THERE’S a bubble of intensity that separates winners from losers in the white heat of championship football and in this one-sided Connacht final at Pearse Stadium on Sunday it was Roscommon who ticked all the key boxes in terms of sharpness, motivation, physicality and mental focus.
In the end, Roscommon had a comfortable nine points to spare over a hapless Galway side and indeed such was their dominance for at least threequarters of this match that the margin of victory could have been far greater by the time Meath referee David Gough sounded the final whistle.
For Galway, this match had disturbing echoes of last year’s quarter-final collapse against Tipperary in Croke Park, as across almost every line on the pitch, they invariably lost out in the one-to-one battles to win hard ball.
Roscommon had been waiting in the long grass and despite a pretty abysmal league campaign they had put a huge effort into their championship preparations with Kevin McStay masterminding an inspirational performance from his charges.
Galway defensive frailties and a midfield sector that never lifted their game to the intensity of championship football were flaws clinically exploited by a Roscommon team in which Enda Smith dominated between the 45s and whose full forward line cut apart the home defence.
By any yardstick, this was a massive victory for Roscommon as they picked up only their third provincial title over the past 25 years and also secured a rare enough championship success against Galway.
Fifteen minutes of this final had elapsed before Galway seemed to realise that they were playing in a provincial decider and by then Roscommon had wreaked havoc on the home defence ramming in 1-6 as they launched wave after wave of attacks.
Galway lost possession from their own kick-outs – both short and long – and managed to launch only the occasional foray into the Roscommon half of the field during a first half when Kevin Walsh’s side only landed three points in total and just one of them from play.
Diarmuid and Ciaráin Murtagh shared six points between them with lively wing back Conor Devaney also raising a white flag but the first of Roscommon’s two killer goals in the 14th minute made clear their intent.
Full coverage in this week’s Connacht Tribune