AS EXTRA time began in Tuam Stadium last Saturday evening, the Roscommon minors knew they were lucky to be still in the 2012 championship.
Garreth Carroll's much-fancied minor team, one that had been installed as third favourites for this year's All-Ireland title, had underperformed in a game they were expected to win, certainly not as comfortably as they had done against Leitrim a week before, but to win nonetheless.
With the 60 minutes nearing its end, a highly fortunate goal from Galway's Eoin McCormack had turned the game on its head and a Sean Hughes point soon after looked to have sealed Roscommon's fate.
A Tom Corcoran free with two to play left just the minimum between them and with time essentially up, Ros' were awarded another free 30 metres out. It seemed a simple tap over for Corcoran but his mis-hit shot, what would have been the last kick of the game, was batted down and away by a Galway defender. Galway seemed to have won the day, but salvation for Roscommon arrived in the shape of referee Eamon O'Grady, questionable throughout but perhaps correct in this instance, who deemed that the Galway defender hadn't been back far enough from the placed ball and ordered a re-take from a now much closer distance. This time there was no mistake from Corcoran who forced the two extra periods.
If Roscommon were riding their luck somewhat at the end of normal time, the extra 20 minutes saw the Connacht champions produce a stirring display, one that by the end, saw supporters swarm around their new heroes in a show of tremendous excitement.
Galway had started the additional time with a free from Gary Kelly to push them back into the lead but, crucially, the home side wouldn't score again. Roscommon had chances for goal and didn't take them but an absolutely breathtaking free from the ever-accurate Diarmuid Murtagh levelled things up again.
In the third minute of the second period, Ros' hit the front again when substitute Kieran Kilcline ran at the defence and pointed a rousing score off his left boot. And when Murtagh curled over his sixth of the day at the death, the roof was lifted off the main stand.
The excitement witnessed in the closing stages was a far cry from earlier exchanges when Roscommon offered only some evidence of their favourites tag.
Michael Gunning had given the visitors an early lead on three minutes with a nice, curling effort off the left, before Ronan Daly set the tone for his Man of the Match-winning display on five, knifing his way through the heart of the Galway defence before drawing a foul. Diarmuid Murtagh did the rest, converting his first free of the day.
But thereafter Roscommon struggled to get decent ball into their forwards and instead, by the 14th minute, Galway had levelled matters up with a free each from Kelly and the lively McCormack. It would get even better for Tommy Joyce's side as Jason Lyons opened up a two-point gap for Galway with 25 on the clock.
A nice ball in from Ultan Harney three minutes later afforded Murtagh the chance to turn onto his left and curl over a majestic score, but it looked as though a half in which Roscommon dominated would end up being a fruitless one for the visitors. But all that was quickly forgotten when Daly found the net approaching injury time.
Fielding a Galway kick-out, Cathal Compton sent the ball in the direction of Clann na nGael's Ruardhri McManus. The ball broke kindly to him and suddenly the wheels were in motion. McManus sent a hand-pass to Gunning who quickly transferred to the late-arriving Daly. The Padraig Pearses player burst through two challenges and found the net with a blistering effort to leave the Roscommon dressing room a much happier place at the break.
A patternless second half saw the two sides exchange a couple of scores - Kelly (two) and Johnny Heaney for Galway; Corcoran and Murtagh for Roscommon. Ros' appeared to be stumbling over the finish line.
McCormack's late goal, a fisted effort after a Sean Hughes shot for a point had come back off the post to him, nearly ended their summer prematurely. The bit of luck and the extra-time heroics ensured the supporters still have plenty to look forward to.
Scorers - Roscommon: Diarmuid Murtagh (0-6, 4 frees), Thomas Corcoran (0-3, 3f), Ronan Daly (1-0), Michael Gunning (0-1), Kieran Kilcline (0-1).
Galway: Gary Kelly (0-4, 2 frees), Eoin McCormack (1-1), Jason Lyons (0-2), Johnny Heaney (0-1), Sean Hughes (0-1).
Roscommon: Shane Mannion; Philip Neilan, Dennis Barron, Cathal Kenny; Tadhg McKenna, Conor Hussey, Ronan Daly; Ultan Harney, Thomas Corcoran; Cathal Compton, Ruardhri McManus, Enda Smith; Diarmuid Murtagh, Kevin Finn, Michael Gunning. Subs used: Brian Fannon for McManus (39 mins), Niall McInerney for McKenna (40), Kieran Kilcline for Compton (51), Ciaran Casserly for Gunning (60), Cathal Compton for Casserly (70).
Galway: Rory Lavelle; Adrian Nolan, James Kennedy, Evan Wynne; Liam Silke, Conor Cunningham, Eoin Kerin; Stephen Lawless, Michael Day; Jason Lyons, Barry McHugh, Alan Meenaghan; Eoin McCormack, Gary Kelly, Sean Hughes. Subs used: John Heaney for Meenaghan (20 mins), Gerard Gibbons for Silke (37), Myles Upton for Lawless (47), Enda Walsh for Lyons (73), Colin Lyons for Cunningham (75), Cathal Slattery for McHugh (79).
Referee: Eamon O'Grady (Leitrim).