Wednesday, 16 March 2011 13:13
In 2006 and 2007 Mayo wiped the floor with Roscommon when they met in back-to-back Connaught finals.
What Mayo have to look at now is how they could lose to Roscommon in successive years when they have only kicked their first, and last, ball of the championship.
After sifting through the evidence after this preliminary round clash in artic-like conditions at McHale Park on Saturday evening it is obvious Mayo are having problems at this grade, but identifying those problems may take some time and some soul-searching form those involved in management and coaching players at this level.
It was clear from the outset that Roscommon had more cohesion to them and that, along with a stronger physical presence, was to ultimately swing the game in their favour, although it could just as easily gone to Mayo in match that was delicately poised, Mayo, in fact, leading by a point five minutes from the end.
Having battled from behind from the start of the game, Mayo looked to be on course to avenge last year's defeat when a superb point from substitute Darren Coen saw them hit the front with the winning post in sight.
However, Roscommon came with three late points, the levelling score from Cathal Shine proving to be a huge one three minutes from time before centre-back Niall Daly put his side in front a minute from the end and Scott Oates sealed victory with a pointed free in injury time.
While Mayo will point to instances when they could have won the game and were dealt a huge blow when they lost full-back Kevin Keane with an ankle injury in the first half, it is difficult to argue with the result as Roscommon looked that bit stronger and were certainly the better team by far in the first half.
At the end of that half they had gone 0-6 to 0-4 clear, two early frees from Regan easing Roscommon into the lead before Cillian O'Connor got Mayo off the mark on 11 minutes with a free.
Mayo's second point arrived courtesy of a fine effort on his left foot from Aiden O'Shea but back-to-back points from Oates and Darren McDermott saw Roscommon now looking very confident, a further point from wing-back Paddy Brogan extending the lead to four with six minutes to go to the interval.
Sensing they were drifting out of the game Mayo came back with two big scores of their own, the introduction of Aiden Walsh having an impact and the Mitchels man provided the ball for both O'Connor and O'Shea to reduce the gap to two at the interval to two points, 0-6 to 0-4.
Three minutes into the second half Mayo had wiped the slate clean, Coen and O'Connor both on target, but in a foul-ridden half Mayo were punished by the accuracy of Regan who kicked two on the bounce to put Roscommon two ahead again with 15 minutes remaining.
Mayo now produced their most productive period with O'Connor feeding off some good ball and atoning for a missed free with a point before substitute Ger Cafferty tied it at eight apiece.
A goal for either side would certainly have sealed it and Mayo's Shane Nally came close, but his effort was somehow cleared by some frantic defending.
O'Shea set up Coen for a cracking point as Mayo hit the front with five minutes remaining, but this Roscommon team, whose experience from winning the Connaught title last year stood them in great stead, wouldn't be brushed off, three late scores turning this game around.
Mayo last provincial title in this grade came in 2009 when they completed a magnificent four-in-a-row. Already they have chalked up two-in-a-row in terms of early round defeats, and that has to be a concern for Mayo football further down the track.
Scorers for Roscommon: S. Regan 0-4 (4f), D. McDermott 0-2, S. Oates 0-2 (1f), C. Shine, N. Daly and P. Brogan 0-1 each.
Scorers for Mayo: C. O'Connor 0-4 (3f), A. O'Shea 0-2, D. Coen 0-2, J. Cafferky 0-1.
Roscommon: N. Connaughton, N. Byrne, C. Duignan, C. Cafferkey, E. Bannon, N. Daly, P. Brogan, U. Stritch, A. Feehily, B. Murtagh, S. Oates, S. Regan, C. Compton, C. Shine, D. McDermott.
Subs used: M. Higgins for Beirne (38m), N. Kilroy for Compton (46m), D. Clabby for Feehily (51m), N. Collins for Murtagh (51m).
Mayo: R. Hennelly, S. McHale, K. Keane, K. Rodgers, C. Crowe, D. Kirby, E. Reilly, S. Nally, D. Geraghty, M. Forde, C. Freeman, A. Farrell, C. Dempsey, A. O'Shea, C. O Connor.
Subs used: A. Walsh for K. Keane (inj, 20m), D. Coen for Farrell (h-t), J. Cafferty for Geraghty (49m), F. Durkan for Freeman (50m).
Referee: E. O'Grady (Leitrim).
Man of the match: Aiden O' Shea...powerful midfield presence for Mayo.
When Mayo had drawn level at 0-8 each, Shane Nally had a great chance of a goal but the effort was somehow saved. That proved to be the difference between winning and losing.
How Mayo could go from winning four Connaught titles in a row (2006 to 2009) to exiting in successive years at such an early stage has to be a matter of some concern at a time when the board is seeking to look at the state of Mayo football through the Strategic Plan.