MAYO gained two crucial national football league points with an impressive 1-19 to 0-14 victory over Roscommon at Elverys MacHale Park, Castlebar, this evening.
As the scoreline suggests, this was easy for Mayo. After a slow start in which they fell behind by three points to one after seven minutes, they gained control and fired over eight unanswered points to lead by six with 22 minutes gone.
By half-time they still held that six-point advantage, although they had 'keeper David Clarke to thank for this as he pulled off two magnificent saves to deny Roscommon's Enda Smith and Sean Mullooly. Full-back Keith Higgins also denied Roscommon with a brilliant block towards the end of a half in which Roscommon's Shane Killoran and Mayo's Colm Boyle had been black-carded.
As a contest the game was really settled four minutes after the resumption when Cillian O'Connor goaled brilliantly from the penalty spot, the penalty having been awarded after Evan Regan was hacked down in the big square by Roscommon's Seanie McDermott. After this score it was just a matter of what Mayo's winning margin would be.
For the remainder of the second half the home side continued to land some delightful points, and could afford to empty the bench too. Roscommon did manage to land a number of late points but all it did was put a better look on the final score.
It was an encouraging performance by Mayo and one which allowed the management to give a number of the younger members of the panel some game time.
While Roscommon made better use of their chances early on, manager Stephen Rochford felt Mayo were going well despite what was reflected in the scoreline.
“We actually played well through that period,” he said. “Roscommon went and capitalised on our mistakes. We had three wides in that period ourselves but thankfully we got the scoring boots on and we kicked on, and we'd be reasonably happy with that first quarter. Not quite as happy in the second quarter, but we're happy to take the two points at the end of the day.”
There were goal chances for Roscommon in both halves, however, and Rochford conceded that it's an area where Mayo have to continue putting in the work on the training pitch.
“We need to tighten up. We gave away too many goal chances, and gave away too many goal chances the last day (against Kerry). But I do feel we're improving in that regard and we'll need to be better at that next week. Dublin are a different prospect but Croke Park can bring the best out in a team as well.”
There were a number of outstanding performers for Mayo, but Diarmuid O'Connor stood out with a five-star display in the middle of the field.
It was also good to see Brendan Harrison return after injury, as well as Lee Keegan who was a first-half replacement for Boyle after the black card. Indeed, both Keegan and Harrision ended up scoring two points each.
Despite registering 15 wides, it was encouraging to see no fewer than 12 Mayo players getting on the scoresheet, with 17 of their points coming from play.
With two wins out of three for Mayo now, one more victory from their four remainig league games should guarantee them their Division 1 status for next year. However, I'm sure Rochford will be thinking that getting to the league final is a real possibility after this latest performance.
However, while the victory was a welcome boost, it would be wrong to read too much into it as Roscommon were poor and look like a team destined to make the drop to Division 2. Next Saturday night's fourth round game against Dublin in Croke Park should tell us a lot more about where Mayo are at regarding their chances of league success.
Mayo: D. Clarke, D. Newcombe, K. Higgins, D. Vaughan (0-1), S. Coen, C. Boyle, P. Durcan, J. Gibbons (0-1), D. O’Connor (0-1), F. Boland (0-2), C. O’Connor (1-4), C. O’Shea (0-1), K. McLoughlin (0-1), A. Moran (0-1), E. Regan (0-1).
Subs used: L. Keegan (0-2), C. Loftus (0-2), B. Harrison (0-2), S. Nally, M. Plunkett, L. Irwin.
Roscommon: C. Lavin, S. McDermott, N. McInerney, D. Murray, R. Stack, S. Mullooly, J. McManus, E. Smith (0-2), T. O’Rourke, S. Killoran (0-1), C. Murtagh (0-2), F. Cregg (0-1), D. Smith (0-3), T. Corcoran (0-1), C. Devaney (0-3).
Subs used: C. Cafferkey, K. Higgins, G. Patterson, N. Kilroy (0-1), B. Murtagh, C. Connolly.
Referee: J. McQuillan (Cavan).