reached the stage where its AI Champs or nothing. That just shows where we stand at the moment. We need to enjoy these years as I fear we could struggle in a few years time. I feel this year is our last chance with this group of players who have firmly established us as one of the top three teams in the country.There is no doubt but that they deserve the ultimate reward but deserving and getting are two totally different things and in all honesty I think its a huge ask this year.Anyway they must keep going and hope for the best and not feel burdened by 63 years of history.They owe nothing to anyone and regardless of what happens this year they have proved themselves the best team to represent our county since 1951

  30. Good info Digits.

    Gibbons and Sweeney have really impressed me in the last couple of months.

    Harrison and McHale have also benefit from their game time and both look very capable. Keane is on the road to recovering his confidence and I’m not sure about David Drake.

    SOS has been coming back steadily (but is currently JH’s third choice midfielder) and the Castlebar trio have had some football all winter. TC will be a starter, and I believe Feeney is a much better half-forward that Keith, just as he’s a great back. But JH seems to have some problem with Richie and Barry is fourth in line at midfield.

    I’m worried that we will ever see the real Dillon again because of his particular injury and I agree Chris Barrett will need to be getting back soon. He has residual fitness from the last three years but Ned’s to be getting back and plenty game time.

    But you know the one I was hoping would grab his opportunity better and have shown more consistency is the Doc. He needs to hit a higher note more regularly.

  31. Micheal o muircheartaigh famous words for success. Bord na nog. Bord na nog. We can’t forget this

  32. Brogan’s Boy, I totally agree!

    Any county board that has seen what has gone on in Kerry in the last 10 years or more compared to what Tipperary has done with underage football, would be stone mad not to have invested in much better structures and a long term plan. What Roscommon has produced with half our player numbers should ring the alarm bells louder close to home but no! But that’s what is happening in Mayo, and despite this, a good manager moulded a minor team last year to win an All-Ireland.

    There is also no regional structure married in to U-21 and college football to capture late developers or those that are on the verge but don’t make the senior championship panel. Throw in fast developing minors that need more gym time, and that is your belt and braces link to continuity at the top level, if it is managed well.

    Fail to prepare, prepare to fail !!!!

  33. can only agree with this U21 far more important than it is treated, a lot of players fall between the cracks after minor but if they are committed by U21 then they can push on. would like to see our minors now grow into a succesful u21 outfit

  34. i would argue it has been “win the all ireland or nothing” since 1989!

    lets get our connacht 4-in-a-row and hopefully a kinder draw in the quarters this year, cork , down and donegal were tough draws coming out of the hat regardless of the good work we made of them.

  35. to win just once, that is the most sensible and insightful comment that anyone has made here in the last number of weeks.

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