Zak attack leaves Rossies with no way back

Bord Gais Energy All-Ireland U-21 Hurling ‘B’ Semi-Final: Mayo 0-13 Roscommon 2-6

A tremendous point on the run from a difficult angle 40 metres out from Mayo attacker Zak O’Toole in the final minute of normal time was enough to send the home side into the final at the end of this hard fought clash played in very difficult weather conditions at Elvery’s MacHale Park on Saturday.

  Mayo were just about the better side on the balance of play but Roscommon’s two goals came at vital times and kept them in the game. The strong wind and squally showers ensured that quality hurling was almost impossible; nevertheless this was always an absorbing contest for the 500 or so who were in attendance.

  Mayo were much the stronger side in the opening quarter and they had opened up a 0-4 to 0-1 lead by the 19th minute, with Man of the Match Fergal Boland scoring two frees and Sean Mulroy and Corey Scahill adding points from play. Dylan Keaveney scored Roscommon’s opening point, a free, in the 8th minute.

  But Roscommon improved before the break and Dylan Keaveney’s pointed free in the 24th minute was followed a minute later by an opportunist goal from Jason Martin who booted the ball home from close range. It levelled the scores and less than a minute later Roscommon were ahead when Oisin Hession scored a fine point on the run. David Kenny replied with a Mayo point in the 29th minute before Dylan Keaveney sent Roscommon in at half-time leading by a point when he pointed a ’65 in the second minute of injury-time. Half-time score: Roscommon 1-4 Mayo 0-6.

  Mayo had much more of the possession once again in the second half but they shot a lot of bad wides, and they couldn’t pull away from Roscommon on the scoreboard. Early points from Fergal Boland (free) and David Harrison saw the home side back in the lead by the 38th minute. Then the sides swapped pointed frees from Fergal Boland and Dylan Keaveney before Jason Martin scored a brilliant point from a difficult angle to tie up the scores at 0-9 to 1-6 by the 46th minute.

  Mayo looked to have finally broken the Roscommon resistance when the outstanding Fergal Boland scored two superb points from play in the 49th and 54th minutes. But there was one final kick left in Roscommon.

  In the 57th minute, Tomás Doyle made a searing run down the left wing and his cross was flicked home by Gearóid Keenan for a well-taken goal. Roscommon had not been playing well but they were ahead inside the last two and a half minutes.

  However, Mayo were not to be denied and Fergal Bolan kept his nerve to steer a 65 metre free over in the 58th minute, and with less than 30 seconds of normal time left, Zak O’Toole scored a superb lead point for the Mayo men. Roscommon couldn’t reply and Mayo held out for a dramatic win and a place in the final against Meath.

  A disappointed Roscommon team manager Mike Kilcline said afterwards: “We are disappointed, we thought we could have won it after we scored the second goal but we couldn’t hold out. The long-range free that Mayo got after that goal was crucial. But I am proud of our lads. They turned around a big defeat to Mayo from earlier in the year and it was a huge improvement in a few weeks and I would have liked to have had more time with them. But that’s the way it goes. We got two crucial goals but we needed to drive on after those and it didn’t happen, and the conditions meant that there was going to be nothing in it. The lads have given their all and they are disappointed, but that’s sport. There are good days and bad days,” he concluded.

  Best for Roscommon were Kelvin Kelly in goal, Tomas Treacy, James Fitzmaurice, Dylan Keaveney and Tomás Doyle while for the winners Fergal Boland was superb throughout and David Kenny, Conor Murphy, Zak O’Toole and Sean Mulroy were others who did well.

Mayo: Martin Parsons; Conor Murphy, Mark Phillips, James Lyons; David Harrison (0-1), David Kenny (0-1), Conor Murray; Sean Mulroy (0-1), James Gallagher; Fergal Boland (0-8, 5 frees), Corey Scahill (0-1), Zak O’Toole (0-1); Sam Forde, Abbi Abbasi, Jason Coyne; Subs: Ryan Kilbane for Parsons (h/t), Darragh Gallagher for Abbassi (h/t), Shane Healy for Forde (40).

Roscommon: Kelvin Kelly; Tomas Treacy, Micheal Beirne, Kevin Crehan; Warren Boyle, James Fitzmaurice, Gearóid Egan; Gearóid Keenan (1-0), Cathal Mahony; Eoin Cogavin, Dylan Keaveney (0-4, 3 frees, ’65), Tomás Doyle; Conor Mulry, Jason Martin (1-1), Oisin Hession (0-1). Subs: Brian Lawlor for Mahony (39), Adam Finnerty for Hession (49).

Referee: Rory McGann (Clare)