BACK IN ACTION Kevin McLoughlin made his first appearance of the new season for Mayo against Roscommon in the FBD Connacht League in Ballyhaunis on Sunday. Pic: Sportsfile
Mayo snatch draw from jaws of defeat
FOOTBALL FBD CONNACHT LEAGUE
THE bragging rights from this local derby remained untouched after Mayo timed their run to perfection to deny Roscommon a morale-boosting victory in this ‘dead rubber’ FBD Connacht League match at a freezing Ballyhaunis on Sunday.
Mayo debutant Alan Murphy, who only returned from his honeymoon a few days earlier, was the hero of the hour for the locals as he converted a couple of close-range free-kicks to spoil Roscommon’s day.
In truth, though, last year’s All-Ireland finalists were extremely fortunate to take anything from this engaging, if ultimately meaningless, fixture.
Despite lining out with nine of the side that started against Donegal last September, James Horan’s outfit were below-par for most of the afternoon.
“Roscommon deserved to win that game,” conceded the Mayo boss afterwards. “They were the more physical and more hungry team. They were consistent throughout whereas we weren’t. We played in patches.”
New Roscommon manager, John Evans, will be acutely aware that his experimental selection should have wrapped this contest up long before the finish.
Their second half display, in particular, merited more than a share of the spoils as they dominated in terms of territory and possession.
They also worked harder than Mayo during their spell in the ascendancy and actually held the reigning Connacht champions scoreless for twenty minutes after half-time.
However, a lack of firepower up front cost them dearly in the end.
Roscommon badly missed Donie Shine in the closing stages; the talented sharpshooter limped off before half-time with a recurrence of a troublesome hamstring injury.
Still, the Rossies looked set to get the job done as points from Donie Smith, Michael Finneran and Fintan Cregg left them ahead by 1-7 to 0-8 after 58 minutes.
However, Mayo managed to engineer a couple of close-range frees in the closing stages that were converted by the 31 year-old ‘new boy’ from Ballinrobe.
Mayo played their best football early on and they sprinted out of the blocks to lead by 0-5 to 0-2 after 20 minutes.
Aidan O’Shea, Jason Doherty, Seamus O’Shea, Keith Higgins and the aforementioned Murphy (free) all hit the target during that purple patch as Roscommon struggled to get going.
The visitors, who will be competing in Division 3 of the Allianz Football League this spring, actually went almost twenty minutes without a score.
But they came roaring back into contention with 1-2 in the space of four remarkable minutes before the break.
Cathal Cregg’s well-taken goal in the 27th minute helped Roscommon into an unlikely lead of 1-4 to 0-6 at half-time.
They upped their game considerably after the restart though and bossed the game as Mayo faded out of contention.
However, despite a lengthy scoring drought, points from Aidan O’Shea and centre-back Donal Vaughan kept the locals within striking distance of their wasteful opponents.
Roscommon were ultimately caught on the line but Mayo left plenty of room for improvement ahead of the visit of Kerry to Castlebar in two weeks’ time when the Allianz League swings back into action.
“We know where we are, that’s for sure,” remarked James Horan afterwards.
“I’m very confident that we will get it going we’re just finding it hard going at the moment. We have time to rectify that.”
D Clarke; G Cafferkey, S McHale, K Rogers; K Higgins (0-1), D Vaughan (0-1), C Barrett; A O’Shea (0-2), S O’Shea (0-2); K McLoughlin, R Feeney, L Keegan; A Murphy (0-3, 3fs), A Freeman, J Doherty (0-1).
Subs used: C Barrett for McHale (inj, 25m); M Conroy for Doherty, B Gallagher for Keegan, B Moran for S O’Shea (all 37m); T Cunniffe for Cafferkey (47m).
G Claffey; P Brogan, N Carty, C Daly; S Purcell, N Daly, J McKeague; M Finneran (0-1), K Higgins; C Dineen, F Cregg (0-1), C Cregg (1-1, 1f); D Smith (0-1), D Shine (0-2, 1f), D Keane (0-1).
Subs used: S Oates for Shine (inj, 20m); N Collins for Purcell (HT); D Keenan for Dineen (36m); D Hoey for Keane (52m).
Referee: R McBrien (Leitrim)
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