The full-time whistle was blown a short while ago at Dr Hyde Park in the Connacht MFC final. This confirmed a sensational outcome to this year’s provincial Championship at U17 level, as Sligo beat favourites Roscommon by 0-19 to 1-11. It’s the Magpies’ first Connacht Minor football title since 1968 and only their third one ever.
With Roscommon having beaten ourselves and Galway on the way to this evening’s final they could have been forgiven for believing that they’d the heavy lifting already done in this year’s Connacht Championship. If that was their understandable mindset coming into the game, they were quickly disabused of any such notions as the outsiders from the Yeats County took the battle to them right from the start.
Sligo raced into an early five-point lead but when Roscommon opened their account with a goal from Shane McGinley that brought them right back into it. Two points followed for the home team to level the tie after ten minutes.
Man of the Match Luke Marren edged Sligo back in front but a brace of Roscommon points sent them into the water break leading by the minimum. The wild, wet weather wasn’t making it easy for either team but a point from a ’45 from Kyle Davey followed by a Luke Marren free enabled Sligo to grab the lead once again.
Two more Luke Marren frees widened the Yeats County’s lead to three but the gap was back into just a single point at half-time. At that stage, Luke Marren had seven points on the board, six of them from placed balls.
Points early in the second half from Brian Duffy and Jack McGovern restored Sligo’s three-point advantage. By now, surely, hopes were rising in their ranks that the title was there to be grabbed.
The gap was just two points at the second water break. On the resumption, though, Roscommon cut the margin back to one but when James Donlon pointed with six minutes of normal time left, the underdogs were three in front once again.
With the tension rising, Sligo hit for home. A further point gave them a crucial bit of elbow-room, the home side now needing at least two scores to draw level. They got one – a point – but that was their final score of the night.
When they lost a player to a red card as the match was going into injury time it was clear that the evening, and the title, belonged to Sligo. Two late, late points added a final flourish for the Yeatsmen as they won by 0-19 to 1-11.
For counties that collect provincial titles all the time, it’s easy to forget those who only win the odd one. You can be sure, though, that tonight’s Connacht Minor title success won’t be forgotten by Sligo for many a long year and deservedly so.
Congrats to them on their great provincial title win this evening and the best of luck to them as they now shoot for All-Ireland glory at Minor level.