Mayo’s 2015 FBD campaign came to a disappointing end at Elverys MacHale Park this afternoon as Roscommon ran out deserving five-point winners over the home side on a glorious day for football.
Mayo welcomed Kenneth O’Malley, Lee Keegan, Colm Boyle, Seamus O’Shea, Diarmuid O’Connor, Enda Varley and Darren Coen back to the team for the first time this season. On paper those players, allied with new blood being brought in, looked good enough to beat their neighbours and reach the FBD final against Galway.
Still no Gavin Duffy for the Mayo faithful, however, as the Salthill-Knocknacarra man was unable to get the day off work to pull on the Mayo jersey.
It was the visitors who got off to the quick start in the opening period with three points on the board inside the first ten minutes and really they should have had at least one goal in that period but for a wonderful save from Kenneth O’Malley.
It took Mayo until the 11th minute before they could raise a white flag from a Jason Doherty free right in front of the posts.
Doherty added another score from distance as the hosts began to gain a foothold in the game before a mistake in defence from David Drake allowed Senan Kilbride to drop the ball into the large square to Ciaran Murtagh. He quickly laid it off to his brother Diarmuid who made no mistake in crashing the ball past O’Malley in the Mayo goal.
Doherty added two more for Mayo from dead balls but nothing from play was coming off for the home side as Roscommon looked like they could completely overrun Mayo at times.
Enda Smith made a fantastic burst through the middle in the 27th minute and added a further score for Roscommon before Kevin McLoughlin added two to leave just three between the sides at half-time.
Mayo could consider themselves very lucky to be only three down at the break as Roscommon looked far hungrier and much more cohesive as a unit than the home side. On too many occasions Mayo players were left without any support against two or three opponents and the full-back line in particular played like they didn’t know each other at times, which should come as no surprise considering Chris Barrett, Donal Vaughan and Lee Keegan are all attacking half-backs.
The second half began much as the first with Roscommon dominating proceedings and adding three points to their tally against Mayo’s solitary free from McLoughlin in the opening ten minutes.
The Green and Red did create their first goal chance through Enda Varley but the corner-forward was taken out of it as he burst through on goal by a Roscommon defender. The referee amazingly waved play on, allowing Roscommon to clear their lines.
McLoughlin added another free before a mix-up in the back line saw a Chris Barrett hand-pass intercepted by Mark Nally to create a one-on-one for the Roscommon attacker. He made no mistake in slamming the ball past O’Malley.
It was the least Roscommon deserved for all their dominance and they also had a chance through Enda Smith but O’Malley made a fantastic save with his feet to keep the scoreline down.
The visitors stretched their lead through points from Diarmuid Murtagh and Enda Smith with a McLoughlin free keeping Mayo’s tally ticking over.
Then came the Mayo goal as Seamus O’Shea was taken down after bursting into the square. Substitute Alan Freeman stood over the spot kick and just as he has done many times in the past placed the ball into the bottom left corner to give Mayo a slight glimmer of hope.
The Green and Red only needed to lose the game by 2 points or less and they would reach the FBD final against Galway but try as they might in the final few minutes they could not get by the Roscommon rearguard.
Alan Freeman was fouled on the edge of the square for McLoughlin to add another free but that was cancelled out by another Murtagh score.
The final few minuets of the game, as Mayo chased the goal which would hand them qualification, turned farcical as Roscommon’s tactics of killing the ball and slowing play worked a treat and frustrated the Mayo lads enough to cause two seperate scuffles to break out on the pitch. All of which suited the Rossies perfectly as it was eating away at the clock.
Finally the referee blew the final whistle to much delight among the large Roscommon contingent to hand them their first win in Castlebar since 1986 and a date with Galway next Sunday.
Over the past two weeks we have been able to talk about the new players who provided Mayo with something new and were able to make good enough impressions on the management team that it was giving them a real headache in selection terms. Unfortunately today too many players made the decision for the new management team.
The full-back line, on paper our most experienced grouping, were just not good enough in their positions which as I have already said comes as no surprise considering they don’t belong in that line of the team. Stephen Coen came across as still too young and raw for such a pivitol spot as centre-back while the full-forward line, aside from Jason Doherty’s industry and scores, were just not at the races.
The referee as well left a lot to be desired as he seemed incapable of controlling a senior inter-county game and I will be very surprised if he is seen throughout the national league and championship. But that was far from the winning or losing of this game. It was a match that Roscommon seemed to want more and they rightly came out on the winning side.
Two points from play in a total of 1-10 is also very worrying for Mayo and no doubt will mean plenty of hard work being done in that aspect on the training ground over the coming weeks.
All in all a very disappointing end to the FBD campaign for Mayo and one which will leave the new management team with plenty to ponder over the next two weeks ahead of the opening round trip to the All-Ireland champions Kerry when they should have Keith Higgins back in the fold.
Mayo: Kenneth O’Malley (Ballinrobe); Chris Barrett (Belmullet), Donal Vaughan (Ballinrobe), Lee Keegan (Westport); Colm Boyle (Davitts), Stephen Coen (Hollymount/Carramore), David Drake (Ballaghaderreen); Seamus O’Shea (Breaffy), Barry Moran (Castlebar Mitchels); Kevin McLoughlin (Knockmore 0-6, five frees), Morgan Lyons (Ballyhaunis), Diarmuid O’Connor (Ballintubber); Enda Varley (Garrymore), Jason Doherty (Burrishoole 0-4, three frees), Darren Coen (Hollymount-Carramore).
Subs: Alan Freeman (Aghamore 1-0, penalty) for Lyons 35′, Keith Rogers (Ballaghaderreen) for Drake 43′, Caolan Crowe (Garrymore) for Darren Coen 45′, Mark Ronadson (Shrule/Glencorrib) for Boyle 46′, Jason Gibbons (Ballintubber) for Moran 48′.
Roscommon: Darren O’Malley; Sean McDermott, Niall Carty, Neil Collins; Brian Murtagh, Niall Daly, Ciaran Cafferkey; Ian Kilbride, Mark Healy; Mark Nally, Enda Smith, Diarmuid Murtagh; Donie Smith, Senan Kilbride, Ciaran Murtagh.
Referee: Eamon O’Grady (Leitrim).