Murphy pulls Mayo level at the end

GAA:FBD League

Mayo 0-10

Roscommon 1-7

Well that's, that then for another season. The FBD league has been put to bed for Mayo inside a rapid fire seven day period. While an X in each of the win, loss and draw columns doesn't look great on paper, James Horan won't be that overly concerned with the results this early in January.

Going into his third season in charge of Mayo, Horan knows the strengths and weakness of his team and will have run the rule over almost everyone in the county that he deems good enough to wear the green and red at the highest level.

Sunday's team had a very settled look about it with nine of the starting 15 also taking to the field for the start of last years all Ireland final. Others to get the nod were Shane McHale who started against Leitrim last week also, Keith Rogers who has played all three FBD games, the experienced trio of Seamus O'Shea, Alan Freeman and Richie Feeney along with the real newbie Ballinrobe's Alan Murphy. The Ballinrobe man who has spent many years plying his trade in the League of Ireland, burst back into the consciousness of Mayo GAA supporters with some stunning turns for Ballinrobe in last years club championship. But it's going to be a very big ask for the 31-year-old to get straight up to the speed of inter-county football at the top level. While he did show that he could hold his nerve kicking two late frees to pull Mayo level, the pace of the game looked to be a bit too much for him at times on Sunday. But it's still very early days for Murphy at this level and he has also just returned from his honeymoon in recent days and he will surly be given another chance to impress over the coming weeks.

The other interesting choice by Horan over the last two gams has been the positioning of Lee Keegan and Richie Feeney in the half-forward line. Both men would be more traditionally known as half backs for Mayo, but often play in more advanced roles for their club and offer a more physical dimension to Mayo's half-forward line. With Alan Dillon still to reappear in green and red yet this season, but still a shoe in to have a place on that line alongside Kevin McLoughlin (making his first start of the year also on Sunday ) it could add a different dimension to Mayo's attacking play going forward this year. The other member of the that line from the All Ireland final, Jason Doherty made his first appearance for Mayo this year in this game in the number 15 jersey.

As for the game itself, it's very doubtful that anyone will remember too much from it come later this year, bar the freezing temperatures the game was played in.

Mayo looked like they could run riot early on and went into a three point lead after four minutes. From the throw-in Aidan O'Shea broke through to open the scoring after a powerful run. Jason Doherty followed this up with a good point, following strong build up play involving Richie Feeney and Aidan O'Shea after Kevin McLoughlin bravely won the ball back. Less than a minute later Seamus O'Shea barreled through to show that it wasn't only his brother who knows where the posts are.

After that Mayo hit a flat period and Donal Keane and Donie Shine kicked points for Roscommon who before the ten minute mark to close the gap to one. Keith Higgins and Murphy added points for Mayo just after the quarter of an hour mark. With four minutes to go in the half Roscommon hit a purple patch with Donie Shine kicking his second point when he really should have scored a goal, but shortly later the visitors did hit the back of the net. Shine was forced off with an injury just after his point. The Mayo defence were resetting themselves when Cathal Cregg found himself without proper coverage and in a goalscoring position and duly applied the finish to put Roscommon into the lead. The same player kicked a point a short time later to put his side two points to the good, before Seamus O'Shea with his left boot added his second point of the half to have only one between the sides at the break.

Aidan O'Shea opened the scoring for Mayo after five minutes of the second half, but it would be the last time that Mayo would trouble the scoreboard for the next 18 minutes. But Roscommon didn't offer much more of a threat scoring only two points in that period despite bossing the majority of the play for long periods. Donal Vaughan's 53rd minute point left the score at 1-6 to 0-8 in favour of the guests and when Fintan Cregg extended that lead with two minutes to go, the bragging rights looked like they would belong to the men in primrose and blue. But Mayo plugged away and Murphy was clinical from the two late, late chances he was given from dead balls.

With the FBD now behind us, all eyes will be on McHale Park in two weeks time and the visit of Kerry in round one of the National Football League, from there things will start to get serious.


Mayo: A Murphy (0-3, 3f ), A O'Shea (0-2 ), S O'Shea (0-2 ), K Higgins (0-1 ), D Vaughan (0-1 ), J Doherty (0-1 )

Roscommon: C Cregg (1-1, 1f ), D Shine (0-2, 2f ), M Finneran (0-1 ), D Keane (0-1 ), D Smith (0-1 ), F Cregg (0-1 )

Mayo: D Clarke; G Cafferkey, S McHale, K Rogers; K Higgins, D Vaughan, C Boyle; A O'Shea, S O'Shea; K McLoughlin, R Feeney, L Keegan; A Murphy, A Freeman, J Doherty. Subs: C Barrett for S McHale, B Moran for S O'Shea, B Gallagher for L Keegan, M Conroy for J Doherty, T Cunniffe for G Cafferkey.

Roscommon: G Claffey; P Brogan, N Carty, C Daly; S Purcell, N Daly, J McKeague; M Finneran, K Higgins; C Dineen, F Cregg, C Cregg; D Smith, D Shine, D Keane. Subs: S Oates for D Shine, N Collins for S Purcell, D Keenen for C Dineen, D Hoey for D Keane


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