U-20s claim Connacht title with thrilling display

Eirgrid Connacht U-20 FC Final

Roscommon 2-11 Mayo 1-7   

When Roscommon players, management and followers trudged out of Tuam Stadium after a 20-point beating against Galway on the 7th March 2020 in the Connacht final, not too many would have expected that the 2021 U-20 side would go to Castlebar and comfortably defeat Mayo in the 2021 provincial decider. However, that’s what happened at balmy Elvery’s MacHale Park last night (Wednesday).

This was a superb Roscommon display, the win a badly-needed boost to football in the county after the disappointment of the seniors’ recent defeat. What a pity there were only 500 people there to see it live. Once again it was a super attacking display from Roscommon as they proved far too good for Mayo.

A superb third quarter display was the key as Roscommon outscored the home side by 2-5 to 0-1, coasting to a thoroughly deserved victory. Goals from Adam McDermott and James Fitzpatrick were key as the Roscommon attack prospered in the sunshine.

The opening quarter belonged totally to Mayo. They dominated possession but failed to make it count. Points from Jack Carney, Jack Mahon (free) and Conall Dempsey saw them three ahead by the 11th minute. It should have been at least double that.

Roscommon got into the game after the water break, kicking five points in a row. James Fitzpatrick, Darragh Heneghan and Ben O’Carroll were on target from play to tie up the scores by the 24th minute.

When Fitzpatrick pulled first time to point (a goal chance) and Daire Cregg kicked a super score from 35 metres, Liam Tully’s men were two ahead by the 29th minute. Jack Carney scored Mayo’s first point for 20 minutes in injury-time to send the sides in at half-time with the score Roscommon 0-5 Mayo 0-4.

Roscommon totally dominated after the break. Keith Doyle and Ruaidhri Fallon were winning plenty of ball in the middle of the field and the scores began to flow. James Fitzpatrick, Daire Cregg, Ben O’Carroll and Adam McDermott were outstanding.

  In the 42nd minute McDermott robbed James Dunleavy and crashed home a great goal and when Fitzpatrick followed up with a superb solo effort in the 54th minute Roscommon led by 2-10 to 0-5 and now their name was on the cup.

Mayo did miss a 46th minute penalty after Colin Walsh had received a black card for a foul on Conall Dempsey. Jack Mahon’s spot-kick was saved by Conor Carroll.

  Mayo scored a consolation goal in the final minute of normal time when Dempsey converted a penalty but the night belonged to Roscommon. This will go down as one of the most memorable Connacht Championship wins at any grade in recent years.

Roscommon: Conor Carroll; Conor Lohan, Colin Walsh, Dylan Gaughan; Patrick Gavin, Tomas Crean, Cian Glennon; Keith Doyle, Ronan Garvin; Robbie Dolan, James Fitzpatrick (1-3), Daire Cregg (0-5, 3 frees); Ben O’Carroll (0-1), Adam McDermott (1-1), Darragh Heneghan (0-1). Subs: Ruaidhri Fallon for Garvin (h/t), Jason Doory for Heneghan (40), Jack Lohan for Glennon (46), David Wynne for Crean (47), Sean Trundle for McDermott (59).

Mayo: Ronan Connolly; Sean Holmes (0-1), Ruairí Keane, Donnacha McHugh; Conor Flynn, Ryan Baynes, Aidan Cosgrove; Conor Dunleavy, Jack Carney (0-2); Ethan Henry, Conor Reid, Connell Dempsey (1-2, 1 free, pen); Ultan O’Reilly, Frank Irwin, Jack Mahon (0-1). Subs: Paddy Heneghan for O’Reilly (h/t), Dylan Thornton for Reid (32), Ewan Duffy for McHugh (42), Owen McHale (0-1) for Cosgrove (52).

Referee: Thomas Murphy (Galway).