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Rossies' missed chance as Mayo meander

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Roscommon’s Sean Mullooly and Mayo’s Aidan O’Shea battle for the ball during the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship quarter-final at Croke Park. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Roscommon’s Sean Mullooly and Mayo’s Aidan O’Shea battle for the ball during the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship quarter-final at Croke Park. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Roscommon’s Sean Mullooly and Mayo’s Aidan O’Shea battle for the ball during the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship quarter-final at Croke Park. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Kerry must wait to see who they will face in this year's All-Ireland semi-final after Roscommon and Mayo couldn't be separated after a very interesting game which was high on effort and commitment but distinctly low on quality.

It was a game that both managers will look back on with some regret but they'll also be delighted to be back at training tomorrow evening and still in with a fair shout of getting to the last four.

There were plenty of questions for this Mayo team to answer before the game about their decline and those questions are still to be answered but you have to admire their never say die attitude and their willingness to work hard right to the final whistle.

It is a quality that you don't get in too many teams and has enabled them to be ultra-competitive over a long number of years.

Yesterday they were hit with a couple of hammer blows early in the game and trailed by seven points with about 12 minutes played but they never panicked and were able to drag themselves back into the game and actually go in at the break two points to the good.

They can thank Lee Keegan and Colm Boyle for steadying the ship with Keegan at his brilliant best, kicking a goal and three points from play while doing a splendid marking job on Roscommon danger man Enda Smith.

His goal came one minute after Ciarán Murtagh scored his team's second goal, and for me, this was the score that got Mayo into the game at a time when they were being overrun.

Roscommon, who were playing front-foot football were guilty of sitting back and they paid the price.

While Mayo kicked on and scored the next six points their opponents could only manage one more point just before the break and at that stage the result looked inevitable.

Kevin McStay made a very shrewd positional switch before the throw-in for the second half with Enda Smith taking up residence at the edge of the square and with Keegan detailed to follow him everywhere it meant that Mayo missed their best attacking option for most of the second period.

Roscommon were able to get themselves right back in the game with three quick points to lead again and at that stage I felt that the game was certainly there for them to go and grab it with both hands.

Despite opportunities they could never manage to go more than a single point ahead but perhaps Mayo had the clearer cut chances to win the game with Cillian O'Connor snatching at a couple and Paddy Durcan missing one that he would expect to get.

It is, and has always been, a problem with this Mayo team and unless they sort out the forward line I can't see them winning this year's All-Ireland. In the first half the forwards only contributed four points in total and the second half it was just two points and that has been their Achilles heel for years.

I was expecting a top-class performance from Mayo but yesterday far too many players underperformed. Against a better team their championship season would surely be over but they continue to fight and are still there despite everything.

Roscommon came with a game plan and with great energy. They will feel that this was one that they could have won but I think they will need to bring something different the next day.

It will be another huge game with a big attendance but I think it just might be the end for Roscommon.


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