PUSH COMES TO SHOVE Roscommon's Ronan Daly (19) is pictured getting to grips with Mayo's Diarmuid O'Connor during Sunday's FBD Connacht League match at MacHale Park, Castlebar. Pic: Sportsfile
Mayo’s interest in FBD League ends
THE honeymoon period for Mayo’s new management team will always going to end at some stage so an FBD League match on a freezing cold Sunday in January was probably as good a place as any for it to happen.
This five-point defeat to Roscommon on a crisp day at MacHale Park signalled the end of Mayo’s interest in the Connacht League and denied them an opportunity to get a crack at Galway in next Sunday’s decider.
However, apart from missing out on some valuable competitive match practice against the neighbours next Sunday, there was little else of consequence caused by this first defeat of the new season.
The victory was Roscommon’s first competitive win over Mayo in a senior fixture at the Castlebar venue since 1986.
Goals in either half from Diarmuid Murtagh and Mark Nally turned out to be the decisive scores as the visitors withstood a late Mayo rally to get the victory they needed.
Brothers Diarmuid and Ciaran Murtagh were the leading lights for Roscommon, but John Evans was pleased too with his side’s defensive display.
The winner’s well-organised approach laid the foundation for their success as they shut down Mayo’s experimental forwardline impressively over the hour.
The Connacht champions managed just two points from play over the hour and found it extremely difficult to make inroads.
“We knew there was going to be a step-up in quality and intensity today, we had played two colleges teams up to this, and that proved to be the case,” commented Mayo joint manager Pat Holmes.
“But it served a purpose for us. We always said that the FBD League was about looking at players and it has done that.”
Roscommon led at half-time by 1-6 to 0-6 with Diarmuid Murtagh’s well-taken goal on 19 minutes the difference between the sides.
Roscommon were still setting the pace midway through the second half, ahead by 1-9 to 0-8, when Mark Nally pounced on a loose pass from Colm Boyle to finish emphatically past Mayo goalkeeper Kenneth O’Malley.
The Murtaghs tagged on a score each to push the visitors ahead by eight points, and Mayo were left with a mountain to climb.
Alan Freeman did convert a penalty on 53 minutes to make things interesting, but Roscommon were not to be denied.
The record books will show that Messrs Connelly, Holmes and Collins looked at 36 players in total in this competition over the last three weeks, and they will have learnt plenty about many of their extended panel here.
They made eleven changes to the makeshift team that brushed aside the challenge of IT Sligo seven days earlier; Donal Vaughan (again posted at full-back), midfielder Barry Moran, and half-forwards Kevin McLoughlin and Morgan Lyons were the only players retained.
There were first starts of the new season for goalkeeper Kenneth O’Malley (recovered from an ankle operation before Christmas), All Star defenders Lee Keegan and Colm Boyle, David Drake, Seamie O’Shea, Diarmuid O’Connor, and Enda Varley and Darren Coen in the full-forward line.
Roscommon manager John Evans sent out a team that contained nine of his 2014 championship line-up, including five of his first-choice championship defence.
The Kilbrides, Murtaghs and Smiths were also present and correct in an attacking division that bristled with potential, and they delivered some impressive scores into the bargain.
Meanwhile, Pat Holmes also confirmed that former Irish rugby international Gavin Duffy was not part of Mayo’s match-day squad on Sunday due to work commitments with Connacht rugby in Galway. However, he is now eligible to line out with Mayo.
Time will tell who makes the panel for the trip to Kerry on Sunday, February 1 but this first defeat to the new year will be long forgotten by the time the action begins in Killarney.
K O’Malley; C Barrett, D Vaughan, L Keegan; C Boyle, S Coen, D Drake; S O’Shea, B Moran; K McLoughlin (0-6, 5fs), M Lyons, D O’Connor; E Varley, J Doherty (0-4, 3fs), D Coen.
Subs used: A Freeman (1-0 pen) for Lyons (35); K Rogers for Drake (44); M Ronaldson for D Coen (46); C Crowe for Boyle (46); J Gibbons for Moran (48).
D O’Malley; S McDermott, N Carty, N Collins; B Murtagh, N Daly, C Cafferkey (0-2); I Kilbride, M Healy; M Nally (1-0), E Smith (0-1), D Murtagh (1-4, 3fs); D Smith (0-1), S Kilbride, C Murtagh (0-4, 1f).
Subs used: R Stack for B Murtagh (47); R Daly for Stack (51, black card); F Kelly for I Kilbride (55).
Referee: E O’Grady (Leitrim)