Rossies make themselves feel at home in Castlebar

Roscommon take venue switch in stride

FBD Connacht Senior Football League Roscommon 0-13 Mayo 0-10

Defending champions Roscommon have qualified for the final of the FBD League for the second year in a row following this deserved win against old rivals Mayo last Sunday at McHale Park.

   It took Roscommon almost 30 years to defeat Mayo in a competitive game in Castlebar – achieved last year – and now they have succeeded again one year on. Roscommon prevailed in a game that was switched from its original venue, Hyde Park in Roscommon.

  However, before any Roscommon supporters get carried away, Mayo were very poor on the day and you got the distinct impression that this defeat did not cause them any anxiety at all. They were short many of their star names (in fact Aidan O’Shea was tweeting from Anfield during the game!) and they lost Keith Higgins with a nasty-looking knee injury after only six  minutes.

  But in fairness to what was another experimental Roscommon side, they started well and got their noses in front and played some enterprising football throughout. Once again a feature of the Roscommon display was their work ethic and the hard graft of all the players paid dividends on the day.

  In truth this was like a slow bicycle race. Neither side were that bothered whether they won or not and as Roscommon joint manager Kevin McStay said after the game, getting to the FBD League Final was ”not in the plan” – but now they are there it is another chance for the players to show what they can do ahead of what will be a massive opening league game against Monaghan in two weeks’ time.

  In a game played on a dark, cold and wet day, and before a very good crowd of 3,849, it was Roscommon who started best. By the 12th minute they were 0-4 to 0-0 ahead. Diarmuid Murtagh, Neil Collins, Fintan Cregg and Cathal Cregg (with a superb effort) were the Roscommon scorers. Then Mayo scored three on the trot through Conor Loftus (free), Mark Ronaldson and Keith Rutledge. Two fine points from Cathal Cregg helped Roscommon into a 0-6 to 0-4 half-time lead.

  Roscommon were struggling at times in midfield but the hard work of the defence ensured that Mayo chances were few and far between as Seanie McDermott and Niall McInerney kept the back door closed in impressive fashion. Early second-half points from Ciaran Murtagh (free) and another from Enda Smith after a rampaging run up the middle, saw the visitors four to the good by the 34th minute (0-8 to 0-4).

  Mayo did rally briefly but then a surge of scores from Roscommon left them 0-13 to 0-8 ahead after 53 minutes. Ciaran Murtagh (2 frees), Senan Kilbride, Niall Daly and Diarmuid Murtagh were the Roscommon scorers. Mayo did hit back with two late points from Jason Doherty (2 frees), but Roscommon held out for a comfortable win.

  Roscommon were best served on the day by Seanie McDermott, Niall McInerney, Niall Daly, Fintan Cregg, Cathal Cregg and Diarmuid Murtagh, but there were still some problems with the midfield area, and with some of the kick-outs as well, but overall there was a huge level of work rate amongst all the Roscommon players.

  As for Mayo, with most of their star players either sitting in the stand watching, or elsewhere, they will not be too put out at this defeat as they have far bigger fish to fry later on in 2016.

Roscommon: Geoffrey Claffey; Niall McInerney, Neil Collins (0-1), Ronan Stack; Seanie McDermott, Niall Daly (0-1), Conor Daly; Enda Smith (0-1), Ian Kilbride; Fintan Cregg (0-1), Ciaran Murtagh (0-3, frees), Ronan Daly; Senan Kilbride (0-1), Cathal Cregg (0-3), Diarmuid Murtagh (0-2, 1 free). Subs: Brian Murtagh for N Daly (46), Scott Oates for D Murtagh (56), Kieran Kilcline for F Cregg (56), Gary Patterson for Stack (57).

Mayo: Rob Hennelly; Ger Cafferky, Kevin Keane, Padraig O’Hora; Keith Higgins, Caolain Crowe, Colm Boyle; Tom Parsons, Jason Gibbons; Donal Vaughan, Mark Ronaldson, Darren McHale; Keith Rutledge, Jason Doherty, Conor Loftus. Subs: Lee Keegan for Higgins (6), Shane McHale for Keane 18), Diarmuid O’Connor for Rutledge (44), Shane Nally for Boyle (49), Brendan Harrisson for O’Hora (52).

Referee: John Gilmartin (Sligo).

Wides: Roscommon 4 Mayo 5

Black cards: None

Yellow cards: Roscommon 1 (Cathal Cregg); Mayo 2 (Padraig O’Hora, Lee Keegan)

Attendance: 3,849