FBD Connacht League
THE last time that Mayo contested the FBD League Final was 2012. It was also the last time they won the Paddy Francis Dwyer Cup.
It’s safe to say that Mayo and this particular competition haven’t exactly seen eye-to-eye in recent years.
Thankfully, the record books show that a poor run of results in January hasn’t made a blind bit of difference to this particular group of Mayo footballers when the ground gets hard and the serious business starts later in the season.
With only four members of Mayo’s All-Ireland Final XV starting last Sunday at a wet and dreary Hyde Park, it’s safe to assume that this defeat to the Rossies won’t cause Stephen Rochford to lose too much sleep this week either.
In the space of five days he has watched 42 different players in action against Leitrim, Galway and Roscommon, and while he is still waiting for a first Mayo win of 2018, his priority remains the National League game against Monaghan on Sunday week next.
The Mayo manager won’t have learnt a whole pile from this latest work-out although Eoin O’Donoghue put in a solid shift at corner-back and apprentices like James Stretton, Fionn McDonagh and Ciaran Treacy caught the eye at times.
Westport’s McDonagh shot four points, including two neat efforts from play in the first half, while Ballina’s Treacy posted a couple of confident scores after missing a free from in front of the Roscommon goal in the first half.
Robbie Hennelly also capped his first start for Mayo in twelve months with an excellent save from Ciaran Murtagh’s last-gasp penalty four minutes into stoppage-time.
Those few cameos apart, from a Mayo perspective this match was really just a matter of getting some football into the legs and running some of the Malaysian excesses out of the returned holidaymakers.
With those few boxes ticked, Rochford and his management team will move on to the Sligo game next Sunday with another cluster of players still to be seen before the trip to Clones.
As for this second defeat in less than 48 hours, Mayo got what they deserved out of Sunday’s game on the new €700,000 pitch in The Hyde.
Despite playing most of the second half with only 14 men — after Ian Kilbride was sent off after a second booking — the Connacht champions proved too good for a patchwork Mayo outfit.
In the process, the Rossies booked their place in a third successive FBD League Final against Galway.
Kevin McStay picked a strong team for this repeat of last year’s All-Ireland SFC quarter-finals, with 10 of last year’s championship XV on duty.
And apart from a brief period early in the second half, the Rossies were never behind.
A crowd of around 2,500 turned up to watch, and the homeside led at half-time by 0-8 to 0-7 with the Daly and Murtagh brothers accounting for six points between them.
Fionn McDonagh landed three points at the other end in that opening period with Ciaran Treacy and regulars Jason Doherty (free), Paddy Durcan and Diarmuid O’Connor also on target.
However, Stephen Rochford saw his makeshift unit then hit the front after the restart after wuickfire points from the aforementioned McDonagh and Conor O’Shea eased the visitors ahead for the first time.
Unfortunately, their challenge faded out remarkably quickly.
A resolute Roscommon recovered from the loss of Kilbride to kick on, outscoring Mayo by 0-6 to 0-2 in the last 35 minutes.
Enda Smith, Diarmuid Murtagh (3, two frees), Conor Daly and Ciaran Murtagh (free) all picked off scores as the Rossies laid siege to the opposition goal.
All Mayo managed in response were white flags from their hard-working corner-forwards Ciaran Treacy and Neil Douglas in the 46th and 68th minutes.
Roscommon’s Ciaran Murtagh had a chance to gloss the final scoreline in the dying moments, but his well-struck penalty was brilliantly saved by Robbie Hennelly.
And that was the end of that.
C Lavin; D Murray, J McManus, N McInerney; C Daly (0-2), S Mullooly (0-1), F Lennon; E Smith (0-1), I Kilbride; N Daly (0-1), N Kilroy (0-1), C Devaney; C Murtagh (0-3, 2fs), D Murtagh (0-5, 3fs), F Cregg.
Subs used: R Daly for C Daly; S McDermott for Cregg; D Smith for Devaney; C McKeon for Murtagh; H Walsh for Kilroy; P Domican for Lennon.
R Hennelly; E O’Donoghue, G Cafferkey, C Crowe; C Boyle, P Durcan (0-1), J Stretton; S Coen, D Kirby; F McDonagh (0-4, 2fs), D O’Connor (0-1), C O’Shea (0-1); N Douglas (0-1), J Doherty (0-1, 1f), C Treacy (0-2).
Subs used: K McLoughlin for D O’Connor; S Akram for O’Shea; J Gibbons for Boyle; P Naughton for McDonagh; J Oates for Crowe; J McCormack for Kirby.
Referee: M Flaherty (Galway)
FBD Connacht League