Burke targets Tralee triumph

Mayo survive Roscommon comeback to win Hyde encounter

Allianz National Football League Division One: Mayo 1-16 Roscommon 2-11

Roscommon’s Niall Daly and Mayo’s Fionn McDonagh get tangled up during last Sunday’s Allianz Football League Division One match in Dr. Hyde Park. Pic: Bernie O’Farrell

Davy Burke believes one more point may be required to ensure Roscommon retain their Division One status – and he’d prefer not to be scrambling for it in the last game of the campaign! So, it’s Operation Tralee!

After last Sunday’s defeat to Mayo, Burke emphasised that Roscommon will travel to play All-Ireland champions Kerry on Saturday week with the clear aim of trying to secure two points.

Last weekend, Roscommon suffered their second successive league defeat, another rousing second-half display from Davy Burke’s team just failing to pay off as Mayo held on to win by two points in front of a huge crowd at Dr Hyde Park.

Having been totally off the pace in the first half, Roscommon – then two points behind – could have stolen it at the death when Ben O’Carroll’s shot in the 7th minute of injury-time was blocked by Diarmuid O’Connor. Mayo had survived. Given the balance of play, Roscommon wouldn’t have deserved to win, but it was a nervy finale for the visitors.

Given that his side trailed 0-7 to 0-0 at one stage, Burke was disappointed with Roscommon’s poor first-half showing – but encouraged by what followed.

Ciaráin Murtagh scores the first point of the second half in last Sunday’s Allianz Football League Division One match against Mayo in Dr. Hyde Park. Pic: Bernie O’Farrell

“It wasn’t a good start. You’re giving yourself a mountain to climb straight away. I was delighted with the depth (of the squad) though. Donie (Smith) made a big difference and won a lot of ball. Conor Cox and Daire Cregg did well. Ciaráin Murtagh changed the whole thing for us when he came on”.

Mayo manager Kevin McStay also reflected on  how the game ebbed and flowed late on.

“I felt we had it tidied up a few times, but we gave Roscommon opportunities and they took them. Two great goals, I have to say, and that rocked us a bit. I think we regained our composure and played it out in the end.

“I suppose if you are being clinical about it, we came up for two points…and we’re going home with them now”.

As to all the talk of shadow boxing ahead of next month’s championship meeting between the sides, McStay claimed he had yet to give that game much thought!

“I’m going to be absolutely honest – we haven’t even thought of the championship, other than we know Roscommon are there waiting for us. In terms of prep for it, the only thing we’ve put down is as good a pre-season as we’ve ever had, getting the boys well conditioned and ready to play robust and serious National League matches, which I think we’ve done. And after that, we’ve just gone week to week.

“You see the crowds that are coming to these matches, you see the atmosphere around them. You have to prep and get ready for them. Honestly, other than I know when it is – Easter Sunday – and I know who we’re playing, we haven’t even looked at it”.

Davy Burke also addressed the April fixture. “Were Mayo showing their full hand today? Were Roscommon showing their full hand today? There’s lots of stuff at play here and yet it went down to a kick of the ball”.

Mayo were dominant in a disappointing opening half last Sunday. Roscommon’s kick-outs were poor, and a lot of possession was squandered. Mayo were coasting, Kevin McStay’s men 0-7 to 0-0 ahead by the 18th minute.

Diarmuid Murtagh kicked two points (one a free) to get Roscommon off the mark, but by half-time Mayo led 0-9 to 0-4.

Roscommon showed much more energy in the second half, with the arrival of Ciaráin Murtagh off the bench a key factor. However, the concession of a very soft goal in the 48th minute seemed to hand Mayo a path to a comfortable victory. When Colin Walsh played an errant handpass, Jack Carney pounced and shot to the unguarded net, putting Mayo 1-12 to 0-7 ahead.

Still, Roscommon were improving. Daire Cregg and Tadhg O’Rourke pointed, before the outstanding Enda Smith stormed through the Mayo rearguard in the 55th minute to score a great goal. The margin was down to three.

In the 63rd minute Ryan O’Donoghue set up Tommy Conroy for a Mayo goal, but his fisted effort struck the crossbar. Another lifeline for the home side. James Carr and Ciaráin Murtagh exchanged points, then in the 71st minute Brian Stack and Enda Smith set up sub Conor Cox and he blasted home a great goal. Just a point in it now.

Matthew Ruane steadied the Mayo ship with a point in the 73rd minute and the drama continued until the final seconds when O’Carroll’s shot was cleared by the Mayo defence.

At the final whistle, Davy Burke was already looking to Tralee on Saturday week. “We need another point to be sure (of staying up). So we’ll be going to Kerry to win the game”.