Roscommon 4-12 -
By Ian Cooney
Where to start? Sometimes, miracles really do happen as Roscommon’s minor footballers dusted themselves down from their trimming against Galway seven days earlier to inflict similar misery on Mayo in Kiltoom on Friday evening. The fearlessness of youth ensured that the 22-point mauling against the Tribesmen didn’t leave a lasting imprint. Instead, the response was everything manager Paul Staunton would have hoped for as Roscommon catapulted themselves back into contention for a place in the provincial final with a performance that did justice to this team’s potential.
What’s more, not only did they beat Mayo, they devoured them with a brand of swashbuckling football that was lapped up by the home side’s supporters. Roscommon won by 13 points and missed at least another three clearcut goal chances. Mayo goalkeeper Ronan Connolly was magnificent. Yet he ended up being beaten four times as wave after wave of Roscommon attacks eventually reaped a handsome dividend.
Just as plenty of head scratching resulted from events at Tuam Stadium, a win of this magnitude doesn’t guarantee prosperity later this summer. Consistency will be required against Leitrim and Sligo when the competition resumes after the Leaving Cert. But at least Roscommon are back in the ball game in the knowledge that much of the damage done against Galway has been repaired.
From the opening whistle, Roscommon quickly set about negotiating the pitfalls on the road to redemption. Led by the brilliance of Shane Cunnane, they took the game to Mayo. The St. Brigid’s midfielder was superb, dominating the middle of the park alongside the hard-working Enda Crawley. He kicked some fine frees and added a sumptuous point from the play with the outside of his right boot.
Then, in the second half, when Roscommon needed a killer instinct to put the game to bed, up stepped Adam McDermott. The young Castlerea full-forward ended up with a personally tally of 3-2, and his third goal to confirm his hat-trick was worth the admission money alone.
But there were other heroes as Roscommon’s platform was erected in the half-back like where Robbie Dolan, Ruaidhri Fallon and Jack Lohan were superb. Goalkeeper Daniel Connolly was hitting his targets with his kickouts and livewires James Fitzpatrick, McDermott and Fearghus Lennon were seeing far more possession in the full-forward line as Roscommon stitched some delightful moves together.
Meanwhile, Mayo played in fits and starts and depended on the accuracy of Enda Hession for the bulk of their scores.
Cunnane and Hession swapped early frees before Mayo wing-forward Lee Traynor nudged his side in front. Roscommon were back on level terms when Cunnane kicked a brilliant score in the sixth minute. Then Connolly denied Dolan, although there was some consolation for the hosts when McDermott fisted Cunnane’s resultant ’45 over the bar.
Cunnane tagged on another free before Crawley made significant headway through the heart of the Mayo defence before splitting the posts. Connolly thwarted Dolan for a second time before Cunnane and McDermott, after latching on to a superb diagonal ball from Crawley, opened up a 0-6 to 0-2 advantage after 16 minutes.
By the midway mark, Roscommon were 0-9 to 0-5 in front. Mayo gained some traction through a point from Martin Ball and a couple of frees from Hession, while Cunnane (a free) and Aaron McDermott kept the scoreboard ticking over for the hosts.
Just over a minute into the second half, the crucial breakthrough arrived when Cunnane intercepted Mayo possession and sent Fitzpatrick racing through on goal for a calm finish.
Hession replied with a free but Roscommon’s second goal soon arrived. Dolan was foiled for a third time by Connolly but McDermott palmed the rebound into the net to leave the hosts firmly in control.
McDermott grabbed a second goal in the 47th minute but he saved his best ‘til last as he left the Mayo rearguard for deal before finding the bottom corner of the net with aplomb with four minutes remaining.
Liam Óg Horkan never threw in the towel for Mayo but all they had to show for their efforts were scores by Hession, Ball, Conor Dunleavy and Frank Irwin.
Connolly prevented a fifth goal when he pushed away Fitzpatrick’s drive but points from Liam Ormsby and Cunnane (one free and ’45) left Roscommon in total control by the finish.
What a difference a week makes.
ROSCOMMON: D. Connolly; C. Brogan, D. Murray, K. Gunning; R. Dolan, R. Fallon, J. Lohan; E. Crawley (0-1), S. Cunnane (0-7, four frees, one ’45); Aaron McDermott (0-1), L. Ormsby (0-1), R. Walsh; F. Lennon, Adam McDermott (3-2), J. Fitzpatrick (1-0). Subs used: E. Derwin for Aaron McDermott (52 mins), C. Carthy for Walsh (55 mins), N. Moran for Crawley (56 mins), J. Doory for Adam McDermott (57 mins), D. Wynne for Ormsby (57 mins), D. Farrell for Cunnane (60 mins).
MAYO: R. Connolly; S. Holmes, E. McHale, A. Cosgrove; R. Keane, L. Óg Horkan, C. Dunleavy (0-1); J. Carney, H. Burke; F. Irwin (0-1), U. O’Reilly, L. Traynor (0-1); M. Ball (0-2), F. Ryan, E. Hession (0-6, five frees). Subs used: E. Ivers for Traynor (14 mins), E. Henry for O’Reilly (27 mins), L. Dawson for Holmes (half-time), L. O’Donoghue for McHale (39 mins), C. Mylett for Burke (43 mins), P. Timlin for Ivers (55 mins).
Wides: Roscommon – 5; Mayo – 10.
Yellow Cards: Roscommon – Fallon (33 mins), Gunning (49 mins); Mayo – Holmes (14 mins), Ivers (40 mins).
Black Cards: Roscommon – none; Mayo – none.
Red Cards: Roscommon – none; Mayo – none.
Referee: J. Molloy (Galway).
Player of the Match: Adam McDermott and Shane Cunnane (Roscommon).
It would unfair to single out one player over the other, given the influence both protagonists exerted on proceedings.
McDermott’s second-half hat-trick of goals was memorable, particularly his third three-pointer when he outpaced the Mayo defence and planted the ball emphatically into the corner of the net for as good a goal as any Roscommon player will score in 2018.
Cunnane was simply immense throughout. Restored to midfield, the St. Brigid’s player bossed the contest from pillar to post — kicking his frees and generally working himself to a standstill. Everything he did was laced with class.
Daniel Connolly’s kickouts were on the money. Cathal Brogan, Robbie Dolan, Ruaidhri Fallon, Jack Lohan, Enda Crawley and James Fitzpatrick were also influential for the winners.
Centre-back Liam Óg Horkan was Mayo’s best player. He received good support at times from Jack Carney, Frank Irwin, Martin Ball and Enda Hession.