Enda Smith of Roscommon in action against Paddy Durcan of Mayo during this year's Allianz Football League. Mayo must beware as Roscommon have a habit of catching Mayo following a league title win.

Mayo deserving winners of the league


NOT often enough. Never by enough.

It is a phrase that Mayo people repeat anytime a victory over Galway comes about. Doing it against Galway in a final – a Division 1 final no less – is even sweeter. While the match itself is not one that will live long in the memory, finals are simply there to be won and in recent finals with the Tribesman, Mayo can do no wrong.

This scribe left Castlebar in what he thought was reasonable time but was hitting traffic before he got near the motorway. There was a quick stop in Kinnegad which had a large meeting of bikers, and not a hint of green, red, maroon or white in sight. I suppose Croke Park on a Sunday afternoon isn’t for everyone.

Google Maps alerted me to an accident on the M4 (hopefully no one was hurt) so got a detour to Maynooth via Kilcock before the train landed me just outside HQ.

Getting up to the press box, I was greeted by Croke Park official Padraig Flannery, a native of Rathbawn Road, Castlebar, and a quick thumbs up at the end of the game showed where his loyalties very much remain.

Going to the game, the longer it went the more you prayed it didn’t go to extra-time. Not just for the wind cutting across the Hogan Stand, but the game itself was not one that got you jumping out of your seat.

Mayo were 0-6 to 0-1 after 15 minutes without really getting out of second gear, such was Galway’s ineffectiveness.

They finally woke from their slumber and Reape was called into action not once, but twice to deny Galway the green a flag. Galway manager Padraic Joyce wasn’t happy with decision to give Reape a yellow as opposed to a black one. Some may feel differently but Johnny Heaney had already went for his strike before he was impeded and from this columnist’s view, it was the right decision.

Galway did cut into Mayo’s lead as the second half after Mayo responded with a late flurry in the first half. But as the second half went on, as Galway began to come back once again, you need leaders to step up. Paddy Durcan and Aidan O’Shea did so and they had excellent outings, but none more than the Knockmore goalkeeper.

He pulled off another two big saves to dent Matthew Tierney and Damien Comer. Once he pulled off the latter from Annaghdown’s finest, you felt there was only one winner.

Tommy Conroy has given Kevin McStay a big selection headache next weekend. He made a real impact and won two big frees for Mayo late on while Reape, who kicked three big points through placed balls, stood firm once more to deny Peter Cooke.

Not much time to saviour the moment as the Rossies come to Castlebar this Sunday. You don’t have to look too far to find a case of Roscommon spiling the Mayo party as they caught the Green and Red in 2019 following Mayo’s win over Kerry in the league final.

The quick turnaround may swing in Roscommon’s favour but with the momentum Mayo have built throughout the league, it will take a big display to stop McStay’s men setting up a showdown in Salthill later in the month.