Tuesday 23 January 2018

Mayo and Roscommon set for Bank Holiday Monday replay after frantic finish fails to produce a winner

Mayo 1-12 Roscommon 2-9

Fintan Cregg of Roscommon, who exceeded expectations this year
Fintan Cregg of Roscommon, who exceeded expectations this year

Sean McGoldrick

The Connacht derby between provincial champions, Roscommon and last year's beaten All-Ireland finalists, Mayo, ended all square in Croke Park.

It was announced afterwards that details of the replay would be announced tomorrow – but the game would go ahead on Bank Holiday Monday at GAA headquarters.

A pulsating contest saw three goals scored in the first half, as underdogs Roscommon led at one stage by seven points.

Man of the Match Lee Keegan – who was the game's leading scorer with 1-3 – essentially dragged Mayo back into the contest in the second quarter.

Mayo had the edge in the final quarter but woeful finishing left them vulnerable and a wonderful pointed free from Roscommon substitute Donal Smith in the 73rd minute earned them a second chance.

The two teams made a plethora of positional changes while, as expected, Mayo also made two changes in personnel: with Jason Doherty and Paddy Durcan replacing Tom Parsons and Conor Loftus.

By far the most significant positional switch, however, was the move which saw Footballer of the Year Lee Keegan switch to midfield a few minutes after the throw-in.

It was a class example of 'hammering the hammer' as Enda Smith was Roscommon's Man of the Match in their Connacht final win over Galway. Smith did score a seventh minute point but Keegan gave a wonderful first half performance bagging a personal tally of 1-3 from play.

After a muted start as the two teams adjusted to a heavy summer shower, the contest burst into life with a goal from Fintan Cregg – it was difficult to know whether he actually meant to loft the ball over the shoulder of David Clarke but it mattered little.

Roscommon were 1-2 to no score ahead; but their fans were in seventh heaven four minutes later when full forward Diarmuid Murtagh provided the vital assist for his brother Ciaran Murtagh and he rolled the ball over the Mayo line.

Unbelievably after 12 minutes Roscommon were seven points clear (2-2 to 0-1). But in moments of crisis for the big teams the leaders come to the fore. With Aidan O'Shea having minimum influence on proceedings, it was Keegan who took up the mantle.

From Clarke's kick out after Roscommon's second goal the ball broke to Keegan inside the Roscommon 45m metre line on the Cusack Stand side; the Roscommon defence retreated; Keegan raced through and unleashed a rocket which took a deflection off Niall McInerney and flew into the the Roscommon net.

Game on; and it was here that Mayo showed their big match experience as they ground their opponents down. With Keith Higgins settling into the role of sweeper, their defence tightened up considerably

Roscommon's cause wasn't help by some woeful finishing – they kicked eight wides in the first half compared to three for Mayo.

Their long range free taking was off target with Diarmuid Murtagh and goalkeeper Colm Lavin missing chances. Meanwhile, Mayo relentlessly reduced the Roscommon lead with four points in a row to level the contest after 25 minutes.

They scored two more points before Roscommon ended a 22 minute barren spell with a much needed pointed free from Ciaran Murtagh but Jason Doherty replied immediately for Mayo to leave them 1-8 to 2-3 ahead at the break.

As was the case in the first half Roscommon began the second in dominant fashion and points from Conor Devaney and a Diarmuuid Murtagh free left the sides level after 36 minutes.

A fisted pointed from Murtagh edged Roscommon ahead for the first time since the first quarter; Paddy Durcan equalised for Mayo but a converted free from Ciarain Murtagh after a foul on Enda Smith had the underdogs ahead again in the 48th minute.

Mayo's growing frustration was underlined when Cillian O'Connor was booked after flattening Sean Mulooly. With 20 minutes left there was no sign of Roscommon cracking.

Every time he touched the ball Andy Moran was booed by the Roscommon fans – presumably because he is from Ballaghadeereen which is geographically situated in County Roscommon.

He silenced the whistlers when he kicked the equalising point in the 54th minute. Enda Smith was much more prominent in the second half and he set up Roscommon substitute and his brother Donal for Roscommon's lead point again with 15 minutes of normal time remaining.

Neither side appeared to have the conviction to go for the jugular as the wide tally and the tension mounted. Eventually five minutes from the end of normal time Cillian O'Connor scored his first point from play to leave the tie level for the third time in the second half.

Aidan O'Shea made a crucial interception to cut out a pass to David Murray who would have put him in the clear. The ball was worked upfield where Paddy Durcan gave Mayo the lead. Mayo though always bring their supporters to the brink of despair and O'Connor missed a chance soon afterwards to make it a two point game.

In the third minute of the six allocated minutes of injury time Brendan Harrison was penalised for touching the ball on the ground and substitute Donal Smith hit a monster free from under the Cusack Stand and just inside the 45m line to level the tie.

Cillian O'Connor missed a chance at the other end but Tom Parsons caught Colm Lavin's kickout and Mayo won a free outside the 45 metre line. O'Connor's effort was as caught Colm Lavin. Roscommon had possession but lost it and O'Connor hit another wide - Mayo's ninth of the second half.

Despite playing an extra minute of injury time neither side could break the deadlock and so the sides will have to meet again.

The attendance was 65, 746.

 

Mayo: D Clarke; C Barrett, B Harrison, G Cafferkey; L Keegan (1-3), K Higgins, C Boyle (0-1); S O'Shea, A O'Shea; J Doherty (0-1), P Durcan (0-2), D O'Connor, K McLoughlin C O'Connor (0-3, 2f), A Moran (0-2).

Subs: D Vaughan for Boyle 51m, C Loftus for Moran 58m; T Parsons for S O'Shea 61m, S Coen for D O'Connor 65m; D Drake for Doherty 71m

 

Roscommon:C Lavin; D Murray, N McInerney, C Devaney (0-1); J McManus, S Mullooly, S McDermott; T O'Rourke, E Smith (0-1); B Stack, N Kilroy, F Cregg (1-1); C Murtagh (1-2, 2f), D Murtagh (0-2, 1f), C Connolly.

Subs: D Smith (0-2, 1f) for Connolly 50m; Colin Compton for C Murtagh; 58m; Cathal Compton for D Murtagh 62m, I Kilbride for McDermott 64m, R Stack for Devaney 70m

Referee: Joe McQuillan (Cavan)

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