Eirgrid Connacht U-20 football championship final
ROSCOMMON 2-11 MAYO 1-7
Kevin Egan at MacHale Park
Roscommon won their first Connacht U-20 football championship since the competition moved to that age grade, after a devastating performance against Mayo at MacHale Park this evening.
Second half goals from James Fitzpatrick and Adam McDermott will go down as the crucial scores that made sure of the victory, but once Liam Tully’s young side found their scoring rhythm after a scoreless first quarter, they never looked like losing control of this contest.
A series of early wides for both sides led to a very low scoring first quarter that ended with Mayo leading 0-3 to 0-0, but a fine score from Fitzpatrick got the Rossies of the mark with the first attack after the restart. Roscommon went on to kick five in a row, with Daire Cregg, Ben O’Carroll and Darragh Heneghan all on the mark, while at both ends there were goals ruled out for square ball, with Adam McDermott’s much more of a close call than Jack Mahon’s for Mayo.
0-5 to 0-4 at half time left the game finely poised but the boys in primrose and blue carried on where they left off after the restart, posting the first score through Adam McDermott and continuing to build on a platform of defensive dominance. Mayo shot 12 wides over the course of the game, but even more than this, they spilled a lot of turnovers due to incredible tackling by the Roscommon defensive unit, led by Conor Lohan and Colin Walsh.
A narrow 0-6 to 0-5 lead was built on with two points from Daire Cregg, before Adam McDermott set Roscommon on course for victory by dispossessing a Mayo defender and slipping in the game’s first goal on 42 minutes. Mayo had the chance to respond in kind when Colin Walsh was deemed to have tripped Connell Dempsey under a high ball, leading to a black card for the Roscommon captain, but a superb save from Conor Carroll to tip Jack Mahon’s spot kick around the post preserved Roscommon’s lead.
James Fitzpatrick fired over the next score at the end of an excellent run and Roscommon crowned a run of 2-4 without reply when McDermott again robbed a Mayo defender, this time setting up James Fitzpatrick for a second goal with ten minutes to play.
Mayo rallied in the final ten minutes and found the net through another penalty, this time converted by Dempsey, but Roscommon’s defence never looked like coughing up a goal chance other than that and easily held out to set up an All-Ireland semi-final clash with the Ulster champions in just over two weeks’ time.