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Mayo end long wait for FBD League title


Connacht FBD League

Mayo 0-13
Roscommon 0-9

Mike Finnerty

ELEVEN years after Alan Dillon lifted the Paddy Francis Dwyer Cup following Mayo’s last FBD League title win, Stephen Coen did likewise in the centre of the Air Dome in Bekan on Friday evening.
And while a lot of water has flowed under the bridge since that last provincial league success back in 2012, the sentiments expressed by Mayo’s respective captains and managers hadn’t changed much in the interim.
‘Nice to win a trophy’, ‘we got a lot out of the competition’, ‘now we move on to the National League’. That was it in a nutshell.
There were echoes of Dillon and James Horan in the reaction of Coen and Kevin McStay as they reflected on the end of the shadow-boxing of the pre-season competition.
The low-key reaction was also in keeping with a Mayo display that was good enough to beat a shadow Roscommon selection, but that Stephen Coen admitted was ‘lacklustre’ and Kevin McStay termed ‘patchy’.
The main positives for McStay et al were further signs that the squad’s pre-season training regime has done them no harm, their attitude and application was again noticeable, and the likes of the aforementioned Stephen Coen Conor Loftus, Ryan O’Donoghue, Cillian O’Connor and Aidan O’Shea (who made a late cameo appearance around the middle) look ‘mad for road’.
Two trademark O’Connor efforts, and one from Loftus, were ultimately the scores that tipped the balance in Mayo’s favour here after the Rossies had threatened to pull off an ambush with a late rally inspired by a couple of brilliant points from Donie Smith.
Davy Burke’s experimental outfit enjoyed plenty of possession but shot a dozen wides on the night; the Roscommon manager didn’t seem too bothered as he shrugged off the performance and result afterwards.
“It is what it is” he mused.
In truth, Mayo’s mix of youth and experience were deserving winners over a shadow Roscommon selection after an uneventful and low-scoring encounter in front of around 1,500 spectators.
The best (most polite) word to describe the first half is probably ‘cagey’.
Despite scoring just once from play in the opening half — a point from Fionn McDonagh after just 15 seconds — Mayo led at the interval by 0-5 to 0-2.
Both teams sat deep when out of possession, transitioned slowly when they had the ball, and mirrored each other in their defensive mindsets.
The Rossies, and  were slow out of the blocks and struggled to break down Mayo’s force-field around the ‘D’.
In fact, the visitors only opened their account on 21 minutes through Niall Daly and their only other white flag of the half arrived from Diarmuid Murtagh some 17 minutes later.
Down at the other end, the lively Ryan O’Donoghue kept the scoreboard ticking over for Mayo with three clipped frees and a well-taken score from a mark.
The half-time whistle brought some respite for the patrons, many of whom headed out for some fresh air, a coffee, and a trip to the vending machine.
Thankfully, the second half did see the game open up a little as both teams became slightly more adventurous.
The arrival of household names like Donie Smith and Conor Cox into the Roscommon attack also added a much-needed cutting edge with both of them playing key roles in the visitor’s revival.
Likewise, Cillian O’Connor and Aidan O’Shea’s introduction tuned some daydreaming Mayo supporters in again.
Mayo were still setting the pace midway through the second half, leading by 0-10 to 0-6 and keeping their neighbours at arm’s length thanks to excellent scores from play from Conor McStay, captain Stephen Coen and Jordan Flynn.
Roscommon then made things more interesting when Donie Smith landed two superb points in the space of 70 seconds to cut the gap in half.
Mayo also lost full-back Rory Brickenden to a red card as the plot thickened.
But Kevin McStay’s patchwork team held their composure and showed admirable energy to engineer three points down the home stretch to seal the deal.
So the honeymoon continues a little longer for Mayo’s new management team who got to see 36 different players in action across the course of three matches this month, not to mention the experimentation that went on in games behind closed doors.  
Their attention (and everyone else’s) will now turn to the latest local derby with Galway in the first round of the National League next Saturday evening in Castlebar.  
It will be a long way from recent events in ‘The Dome’ in every sense.

C Reape; J Coyne, R Brickenden, E Hession (0-1); S Coen (0-1), C Loftus (0-1), D McHugh; J Flynn (0-1), D O’Connor (0-1, 1f); F McDonagh (0-1), B Tuohy, B Walsh; A Orme, C McStay (0-1), R O’Donoghue (0-3, 2fs, 1 mark).
Subs used: A O’Shea for B Tuohy; E McLaughlin for Walsh; S Callinan for McHugh; P Towey for McStay; C O’Connor (0-2, 1f) for Orme; R Keane for Hession; E Gibbons for O’Donoghue; J Tuohy for Coen; F Kelly for Loftus.

C Carroll; R Dolan, C Hussey, R Fallon; E McCormack, B Stack, C Daly; N Daly (0-1), K Doyle (0-1); C Glennon, C Murtagh, D Ruane; D Murtagh (0-2), C Lennon, P Carey.
Subs used: D Smith (0-2) for C Murtagh;A McDermott for D Murtagh; D Heneghan for Cian Glennon; C Kennelly for Ruane; C Cox (0-2, 1f) for Lennon; C Walsh for Daly; B O’Carroll for Lennon; P McGrath for Fallon; P Gillooly (0-1) for McCormac; D Gaughan for O’Carroll.

Referee: M McGirl (Leitrim)


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