Dara Bradley at Dr Hyde Park
GALWAY outscored Roscommon six points to three in extra-time to win the Connacht U21 football final at Hyde Park on Saturday evening, scooping the county’s 17th JJ Fahy Cup in the process.
But the most intriguing narrative of this exciting encounter – and where it was lost and won – related to a bizarre rollercoaster finale that preceded the additional 20 minutes.
There was a stage deep into the second half of normal time when the penny finally dropped for Galway: All of a sudden, they realised Roscommon hadn’t the gumption to seal the deal.
Roscommon, three points to the good, were in complete control of the football having dominated the possession stakes for a large chunk of the second half. They held a knife to Galway’s throat at various points after half-time but never slit it; and, ultimately, Roscommon only managed to slay themselves.
The home outfit, who looked so dangerous in the first half, kicked five wides in succession in the fourth quarter, each one draining belief from their bones. Had one of them been converted, to make it a four-point ball game, one suspects Galway could have capitulated, the floodgates opened.
Roscommon bottled it, though, and were lacking conviction, lacking precision, when it mattered. And the more Roscommon looked like they were afraid to win it, and jittery about hammering the nail into the Galway coffin, the more Galway grew in confidence.
During that period of dominance, Roscommon could have fallen into a barrel of lollipops and they’d all come out sucking their toes. A combination of incompetence, ill-fortune and a stellar Galway defensive effort conspired against the Rossies, who kicked away the opportunity of retaining their provincial crown.
In contrast, Galway got three chances in the space of three minutes at the death and they landed all three. Bang, bang, bang, no messing, draw game. They taught Roscommon a lesson in accuracy, and being economical.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.