Patrick Durcan of Mayo breaks the tackle by Cathal Compton of Roscommon during the Connacht GAA Football Senior Championship Semi-Final match between Roscommon and Mayo at Dr Hyde Park in Roscommon. Pic: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
FOR the first time since 2015, Mayo will compete in the Connacht SFC Final after overcoming a fancied Roscommon side with plenty to spare in Hyde Park.
Much was being said about Anthony Cunningham’s Roscommon side coming into this crunch semi-final, who were confident of registering back-to-back victories over Mayo for the first time since 1980 after their recent Division 2 success.
However, James Horan’s faith in his young stars paid off as they brought a tempo and physicality to the game which the Rossies simply could not match.
And while plenty of Mayo’s young tyros and turks impressed, such as the outstanding Eoghan McLaughlin, it was the now veteran Cillian O’Connor who delivered for Mayo once more.
O’Connor hit 0-9 (6f) to win his second man of the match in-a-row, while rampaging wing back Paddy Durcan was not far behind the accolade, hitting two excellent points from play while putting a clamp on the influence of Roscommon dangermen Enda Smith for good measure.
The winning of the game was Mayo’s first half performance where they amassed a six-point half time lead after a flying start.
Much was said about this stern Roscommon defence coming into the game, but Mayo’s hard-running had them in sixes and sevens at times, with Diarmuid O’Connor’s 18th minute goal arriving after a penetrating run from McLaughlin.
It was the first goal Roscommon conceded since the opening round of the National Football League back when the world was a much different place.
Much praise can be placed on the match-ups James Horan and his management team decided on in the full backline too, with Oisin Mullin, Chris Barrett and Lee Keegan getting the better of their respective markers, Donie Smith, Conor Cox and Cathal Cregg, who were all substituted before the final whistle.
PLAYING with the wind at their backs in the first half, Mayo overran Roscommon up to the first water break, with Diarmuid O’Connor’s goal in the 18th minute putting them into a 1-6 to 0-2 lead.
O’Connor was in impressive form in the first half and also kicked a wonderful score off the outside of the boot, while the tireless Paddy Durcan, Kevin McLoughlin and Cillian O’Connor (3, 2f) also raised white flags.
Roscommon struggled to match Mayo’s tempo in that period and were restricted to only two points – a mark from Conor Cox and a Tadgh Rourke point. The Rossies did rally after the water break and outscored Mayo 0-3 to 0-2, with Cian McKoen and brace from Donie Smith leaving the score at 1-8 to 0-5 at half time.
Mayo will be frustrated with their shooting in the second quarter, hitting six wides and returning only two points – one from Aidan O’Shea and Tommy Conroy – in a period where they continued to dictate the play.
But a strong start to the second half meant Mayo coasted home from their on in.
Cillian O’Connor had four points on the board inside 12 minutes, to which a Donie Smith free was Roscommon’s only return.
Mayo were in complete control from their and fended off the Roscommon attackers who never really threatened David Clarke in the Mayo goal.
Points from Durcan, a brace of frees from Cillian and one from Conor Loftus capped off a hugely impressive win for Mayo and an important one for the development of this new-look side.|
D Clarke; O Mullin, C Barrett, L Keegan; P Durcan (0-2), S Coen, E McLaughlin; M Ruane, C Loftus (0-1); K McLoughlin (0-1), R O’Donoghue, D O’Connor (1-1); T Conroy (0-1), A O’Shea (0-1), C O’Connor (0-9, 6f).
Subs used: J Flynn for Loftus (41 mins, blood); M Moran for O’Donoghue (47 mins); J Flynn for D O’Connor (51 mins); R Brickenden for Ruane (65 mins); J Carr for Conroy (67 mins); M Plunkett for Coen (70 mins).
C Lavin; D Murray, C Daly, S Mullooly; R Daly, B Stack, N Daly (0-1); C Compton, T O’Rourke (0-1); N Kilroy, E Smith, C McKeon (0-3, 2f); D Smith (0-3, 1f), C Cox (0-3, 1m, 2f), C Cregg.
Subs used: C Devenney for Cregg (45 mins); C Hussey for O’Rourke (50 mins); C Lennon for Cox (60 mins); D Murtagh (0-2) for D Smith (62 mins).
Referee: D Gough (Meath)