Moran leads 'daft' goal blitz to reel in Rossies
Mayo 4-11 Roscommon 2-16
Sometimes the numbers that frame a game don't add up to anything that makes sense.
Down to 14 men and trailing by eight points, Mayo looked to be heading into their League campaign on the back of a chastening defeat to local rivals Roscommon.
But by the time referee John Gilmartin brought it all to an end, Mayo had struck for three goals, two of them from the evergreen Andy Moran, to seal a remarkable come-from-behind win.
Anything other than a comfortable Roscommon victory looked improbable when Donie Smith curled over his fourth point of the day to put his side eight up after 62 minutes.
Mayo had been marked absent since the restart as they managed just two points from frees to that point as Roscommon took total control.
Donie's brother Enda was tormentor in chief, finishing the day with 2-3 to his name including a brilliant second-half goal that handed Roscommon a lead they would hold on to until the game's dying moments.
Conor O'Shea's second yellow card meant that Roscommon looked home and hosed down the home straight but incredibly, the last three scores of the game were Mayo goals, handing them a morale-boosting one-point win.
First Cillian O'Connor slotted a penalty after Jason Gibbons was felled in the square. Then Moran played a quick one-two with O'Connor to raise another green flag and cut the gap to two just as the clock ticked into the first of five minutes of injury-time.
Then, with the allotted time up, Moran gathered possession before slipping inside the cover and finishing brilliantly to the net in front of a scarcely believing crowd in Kiltoom.
"We stuck at in the end (and the) endeavour we showed there with Stephen Coen turning over the ball, Donie Newcombe and Cillian putting in tackles when we were a man down. . . I'm delighted with the shift the lads put in and the win," said Mayo boss Stephen Rochford.
"There is plenty to work on, and we went missing 15 minutes into the second half and they opened up a gap."
Perhaps the finish was no real surprise as the game ebbed and flowed all afternoon. Roscommon were four to the good early in the first half but trailed by 1-9 to 1-8 at half-time.
The came the outlandish second half. Roscommon kicked seven in a row to take charge before Mayo, who didn't manage a point from play in the second half, made a spectacular smash and grab.
"Ah well sure that's daft really isn't it?" Roscommon manager Kevin McStay replied when it was put to him that the last three scores of the game were Mayo goals.
"They're very experienced fellas. We're novices at this really. They know how to keep at the game. They won't panic, they'll play out every minute."
Despite the defeat, Roscommon advance to the final of this competition for the fourth year in a row with McStay happy his side are heading in the right direction before their League opener away to Tyrone on Sunday week.
"Week on week since we started, the standard is improving," he said. "The standard of the opposition is improving. Our response to that standard of opposition has improved as well. I'd be happy with a lot of it today. Our defence isn't strong enough yet. We need to tighten it up a bit and yet individually they weren't too bad at all."
Rochford also declared himself pleased with what his side achieved in January and he expects to have close to a full deck to pick from when Monaghan come to Casltebar on Saturday week.
"I think we are in better shape than were last year," he said. "This time last year we wouldn't have had the fitness levels to come back and stage that element of a comeback."
Scorers - Mayo: C O'Connor 1-5 (1-0 pen, 5fs), A Moran 2-0, L Irwin 1-1 (0-1f), F Boland 0-2, C O'Shea, D Kirby, P Durcan 0-1 each. Roscommon: E Smith 2-3 (0-1f), D Smith 0-4 (2fs), C Connolly 0-3, K Higgins, C Murtagh (2fs) 0-2 each, N Kilroy, T O'Rourke 0-1 each.
Mayo - R Hennelly; D Newcombe, R O'Malley, P Durcan; M Plunkett, S Coen, D Drake; J Gibbons, D Kirby; F Boland, K McLoughlin, J Doherty; L Irwin, C O'Connor, C O'Shea. Subs: E Regan for Irwin (48), K Higgins for O'Malley (49), T Parsons for Kirby (57), S Nally for Durcan (B59), A Moran for Boland, C Carolan for Gibbons (both 67).
Roscommon - C Lavin; D Murray, T Featherston, N McInerney; R Stack, U Harney, J McManus; T O'Rourke, K Higgins; F Cregg, C Murtagh, E Smith; C Connolly, T Corcoran, D Smith. Subs: N Kilroy for C Murtagh, G Patterson for Harney (both 44), S Killoran for Cregg (49), H Walsh for Connolly (56), B Murtagh for Stack (61), C Shine for D Smith (67).
Ref - J Gilmartin (Sligo).