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Wednesday, March 29, 2023

National Football League: Roscommon beat Tyrone in Division One thriller

Ben O’Carroll (left) was man of the match on his league debut while Enda Smith (right) made a big impact off the bench

Roscommon scored three second-half goals to stun Tyrone by 3-11 to 1-12 in a thrilling Division One opener at Dr Hyde Park.

The hosts, with the wind in their favour, led by 0-8 to 0-5 at half-time.

Kieran McGeary netted to put Tyrone into the lead for the first time but goals from Ciaran Murtagh and Diarmuid Murtagh stunned the Red Hands.

Ben O’Carroll, on his league debut, added a third goal in injury-time as Tyrone chased a late equaliser.

Returning to the top tier after one season in Division Two, Roscommon settled better in the early stages as both sides felt each other out.

Tyrone youngster Darragh Canavan fisted wide before O’Carroll fired over two quick points – the second of which was a fine solo effort.

Mattie Donnelly was the next to fire wide but Peter Harte got Tyrone on the board with a free after 10 minutes.

The sides continued to cancel each other out, and every time Roscommon went two head Tyrone were able to peg the home side back but could never gain enough momentum to draw level.

Harte uncharacteristically kicked wide as the breeze caused the Tyrone attack all sorts of problems, and Roscommon stretched clear as Brian Stack and Conor Cox kicked quickfire points.

Niall Daly landed his second long-distance score of the game to edge the Rossies into a 0-8 to 0-3 lead, but the Red Hands rallied with their best patch of the half.

David Mulgrew stopped Roscommon’s run before Canavan pulled another back with the outside of his boot, however Harte struck the upright with the final play of the half as Brian Dooher and Feargal Logan’s men went in three points down at the break.

Tyrone rocked by Roscommon goals

Diarmuid Murtagh's goal put Roscommon back into the lead
Diarmuid Murtagh’s goal put Roscommon back into the lead

Darren McCurry, on for Cathal McShane at half-time, pulled one back with a free before a superb, looping effort brought the margin back down to one.

Goalkeeper Niall Morgan levelled the game with a long-range free, but Roscommon edge back in front when Cox knocked over a simple kick.

Dylan Ruane spurned a goal chance for Roscommon as he fisted into the side netting, albeit it under pressure from Morgan, but Tyrone grabbed a crucial three-pointer minutes later when the jumping McGeary flicked the ball home from Morgan’s free into the danger zone.

McCurry struck again to put three between the sides, and the forward looked like he would fire home when clean though on goal but he stumbled when reaching for the ball, and Roscommon then grabbed a goal of their own to add insult to injury. Replacement Enda Smith found Ciaran Murtagh at the back post and the forward struck into the bottom corner to level the game 18 minutes into the second half.

Roscommon stunned the Red Hands with their second goal in six minutes. Smith was involved again as he found O’Carroll in space, and a combination of Diarmuid Murtagh and Tyrone’s Conor Myler touched the ball into the net.

Cormac Munroe was then shown a black card for Tyrone to make matters worse, but Canavan gave the Red Hands some much-needed relief with a well-taken free.

Ciaran Murtagh split the posts to again put three between the sides with six minutes of normal time remaining, but Richie Donnelly immediately hit back before Niall Sludden brought the margin down to one.

However, Daly kicked over for the hosts in the first of six minutes of injury-time before Canavan sent a crucial free wide in the swirling wind in the closing stages of injury-time.

Man of the match O’Carroll rounded out the win in the final minute when he slotted into the bottom corner as Tyrone pushed up field in search of a late equaliser.

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