Mayo survived a late Roscommon rally to win their first Connacht minor title since 2010 in McHale Park on Sunday afternoon, a brace of goals early in the first half along with another not long after the break were the foundations of the win for Enda Gilvarry's men. With time almost up and only three points in the Roscommon launched a final attack dropping the ball in on top of Mark Mulligan's goal, the ball dropped in dangerously and hopped off the top of the bar and back into play and was cleared to safety by the Mayo players.
For most of the game it looked to be just a matter of counting down the minutes until Mayo claimed the win, but Roscommon kept plugging away and when Ultan Harney was pulled down by Ronan Finn inside the large rectangle, it gave Diarmuid Murtagh a chance to close the gap to only two points. The Roscommon corner forward stepped up and drove the ball low past Mulligan to set Mayo nerves jangling. But Mayo dug in and won the resulting kick out and Liam Irwin won a free just inside the 45m line to relive the pressure. The Breaffy man put the ball down and stroked it straight between the uprights and give Mayo a three point cushion, they didn't let slip.
Mayo couldn't have asked for a better start and found themselves 2-0 to 0-0 up inside seven minutes. Darragh Doherty was the first to rustle the back of Shane Mannion's net five minutes in. The Kilmane corner forward picked up a laser guided pass from Séan Conlon and drove his effort high over the outstretched arm of Mannion in the Roscommon goal on the 'keepers near side. Two minutes later Liam Irwin scored a goal that was worth the admission fee alone. The big Breaffy full forward won the ball on the McHale Road side of the pitch, threw a dummy to get around the first man, then another swerve to create a little space before he unleashed a thunderbolt shot to the back of the net. Val Roughneen put Mayo seven points clear a minute later from a free and it looked like that the game was up for Roscommon at that early stage.
But Fergal O'Donnell's men weren't going to bend the knee fully that early in the contest and they went on to dominate the next 15 minutes of the game, Cathal Compton and Tadhg O'Rourke were winning all the breaks in the middle of the park and Ultan Harney was starting to have major influence on the contest. Diarmuid McGann kicked over two frees before the break to make sure his side kept in touch. McGann's first point came after meandering by Harney saw his shot come back off the bar. Diarmuid Murtagh also chipped in with two points from frees before to cut the gap back to three points. But Mayo found themselves again in the closing stages of the half and points from a Irwin free and one from play from Tommy Conroy put them 2-4 to 0-5 up a the turnaround
Mayo hit the ground running in the second half with Stephen Burke scoring a point after only 22 seconds of action in the period and two minutes later plundering their third goal. Cian Hanley set off an a run that brought him through the heart of the Roscommon defence, he let fire with a shot for goal that was well saved by Shane Mannion, but the rebound flew up into the path of Conor Loftus who punched the ball to the empty net. And that looked like that, midway through the second half Mayo were leading by 3-6 to 0-7 and on the face of it looked like a time keeping exercise, but Roscommon kept coming and at them and chipping away at the scoreboard and at the end very nearly pulled the game level at the death.
Liam Irwin 1-3 (2fs ), Conor Loftus 1-0, Darragh Doherty 1-0, Stephen Coen 0-1, Tommy Conroy 0-1, Stephen Burke 0-1, Val Roughneen 0-1 (f ).
Diarmuid Murtagh 1-3 (1-0 pen, 2fs ), Diarmuid McGann 0-4 (2fs ), Ronan Daly 0-1, Cathal Compton 0-1, Senan Farrell 0-1
Mayo: M Mulligan; E Doran, S Conlon; D Kenny; R Finn, S Coen, M Hall; V Roughneen, D O’Connor; C Loftus, S Burke, C Hanley; D Doherty, L Irwin, T Conroy.
Subs: C Byrne for Doherty (45 mins ), M Plunkett for Roughneen (48 mins ).
Roscommon: S Mannion; D Neary, S Mullooly, M Flannery; R Daly, E McGrath, S Pettit; C Compton, T O’Rourke; N Connaughton, U Harney, J Earley; E Fallon, D McGann, D Murtagh.
Subs: H Walsh for Connaughton (45 mins ), S Farrell for Pettit (46 mins ), J Gannon for Earley (49 mins ), M Murtagh for McGrath (51 mins ).
Referee: R McBrien (Leitrim )