Mayo overcame a gallant Roscommon side at Hyde Park this afternoon yet arguably the Rossies were unlucky not to have caused a major upset.
Indeed many of those watching in Roscommon and nationwide on TV would share the view that the home side were to some extent the authors of their own misfortune having missed a few scoring opportunities, they will surely rue, and which could have sealed a memorable win for their relatively inexperienced side.
Ciarán Cafferkey’s expertly taken goal after 42 minutes appeared to suggest we were in for one of those unexpected shocks that rarely happen in Connacht football. With but eight minutes left on the clock, the Rossies ,managed by Kerryman, John Evans, led 1-8 to 0-8 points but from hereon in it was James Horan’s Mayo warriors who, with the greater experience on big occasions kept their heads.
Roscommon lined out, with a pretty defensive set-up, playing against a strong breeze but did well to curb Mayo’s attacking forces in early play.
Jason Doherty’s first point, with but two minutes on the clock, got the Connacht champions up and running yet a prompt response from Roscommon’s Kevin Higgins suggested we were in for a match which would keep the scoreboard guys pretty busy.
How wrong we were since Roscommon managed but two more points before the break, one of those being a Donie Shine free, the other from Senan Kilbride.
As it was it was the Mayo men who led 0-4 to 0-3 at the interval thanks to two frees from Cillian O’Connor (who else?) and one from Kevin McLoughlin.
Roscommon rocked the May men and gave much hope to the home supporters when they went two points up after 42 minutes better and were two points up when Ciarán Cafferkey and Niall Daly combined with Cafferkey putting the finishing touches, eluding Robbie Hennelly in the Mayo goal.
Five minutes later,Diarmuid Murtagh replaced brother Ciarán and soon had added three lovely points, two of them from open play.
With Donie Shine having been stretchered off, it was Mayo who took over with Andy Moran, Cillian O’Connor and Kevin McLoughlin in the vanguard.
In the end it was their greater experience that told as they progressed on Connacht whilst the Rossies must rue those missed chances and now hope for a decent draw in the qualifiers. Their relatively inexperienced side can look back with pride on their performance today and if they can up their performance in the qualifiers then the Roscommon fans will enjoy a few wins later.
Mayo, though they emerged victorious from a tricky encounter here, will need to improve considerably, if they are to win that elusive All-Ireland crown this year.
Scorers: (Roscommon): C Cafferkey 1-0, S Kilbride, D Murtagh 0-3 (f) each; D Shine 0-1 (f), K Higgins, M Nally 0-1 each.
Scorers: (Mayo): C O’Connor 0-5 (0-5f); K McLoughlin 0-4 (0-2f); A Moran 0-2; J Doherty, S O’Shea (0-1 each),
Mayo: R Hennelly; T Cunniffe, G Cafferkey, K Higgins; L Keegan, C Boyle, D Vaughan; A O’Shea, S O’Shea; D O’Connor, C O’Shea, J Doherty; K McLoughlin, A Freeman, C O’Connor.
Subs: A Moran for C O’Shea (45mins); A Dillon for D O’Connor (54mins); M Sweeney for Freeman (61mins); R Feeney for Doherty (73mins)
Roscommon: D O’Malley; S McDermott, N Carty, N Collins; I Kilbride, N Daly, C Cafferkey; C Shine, K Higgins; D O’Gara, D Shine, R Stack; S Kilbride, C Cregg, C Murtagh.
Subs: E Smith for I Kilbride (45mins); D Murtagh for C Murtagh (47mins); F Cregg for D Shine (54mins); M Nally for O’Gara (54mins); M Finneran for S Kilbride (68mins); D Smith for C Cregg (68mins)
Referee: Eddie Kinsella (Laois).