Mayo's intensity proves too much for Roscommon
Mayo brought a level of intensity that opponents Roscommon just couldn't match as they ran out 1-16 to 0-13 winners in this afternoon's Connaught senior football championship semi-final at Dr. Hyde Park.
James Horan's new-look Mayo – a blend of experienced men and young blood – showed intent from the start against the newly-crowned Division 2 champions, who were unable match the pace and power of the visitors.
Roscommon opted to play against the wind in the first half but it turned out to be a good first quarter for Mayo, with some impressive interplay and support running from deep. Cillian O'Connor (two frees), Paddy Durcan and Diarmuid O'Connor accounted for Mayo's four points in the opening 10 minutes, with Conor Cox (mark) and Tadhg O'Rourke on target for Roscommon.
But Mayo's best spell in that first half came in the eight minutes prior to the water break, when they kept their opponents scoreless and tacked on 1-2, Kevin McLoughlin and Cillian O'Connor with the points before Diarmuid O'Connor finished off a patient move with a clinical finish to the bottom right of Colm Lavin's net, giving his team a 1-6 to 0-2 advantage.
Roscommon had been struggling to cope with Mayo's intensity but they used the break to their advantage and came out fighting for the latter stages of the first half, outscoring the visitors by three points to two thanks to Donie Smith (two) and Cian McKeon, with Aidan O'Shea and Tommy Conroy on target at the other end of the field.
However, the longer the half went on the more wasteful Mayo became and they ended it with eight wides, including two from the 45' line by Cillian O'Connor, uncharacteristically.
It all meant that despite the lead of six points (1-8 to 0-5) that Mayo enjoyed at half-time, Roscommon were well in contention with the second period still to play.
But O'Connor and Mayo roared back to life early in the second half. Three points from Cillian O'Connor (one free) stretched the lead out to nine, and from there Roscommon had to play a game of catch-up.
They never stopped trying and mounted a couple of mini-revivals, with Conor Cox, Donie Smith, Cian McKeon and substitutes Ciarán Lennon and Diarmuid Murtagh all finding the target, but with O'Connor unerring from frees and Paddy Durcan and Conor Loftus chipping in with scores, the visitors were always able to keep the home side at arm's length.
The reward for Mayo is a Connaught final against Galway next Sunday and the chance of a first provincial title since 2015.
The starting Mayo team was: David Clarke; Oisín Mullin, Chris Barrett, Lee Keegan; Paddy Durcan (0-2), Stephen Coen, Eoghan McLaughlin; Matthew Ruane, Conor Loftus (0-1); Kevin McLoughlin (0-1), Ryan O'Donoghue, Diarmuid O'Connor (1-1); Tommy Conroy (0-1), Aidan O'Shea (0-1), Cillian O'Connor (0-9). Subs used: Mark Moran, Jordan Flynn, Rory Brickenden, James Carr, Michael Plunkett.
The starting Roscommon team was: Colm Lavin; David Murray, Conor Daly, Sean Mullooly; Ronan Daly, Brian Stack, Niall Daly (0-1); Cathal Compton, Tadgh O'Rourke (0-1); Niall Kilroy, Enda Smith, Cian McKeon (0-3); Donie Smith (0-3), Conor Cox (0-3), Cathal Cregg. Subs used: Conor Devaney, Conor Hussey, Ciarán Lennon, David Neary, Diarmuid Murtagh (0-2).
*Pictured above, Paddy Durcan of Mayo breaks the tackle by Cathal Compton of Roscommon at Dr. Hyde Park. Photo: Ramsey Cardy / Sportsfile