Thursday 21 February 2019

WATCH: Roscommon and Mayo bosses did not see controversial incident involving Donie Smith

Mayo 1-8 Roscommon 1-7

Diarmuid O'Connor of Mayo in action against Roscommon players, from left, Ronan Daly, Conor Hussey and Donie Smith
Diarmuid O'Connor of Mayo in action against Roscommon players, from left, Ronan Daly, Conor Hussey and Donie Smith
Aidan O’Shea in action against Niall Daly in Castlebar last night. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach

Seán McGoldrick

Roscommon's Donie Smith could face action from GAA chiefs after he appeared to make contact with the eye of Keith Higgins as James Horan's Mayo got their League campaign off to a winning. start

Mayo secured their first home league win since April 2017 when they beat newly-promoted Roscommon in a torrid encounter in Castlebar last night which was ruined by the atrocious weather conditions.

Unquestionably the highlight of the evening was a brilliant 65th-minute goal from Brian Reape, who was making his debut at full-forward for Mayo, though Roscommon had the final say with a Shane Killoran goal in the fourth minute of injury time.

Mayo began their 21st consecutive season in Division 1 with their fourth different management team in six seasons as James Horan returned for a second bite of the cherry. Keith Higgins and Aidan O'Shea, who played in Horan's first league match back in 2011 - a drawn encounter against Down - featured again.

Historically, the odds were stacked against the visitors - they last won a league game on Mayo soil in 1988.

Roscommon played with the advantage of the elements in the first half but the extreme conditions made it virtually impossible to play constructive football. Still, it was a surprise that the visitors deployed only Colin Compton and Ciarán Lennon in forward positions.

Mayo goalkeeper Robert Hennelly miscued his first three kicks-outs into the gale - and another five went astray before half-time. But only Killoran took full advantage, kicking a monster point to give Roscommon an early 0-3 to 0-1 advantage, and by the end of the first quarter they were 0-5 to 0-1 ahead.

By then, the Central Council decision to drop the three handpass rule already looked misguided given the surfeit of hand-to-hand transfers by Mayo as they monopolised possession but failed to make inroads into the visitors' 14-man defensive wall.

Donie Smith was fortunate not to be punished when he appeared to make contact with Keith Higgins' eye during a tussle ten minutes from the break. The Mayo defender was incensed and knocked Smith over. The referee, however, didn't take any action which leaves the CCCC free to investigate the incident.

"I didn't see it. My backroom team were watching and rang down straight away to say that there was an incident," Horan told RTE afterwards.

Brian Reape of Mayo scores his side's first goal. Photo: Sportsfile
Brian Reape of Mayo scores his side's first goal. Photo: Sportsfile

"All I can do is have a look at it. I don't know whether there was intent or not.

"We have had a lot of battles with Roscommon down through the years, it's been fiery, but fair."

Roscommon boss Anthony Cunningham added:"There was a lot of physicality out there because of the conditions. Did I see that incident? Absolutely not.

"We wouldn't promote or endorse that type of behaviour in any way."

Roscommon failed to score from the 18th minute and had ten wides chalked up by the break, while Mayo failed to score from play in the half.

Roscommon's four-point interval lead (0-5 to 0-1) seemed precarious given the appalling conditions they would be facing after the break.

Mayo's longest-serving player, Andy Moran, was introduced at half-time and they finally scored from play after 80 seconds of the half with a long-range point from Diarmuid O'Connor. It proved a false dawn though as they ballooned their next three chances wide.

The Mayo fans in the official attendance of 10,941 began to grow impatient and when Aidan O'Shea and O'Connor took each other out when jumping for a Hennelly kick-out, it summed up how frustrating their play had become.

Eventually, two pointed frees within 60 seconds - the latter a monster effort from midfield by Jason Doherty - left it a one-point game with 20 minutes left.

But in a rare Roscommon attack Colin Compton could have put the game beyond Mayo's reach but he opted to fist the ball over the bar rather than go for the jugular after 52 minutes.

Donie Vaughan replied immediately for Mayo, who then had Colm Boyle black-carded after he flattened Roscommon substitute Ultan Harney.

Mayo captain Paddy Durcan tied up the contest in the 58th minute and another defender, full-back Brendan Harrison, gave them the lead which Jason Doherty doubled in the next play with nine minutes left.

Any doubt about the final outcome evaporated five minutes from the end when Mayo's new full-forward Reape picked up the ball about 30 metres out, and after a weaving run he rifled a delightful shot to the corner of the Roscommon net.

The visitors finished the game with 14 men after Harney was red-carded after a clash which forced Colm Boyle to leave the field for a second time. Right at the death, Roscommon's Killoran found the Mayo net after a goalmouth scramble but the home side held their nerve to win the subsequent kick-out and run down the remaining seconds.

Scorers - Mayo: B Reape 1-0; J Doherty 0-3 (2fs); D O'Connor, D Vaughan, P Durcan, B Harrison, E Regan (f) 0-1 each. Roscommon: S Killoran 1-1; C Compton 0-2; U Harney, C Cregg, D Smith, E Smith (f) 0-1 each.

Mayo: R Hennelly; E O'Donoghue, B Harrison, K Higgins; L Keegan, C Boyle, P Durcan; D O'Connor, D Vaughan; F Boland, A O'Shea, J Doherty; E Regan, B Reape, C Diskin. Subs: A Moran for Boland (h-t); S Coen for Vaughan (68); F McDonagh for Diskin (70).

Roscommon: D O'Malley; G Patterson, C Daly, E McGrath; C Hussey, N Daly, R Daly; T O'Rourke, E Smith; N Kilroy, C Compton, S Killoran; D Smith, C Lennon, C Cregg. Subs: U Harney for Lennon (h-t); H Darcy for Cregg (61); D Neary for Patterson and C Fitzmaurice for O'Rourke (both 68).

Referee: B Cassidy (Derry)

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