Mayo too strong for hurlers

  National Hurling League Division 2A Mayo                     2-17 Roscommon           0-9    Roscommon hurlers are facing the prospect of Division Three hurling next season after this very disappointing performance in Athleague last Saturday. It would be a real pity if, after winning the Division 3 title in such style last year, the team were to go straight back down again. The final game of the league will be against Wicklow in Aughrim next Sunday and it is now a ‘must win’ game for the team.   Roscommon had a double setback even before the game started with the withdrawal of captain Liam Murray and Shane Sweeney who were unavoidably absent.   Mayo signalled their ambition early with two quick points from Niall Murphy and Keith Higgins. However by the 19th minute Roscommon had taken the lead with two Shane Curley frees and a nice point from full-forward Kevin Conneally. Keith Higgins levelled the scores before Brendan Kelly pointed Roscommon into the lead the 24th minute.   Derek McConn, son of Roscommon manager David McConn, levelled the scores for Mayo with a nice point from play. Then Mayo struck four points on the trot from Adrian Freeman, Keith Higgins, Stephen Broderick and Pearse Higgins to establish a lead.   However Roscommon were still in it and Gerry Fallon’s free and a ’65 from Michael Kelly reduced the margin to two just before half-time to leave it 0-8 to 0-6 at the interval. However the writing was on the wall as Roscommon had to face into the strong wind in the second half.   Mayo’s confidence that they would win was signalled at half-time when they substituted Keith Higgins who would be playing with their footballers against Kerry in Castlebar the following day.   Two quick points from Adrian Freeman restored their four-point advantage. Michael Kelly did get a point back for Roscommon with a free but then Mayo scored 1-3 without reply. Freeman pointed before McConn broke his father’s heart again, this time with a well-taken goal and two further points from Mayo saw them lead by 1-13 to 0-6 with 13 minutes gone.   Mervyn Connaughton scored a good point for Roscommon but there was no stopping Mayo at this stage. The green and red scored two more points before Michael Kelly scored Roscommon’s final point of the game but unfortunately for the home side Mayo were not finished yet. Enda Collins scored a good goal from close-range and a point from Pearse Higgins completed the demolition job.   Roscommon will hopefully have a stronger squad available for the long trip to Aughrim on Sunday. A victory might throw them a slim lifeline while a defeat will bring about a relegation play-off.   On Saturday last Mayo’s first touch and ground hurling was much better on the day and let’s hope that Roscommon can improve in those areas in next Sunday’s game. Roscommon: David Connell; David Loughnane, Colm Moran, Alan Creavin; David Delaney, Michael Kelly (0-3), Kenny Doolin; Mervyn Connaughton (0-1), Gerry Fallon (0-1); John Moran, Keith McDermott, Brendan Kelly (0-1); Shane Curley (0-2), Kevin Conneally (0-1), Tomas Seale. Subs: Liam Casey for Curley, Alan Kelly for Seale. Mayo: Michael Walsh; Shane Morley, Aidan Connolly, Stephen Coyne;   Seamus Barrett, Paddy Barrett, Conor Ryan; Pearse Higgins (0-2), Derek McConn (1-1); Keith Higgins (0-3), Derek McDonnell, Stephen Broderick (0-1); Niall Murphy (0-1), Adrian Freeman (0-6), Ciaran Hynes (0-1). Subs: D Gallagher (0-1), E Madigan (0-1), P Hunt, E Collins (1-0), S Leneghan. Referee: Pat Greene (Galway).