By Mark Jones
Roscommon 1-10, Dublin 0-6
The National Football League returned to Ireland’s grounds after its midwinter siesta and Roscommon showed the benefits of some hard graft during the break when they moved to the top of Div. 1A with a victory over Dublin at Hyde Park on Sunday.
Despite this deserved victory, the Connacht county didn’t have to be all that impressive as Dublin simply failed to fire on even one cylinder. The fact that not one of manager Tom Carr’s forwards managed to score from play over the 70 minutes was the most damning statistic of a dull contest.
"Extremely frustrating," Carr admitted, "but it’s not the time to panic or make wholesale changes." Brian Stynes, with three points, was the only Dublin player to score from other than dead-ball situations, while Fergal O’Donnell’s goal in the closing minutes made the game safe for Roscommon, who now join Kerry at the top of the division with three wins from four outings.
Kerry 3-16, Armagh 2-8
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Kerry’s success over Armagh at Killarney was somewhat on the flattering side, as Armagh were on level terms 10 minutes into the second half despite being without their five Crossmaglen players.
However, Mike Frank Russell then pounced for his team’s second goal, Seamus Moynihan was moved to mark Armagh’s dangerman, Diarmuid Marsden, and from then on Kerry were in charge.
Cork 2-9, Galway 1-9
Cork are not out of trouble in the nether regions of the division, but a first win of the campaign may be the catalyst to stave off relegation. Larry Tompkins’s charges took control from an early stage to beat Galway at Tuam.
Galway were a major disappointment and at one stage before the break, they trailed by 1-7 to 0-5. A Padraig Joyce goal revived their fortunes, but then Philip Clifford struck for Cork’s second goal — Joe Kavanagh had scored the first — and last season’s League champions held the home team at bay during the second half.
Donegal 0-10, Tyrone 0-10
Donegal kept their hopes of a playoff place alive with a draw with Tyrone at Ballybofey, but they ended frustrated by this share of the points. Having dominated the first half and having kicked seven wides, Donegal appeared to be on their way to a third win.
Leading by five points going into the final minutes, the result seemed assured, but the combined talents of Peter Canavan and Eoin Gormley steered Tyrone back into the contest and despite several more missed chances by Donegal, it was Gormley who tapped over a late free to square the game.
Derry 0-10, Sligo 0-9
Derry moved to the top of Div. 1B when they preserved their unbeaten run with a narrow success against Sligo at Markievicz Park. Sligo, who were seeking a third win of the season, led five times during a compelling contest, but they were edged out by a dramatic last-minute point by Ronan Rocks.
The teams were level five points each at the interval and Derry then decided to press Anthony Tohill into action. Tohill, who had been expected to be out of action for at least another fortnight due to injury, made an impact with a couple of scores.
Fermanagh 0-13, Kildare 1-9
Fermanagh, meanwhile, pushed themselves up into second place when they upset Kildare at Newbridge. The Ulster county’s third win of the campaign came against the odds given Kildare’s formidable home record and the Gallagher brothers, Ray and Rory, emerged as the day’s game breakers.
Ray compiled a total of 11 points and Rory added on another three to negate an early Kildare goal by Padraig Brennan. Anthony Rainbow of Kildare and Fermanagh’s Raymond Johnston were both sent off during the first half in separate incidents.
Meath 1-12, Down 2-9
Meath and Down may be rooted at the bottom of the division for the moment, but they produced a high-class encounter at Navan which finished level at 1-12 to 2-9. Meath’s Graham Geraghty emerged as the star of the show, scoring 1-7 in a faultless display, but not even he could deprive Down of the a share of the points.
Geraghty had an opportunity to cap his brilliant performance with a 40-meter free on the stroke of full-time, but his shot drifted wide. Michael Magill and Ciaran McCabe had goals for Down and the Ulster side should have profited more from the midfield dominance of Gregory McCartan and Brian Burns.
In Div. 2A, Offaly maintained their 100 percent record with a 1-7 to 0-8 victory over Westmeath, while a goal by Trevor Doyle earned Wicklow a 1-13 to 0-13 success against Leitrim. Doyle’s effort leaves Wicklow in joint second place alongside Louth who got the better of London by 1-19 to 2-8. Limerick’s dismal run continued when they were easily beaten, 2-14 to 0-10, by Antrim.
Also, Laois are blazing a trail in Div. 2B following a fourth victory in succession. This latest 1-13 to 0-7 success came at the expense of Carlow who are on four points with Monaghan, Tipperary and Longford. Monaghan edged out Wexford by 1-10 to 1-9, Longford also had a close call against Cavan winning by 2-11 to 0-16, while Tipp had a one point win over Waterford.