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Ros' left in a daze by Mayo's magic

MAYO 2-13 ROSCOMMON 0-9 Connacht SFC Final SOME 90 minutes after it had ended and a 40th Connacht title was secured the Mayo management were still out on McHale Park putting their under-21 side through their paces ahead of another provincial final on Wednesday night.

At the end of the session John Maughan gathered the balls, bagged them, threw them over his back and casually walked with his selectors, Liam McHale and George Golden, back across the field that had been swarmed earlier by the red and green hordes as Fergal Costello reclaimed the Nestor Cup.

No fuss, no fanfare, no real air of celebration, there was business to tend to and that was it, just as it has been throughout this Connacht championship. Not what you would expect from a manager who had just bridged a five-year gap in provincial titles.

Maughan's demeanour has changed in the years since his last stint as Mayo manager it has reflected on the mechanics and attitude of his team.

They won this final easily playing well below the standards they have set for themselves against Galway. The same template they used here three weeks earlier served them well again. Hard graft in defence, patience in the build up and an attack that revolved around the mesmerising skills of Kieran McDonald, and the Mortimer brothers, Conor and Trevor.

It's easy to believe that this Mayo team will fall the way of their predecessors when they take the road to Dublin in three weeks time. It's a perception that the county has found hard to shake off since the disappointments of the mid 1990s. But it would be a lazy assumption with no real relevance to what has happened in Castlebar yesterday and three weeks ago.

Roscommon manager Tom Carr fell into the trap somewhat earlier in the week when he suggested that Mayo had "confidence bordering on arrogance". We saw strains of confidence alright but nothing that bordered on arrogance. The colour of a player's hair or his gait does not determine the size of his heart.

A potentially hazardous afternoon was skilfully and admirably negotiated and at the end everyone concerned with the success had their feet firmly planted on the ground, none more so than Maughan.

Roscommon had to play four games to get this far (replays against Sligo and Leitrim) and an 11th championship game in 14 months was a battle too far for them.

When the challenge to haul in an eight-point lead presented itself early in the second half they didn't rise to it. Moreover they never looked like it and consequently the game took on that dreaded 'challenge match' feel as thousands streamed out with ten minutes remaining content in the knowledge that Roscommon didn't have the firepower to turn things around.

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It ended bizarrely with hundreds of Mayo supporters streaming on to the field when Mayo's second goal from substitute Austin O'Malley went in a minute into injury-time. They believed the game was over, the public address man urged them to get off the field again, so too did the stewards.

In the meantime players swapped sweaty shirts and handshakes before Brian White decided it was best to call a halt anyway. Roscommon weren't about to complain.

To shake things up in the face of that 1-7 to 0-2 interval deficit Carr made three substitutions, one of which was Ger Heneghan for Frankie Dolan. When you're chasing an eight point lead the one man you surely need lurking around the square is Dolan regardless of how badly he is playing. But Carr had seen enough in the first half and decided on some drastic remedial action.

Judging by the demeanour of his players afterwards they didn't all agree with it and even on the field the towel was thrown in long before it should have been.

Roscommon are capable of better but another trek through the qualifiers is hardly their most palatable option.

They started quite explosively however with Seamus O'Neill putting down an early marker at midfield and he was involved in a brisk move on four minutes that should have yielded a goal as Gary Cox and Karol Mannion linked to put John Tiernan clear. Tiernan shot beat Fintan Ruddy but flashed past the far post. Carr ventured afterwards that it would have settled his team but by the end of the first quarter, pegged at 0-2 each, Roscommon were happier.

It all changed in an instant however. McDonald orchestrated so many great moves all afternoon for Mayo with his radar-like passing but it was his deft 20-metre pass into James Nallen's arms that really stood out and with Nallen laying off to Trevor Mortimer Roscommon were cut wide open as the full-forward smashed a shot past the helpless Shane Curran.

From that point on Mayo moved up the gears. Gary Mullins was hauled off for the much more effective Peadar Gardiner, Nallen, Conor Moran and Gary Ruane really battened down the hatches at the back, while David Brady and James Gill, operating away from his stated right half-forward position, found their rhythm at midfield.

McDonald dictated, the Mortimer boys dovetailed and Roscommon struggled to find a foothold.

Conor Mortimer in particular was a handful and his darting runs posed endless problems for a hard pressed Roscommon full-back line. By the break they had added a further five points to Trevor Mortimer's goal and were looking comfortable.

Nigel Dineen's appearance offered Roscommon a better target at full-forward and they worked well for a while, closing the gap - 1-8 to 0-6 - at one stage.

But it wasn't happening fast enough for the and when Trevor Mortimer ran on to a Ronan McGarrity free and fisted over to re-establish a six point lead Roscommon began to look to the qualifiers.

The remainder was about running down the clock. Conor Mortimer added three points, two from play and Alan Dillon kicked a point to push Mayo out of reach before O'Malley's late goal.

SCORERS - Mayo: C Mortimer 0-9 (6f), T Mortimer 1-1, A O'Malley 1-0, K McDonald, A Dillon (f), C Moran all 0-1 each. Roscommon: G Heneghan 0-5 (5f), J Hanly, F Dolan, N Dineen, S Lohan 0-1 each.

MAYO - F Ruddy 7; C Moran 8, D Heaney 7, G Ruane 7; G Mullins 5, J Nallen 8, F Costello 6; D Brady 8, R McGarrity 7; J Gill 7, K McDonald 8, A Dillon 7; C Mortimer 9, T Mortimer 8, B Maloney 6. Subs: P Gardiner 7 for Mullins (19), P Kelly 6 for Costello (55), A Moran for Dillon (61), A O'Malley for Maloney (65), D Sweeney for C Moran (68).

ROSCOMMON - S Curran 7; J Whyte 7, M Ryan 6, J Nolan 5; D Casey 6, F Grehan 7, A McPadden 6; S O'Neill 7, S Lohan 6; G Cox 7, J Hanly 5, J Tiernan 6; J Dunning 6, K Mannion 5, F Dolan 5. Subs: N Dineen 7 for Dolan (ht), G Heneghan for Hanly (ht), J Rogers for Nolan (ht), D Connellan for Dunning (57), R Cox for Tiernan (61).

REF - B White (Wexford).

Attendance: 34,790.