They don’t make it easy on the faithful, but the Mayo congregation will head to church at least once more this summer after a dramatic draw with near neighbours Roscommon on Sunday in Croke Park. There were more than a few decades of the Rosary said by the traveling worshipers down the final few minutes of injury time as Mayo created and fluffed a few chances to win the game and the devotions were dedicated to the full time whistle blowing when Roscommon looked to steal it right at the end.
Mayo looked to be praying for a miracle early on, when Roscommon raced into a 2-2 to 0-1 lead after 11 minutes. Roscommon went for the perceived weakness in the Mayo full back line from the get go to put Mayo under pressure. The first goal came seven minutes in when Fintan Cregg raced into space and rolled Diarmuid O’Connor before looping the ball over the outstretched arm of David Clarke from inside the penalty area. Three minutes later Diarmuid Murtagh won the ball out in front of Ger Cafferkey and fed the ball to Ciaran Murtagh who drove the ball low past Clarke and Roscommon were in dreamland. Earlier in the game Cregg and Enda Smith had kicked points for Kevin McStay’s men with Lee Keegan responding for Mayo.
Fintan Cregg fires home Roscommon's first goal. Photo: Sportsfile
The battle between Smith and Keegan was one of the big duels, with Mayo moving the Westport man out to mark Smith in the middle of the park. Only 36 seconds after Roscommon’s second goal Mayo hit the back of the net to get their momentum moving. Keegan drove at the heart of the Roscommon defence and fired the ball at Colm Lavin’s goal, it deflected off the hands of Niall McInerney into the net to close the gap back to just four points.
From that moment on Mayo took control of the game for the rest of the half outscoring Roscommon by 0-7 to 0-1. Cillian O’Connor slotted over a point from a free and Keegan kicked another from play from out under the Hogan Stand to leave two between the sides. Colm Boyle and Andy Moran tagged on two in quick succession and with 22 minutes gone the game was level.
Mayo went in front for the first time four minutes before the short whistle though an O’Connor free and Keegan’s third point of the half pushed Mayo two clear. Roscommon cut the gap back to just one on 34 minutes thanks to a Ciaran Murtagh point, but the final say on the scoreboard in the opening half was left to Jason Doherty who applied a neat finish to send Mayo in leading by 1-8 to 2-3 at the break.
Roscommon put Smith into full forward at the start of the second half looking to cause Mayo more problems in that line and curb Keegan’s influence on the game. Roscommon wasted no time in canceling out Mayo’s lead. Conor Devaney slotted one over after just 15 seconds of the second half, Diarmuid Murtagh made it all square from a free a few seconds later after Mayo gave away a free on the kick-out from Devaney’s score.
Break on through: Jason Doherty looks to create space against Roscommon. Photo: Sportsfile
Neither side managed to score for the next 11 minutes until Diarmuid Murtagh lofted over a point after being played in by Cian Connolly. Mayo levelled it up a minute later through a Paddy Durcan point that was well worked with Aidan O’Shea and Jason Doherty involved in the build up. A Ciaran Murtagh free edged Roscommon back in front on 48 minutes and four minutes later Andy Moran made it all square again finishing a moved with Donal Vaughan and Cillian O’Connor.
Roscommon edged in front again though an excellent Donal Smith point after he was picked out by a great pass by Enda Smith to edge Roscommon in front again with 15 minutes to go. Mayo went hard in search of an equliser and missed a number of chances with Tom Parsons and Patrick Durcan pulling efforts wide of the target. Mayo did level it up on 65 minutes with Cillian O’Connor hitting his only score from play after being set up by Donal Vaughan. Two minutes were left on the clock when Patrick Durcan put Mayo into the lead, after he was played the ball in space by Aidan O’Shea. But there was time for plenty more drama as six minutes of injury time was signalled by the fourth official.
Three minutes into the additional time, Mayo were peanlised when for Stephen Coen picking the ball off the ground in the judgement of referee Joe McQuillian. Donie Smith held his nerve and drew the ball over the bar from the Cusack Stand side of the field and the game was level once more.
It’s all back to Croke Park on Bank Holiday Monday for the second reading of this local instalment with a place against Kerry in the All Ireland semi-final up for grabs, two weeks after that.
Mayo: Lee Keegan (1-3 ), Cillian O'Connor (0-3, 2fs ), Andy Moran (0-2, ) Patrick Durcan (0-2 ), Colm Boyle (0-1 ), Jason Doherty (0-1 ).
Roscommon: Ciarain Murtagh (1-2 (2fs ), Fintan Cregg (1-1 ), Diarmuid Murtagh (0-2, 1f ), Donie Smith (0-2, 1f ), Enda Smith (0-1 ), Conor Devaney (0-1 ).
Mayo: David Clarke; Brendan Harrison, Ger Cafferkey, Keith Higgins; Patrick Durcan, Chris Barrett, Colm Boyle; Seamus O'Shea, Lee Keegan; Kevin McLoughlin, Aidan O'Shea, Diarmuid O'Connor; Jason Doherty, Cillian O'Connor, Andy Moran.
Subs: Donal Vaughan for Boyle (51 ), Conor Loftus for Moran (58 ), Tom Parsons for S O'Shea (62 ), Stephen Coen for D O'Connor (65 ), David Drake for Doherty (71 ).
Roscommon: Colm Lavin; David Murray, Niall McInerney, Sean McDermott; John McManus, Sean Mullooly, Conor Devaney; Fintan Cregg, Enda Smith; Tadhg O'Rourke, Ciarain Murtagh, Brian Stack; Niall Kilroy, Cian Connolly, Diarmuid Murtagh.
Subs: Ian Kilbride for O'Rourke (18-23, blood ), Donie Smith for Connolly (51 ), Colin Compton for C Murtagh (58 ), Cathal Compton for D Murtagh (62 ), Ian Kilbride for McDermott (64 ), Ronan Stack for Devaney (71 ).
Ref: Joe McQuillan (Cavan ).