Hanley and Moran lead rout

Connacht U-21 Football Final Mayo     1-22 Roscommon 1-8 Roscommon’s hope of landing a Connacht U-21 football championship title were well and truly dashed by a rampant Mayo side who started well and finished even better in this very one-sided final played in beautiful weather conditions at McHale Park, Castlebar on Saturday last.   Roscommon supporters in the 2,500 crowd travelled with high hopes after a good win over Sligo in the semi-final but defending All-Ireland champions Mayo brushed the challengers aside in very impressive fashion and if they can maintain this form it will take a very good team to deny them a second All-Ireland title in a row at this level.   Roscommon did well in fits and starts but Mayo were simply too strong in many positions around the field and backboned by many of the players who brought minor glory to the county last year Roscommon were not  physically strong enough in many sectors.   Roscommon’s best spell came in the ten minutes before half-time when they whittled a nine-point lead down to four but it only galvanised Mayo into further effort and they pulled away into the distance long before the final whistle.   Roscommon’s problems at midfield outlined here last week during the semi-final win over Sligo were again apparent but there were more problems than that as the Mayo attack ran riot against a faltering Roscommon defence.   The Roscommon attack did reasonalbly well over the hour but as in all games of gaelic football you cannot do any scoring if you are not getting the ball and that’s the way it went for most of last Saturday.   There were three goal chances for Roscommon in the second half but even if all three were converted it would not have altered the outcome such was the gulf in class between the two teams.   The excellent Pierce Hanley, who led the Roscommon defence a merry dance all through, struck for a point as early as the 30-second mark when he converted from 20 metres. It set the tone for the game.   Adrian Campbell followed up with another Mayo point from a free after three minutes before Conor Devanney struck an excellent point for Ros’ in the 4th minute. But Hanley and Campbell struck inside the next two minutes to leave it 0-4 to 0-1 and in the 8th minute the home side pounced for a brilliant goal.   Roscommon lost the ball seventy yards from their goal and Mayo midfielder Tom Parsons waltzed through the Roscommon  defence before blasting a great shot past Colin Nicholson. John Collins was on target with a Roscommon point from close range a minute later but it was brief respite for the Rossies.   Hanley struck three points in a row for Mayo and suddenly it was 1-7 to 0-2.   Conor Devanney pointed a 25 metre free in the 18th minute but brilliant midfielder Barry Moran and Campbell re-asserted Mayo’s dominance with further points before Roscommon gave their big following something to shout about before half-time. David O’Gara pointed from close range before Cathal Cregg scrambled the ball to the Mayo net after good work from David Keenan, Enda Kenny and Conor Devanney in the 27th minute and when Devaney kicked a lovely point from play a minute later Roscommon were only four points behind.   Mayo full-forward Andy Hanley kicked a point on the stroke of half-time that looked at least a yard wide. At half-time Mayo led by 1-10 to 1-5.   There was further hope for Roscommon on the re-start when team captain David Hoey pointed from 30 metres after a good run however it was to be a false dawn for Roscommon as Mayo proceeded to run riot after that.   Led by Moran, Hanley and Campbell the home side drove forward and Roscommon simply had no answer. The ball was sailing over the Roscommon crossbar at a rate of almost once every two minutes as the Mayo attack kept the scoreboard operators busy.   Roscommon did  have a couple of missed goal chances but it was only cosmetic as Mayo crushed Roscommon’s challenge with consummate ease.   Hanley finished with nine points and Campbell with five and all their forwards bar one got in on the scoring act.   The only chink in the Mayo armour was their full-back line which looked shaky any time Roscommon got inside but that was so seldom that one could not judge just how good (or bad) they were. I’m sure harder tests will come for them later in this competition.   For Roscommon it was a harsh lesson in the pecking order of Connacht football at this level. However I am still of the view that if we can hold on to the young players who were on the minor team that won the All-Ireland last year they will be able to compete at this level with the Galways and Mayos of this world next year and especially in two years time.   However in this game Roscommon were totally overwhelmed. Stephen Ormsby did reasonably well in defence as did Adrian Murtagh. Midfield was not a very productive area for Roscommon again on Saturday and we were well beaten in that sector. Up front Cathal Cregg did well as did Conor Devanney who looked dangerous every time he got the ball. However this was a match that Roscommon players, fans and management would rather forget in a hurry. Mayo: Michael McNulty; Alan Joyce, Ger Cafferkey, David Kilcullen (0-1); Chris Barrett, Tom Cunniffe (0-1), Colm Boyle; Barry Moran (0-2), Tom Parsons (1-0); Aidan Campbell (0-5, 1 free, 1 ’45), Pierce Hanley (0-9, 4 frees), Adrian McManaman (0-1); Brian Benson, Andy Hanley (0-2), Mark Ronaldson (0-1). Subs: James Burke for Boyle, Enda Varley for Benson, Seamus O’Shea for Hanley, Ronan Rochford for Joyce. Roscommon: Colin Nicholson; Tom Bannon, Michael Killilea, Stephen Ormsby; Sean Higgins, Peter Domican, Adrian Murtagh; David Hoey, Richard Dooner; Cathal Cregg (1-0), David O’Gara (0-1), David Keenan; Conor Devanney (0-5, 3 frees), Enda Kenny, John Collins (0-1). Subs: David Flynn for Killilea, Aidan Dooney for Collins, Ronan Brady for Higgins.   Referee: Eamon O’Grady (Leitrim).  Match at a glance MAN OF THE MATCH: Mayo hade several candidates such was their dominance. Pierce Hanley scored nine points in a brilliant display but the award goes to Barry Moran who ran the show at midfield. He is a young man that we will be hearing about in the very near future at senior level. WEATHER: A beautiful warm evening. CROWD: 2,500 approximately, at least half of whom were from Roscommon. Another sad journey home for the Primrose and Blue.  ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: Low because of the one-sided nature of the game, but Mayo were a joy to watch. REFEREE: The game was so one-sided there was very little for Eamonn O’Grady to do.