Mayo heap more misery on 'overrun' Rossies ahead of another date with Dubs
Mayo 1-19 Roscommon 0-14
Given the heartbreak which Dublin have inflicted on Mayo in recent seasons, it would be some consolation if Stephen Rochford's side were the ones to end their 32-match unbeaten streak in league and championship.
With back-to-back league draws this is the most vulnerable that Jim Gavin's All-Ireland champions have been in some time whereas last year's beaten finalists oozed confidence as they went through the gears in a comprehensive defeat of Roscommon on Saturday night.
After trailing 0-3 to 0-1 in the early stages, they kicked ahead with eight points in a row to effectively put the game to bed although the Rossies did have three goal chances before the break with All-Star goalkeeper David Clarke showing his value with two magnificent saves.
They led by six at half-time, 0-11 to 0-5, with Cillian O'Connor in fine fettle and when the Ballintubber attacker dispatched a 39th-minute penalty, it was all she wrote for Kevin McStay's side as the home side finished with 17 points from play in front of 11,657 in Elverys MacHale Park.
Footballer of the Year Lee Keegan and last year's All-Star corner-back Brendan Harrison both returned to kick two points off the bench and will be a welcome addition ahead of Saturday night's trip to Croke Park but Rochford won't be placing too much stock on the opposition.
Their main emphasis is to move onto six points and continue their push for a final place and, while coughing up a number of goal chances against the Rossies will give the Mayo boss plenty of "food for thought", he's confident that they're on a "positive trend".
The same cannot be said for Roscommon, who never got to the pitch of things and sit at the foot of Division 1 with things not getting any easier as they welcome Kerry to Dr Hyde Park on Sunday, quickly followed by a trip to the capital to face the Dubs.
McStay, an All-Star with Mayo, believes his young side were blown away by his native county's athleticism although he feels they should have no problem bouncing back despite a host of top players opting out of his squad for a variety of reasons.
"We built up towards this Mayo game and thought we could really get very close to them and ask a few questions but on the night we were just overpowered and overrun, it's a steep learning curve," he said.
"Power, complete power," McStay said when asked what the principal difference was between the sides. "In a football sense we're well able to score and create opportunities but just the conditioning, the five-six years of conditioning they have.
"Their fitness levels are well ahead of where we are and when you have that extra power you just drive out of defence, there's no hand being laid on you and pretty much they were doing as they pleased with 20 minutes to go.
"We're realists, we knew this was going to be an uphill struggle for us but every game is still important to us, there's plenty of learning to be done in these games.
"They're a young team and they'll bounce back, this is one of the tough lessons that you get on the route, that's just life. Our job is to raise their heads again and there won't be any issue there, we'll get back up on the horse Tuesday night and get ready for Kerry."
Mayo spurned four good scoring chances in the opening minutes before Shane Killoran was on target at the other end as the Rossies made good use of limited opportunities to go into an early lead. Fintan Cregg's eighth-minute point was their last for 22 minutes, however, as Jason Gibbons and Diarmuid O'Connor lorded affairs in the middle of the park collecting kick-outs at ease.
Cillian O'Connor, playing at No 11, hit two long-distance efforts and nearly lobbed Colm Lavin after a stray kick-out while Fergal Boland fired over two super scores before Gibbons and the O'Connor brothers left them six ahead, 0-9 to 0-3.
Keegan replaced Colm Boyle when the Davitts defender was black-carded for obstruction before Donie Smith broke Roscommon's barren spell and Ciaran Murtagh chipped in to close the gap to four.
Enda and Donie Smith, as well as Sean Mullooly, would all spurn goal opportunities before half-time, however, with Clarke thwarting their efforts and points from Donal Vaughan and Conor O'Shea left them six up at the break, 0-11 to 0-5.
O'Connor coolly slotted away a penalty after Evan Regan was hauled down and game petered out as a contest thereafter with Mayo in cruise control but Conor Devaney did offer some resistance with three points to cut the gap, 1-13 to 0-9.
The Smith brothers kept plugging away but with Keegan, Harrison and Conor Loftus impressing, Mayo coasted to victory ahead of another date with the Dubs.
Scorers - Mayo: C O'Connor 1-4 (1-0 pen, 1f), F Boland, L Keegan, B Harrison and C Loftus 0-2 each, C O'Shea, K McLoughlin, D Vaughan, D O'Connor, A Moran, J Gibbons and E Regan (f) 0-1 each. Roscommon: C Devaney and D Smith 0-3, C Murtagh and E Smith 0-2 each, T Corcoran, S Killoran, F Cregg and N Kilroy 0-1 each.
Mayo -D Clarke 9; D Newcombe 6, K Higgins 7, D Vaughan 6; C Boyle 6, P Durcan 7, S Coen 6; J Gibbons 8, D O'Connor 8; C O'Shea 6, C O'Connor 8, F Boland 7; K McLoughlin 6, A Moran 7, E Regan 6. Subs: L Keegan 8 for Boyle (BC 29), C Loftus 7 for Moran (51), B Harrison 8 for Vaughan (53), S Nally 6 for Boland (55), M Plunkett 6 for O'Shea (55), L Irwin for Regan (66).
Roscommon - C Lavin 6; D Murray 6, N McInerney 6, S McDermott 7; R Stack 6, S Mullooly 7, J McManus 6; S Killoran 6, T O'Rourke 6; E Smith 7, C Murtagh 6, F Cregg 6; D Smith 8, T Corcoran 6, C Devaney 8. Subs: C Cafferkey 6 for Killoran (BC 25), K Higgins 6 for Cregg (44), G Patterson 6 for McDermott (54), N Kilroy 7 for Stack (59), B Murtagh 6 for Devaney (62), C Connolly for D Smith (67).
Ref - J McQuillan (Cavan)