Mayo found the extra gear that they needed when the tide looked to have turned against them in the Connacht Minor Football Championship final in MacHale Park on Sunday. With 13 minutes left on the clock, Roscommon had put themselves into a one point lead and looked like they were about to turn for home. But this Mayo side who showed they have plenty of bottle when needed against Galway in their semi-final win, upped the ante again and sprinted past Roscommon over the closing stages.
They outscored their opponents 1-6 to 0-0 over the closing stages. The outstanding Brian Reape who put in a man of the match performance leveled the game up with a good score after TJ Byrne had done the hard work to create the chance. A minute later Reape grabbed a goal that put Mayo back in the driving seat, Byrne and Sharoize Akram were involved in the build up before the Bohola Moy Davitts man found the back of the net. Byrne struck again with another point from out on the right after Akram and Cian Hanley had both been involved in creating the space for him to shoot. Mayo sub Fionan Duffy tagged on two more points with Kiltimagh's TJ Byrne kicking a fine score to get his name on the scoresheet as Mayo ran out eight point winners against a gallant Roscommon team.
The game had looked to have been going away from Mayo before their final flurry over the last 15 minutes after Hubert Darcy had kicked his third point of the day to put Roscommon into a 0-14 to 1-10. The Rossies' had clawed back a three point deficit at the break, thanks to the endeavours of the likes of Noel Gatley and Conor Murray. They kicked the first two scores of the half through a brace of frees from Kevin Smyth and could have had a goal if Eoin Fallon had found the back of the net after he was played in by Luke Carty. Mayo replied with scores from Reaper and Conor Kilkenny, but any hopes of them quelling the Roscommon challenge were short lived as points from Smyth, Gatley, Carty and Darcy put the Rossies into the lead. But Mayo dug in when needed and found that extra gear and retained their Connacht title.
Mayo went in leading by three points at the break and in truth should have been at least four more points clear after they kicked seven wides in the opening 30 minutes, many of them from scoreable positions. The backbone of the Mayo performance was the domination of the midfield sector by Mathew Ruane and Gary Walsh, providing the platform for the impressive Cian Hanley to pull the strings in attack, with Gary Boylan and Conor Byrne also doing well up front.
Brian Reape kicked the first point of the game after being set up by Sharoize Akram two minutes in. Cian Hanley had a half-chance for a goal three minutes later which was blocked by Shane Mannion in the Roscommon goal. Conor Byrne kicked Mayo's second score eight minutes in when another Hanley goal effort was deflected out by a Roscommon defender. Two minutes later, Hanley finally found the back of the net when he was played in by Stephen Brennan after Mayo broke with pace from the defence after intercepting a probing ball in from Roscommon. The visitors found their feet not long after the goal and reeled off three points on the bounce over the next five minutes with Hubert Darcy, the impressive Noel Gately and Fergal Lennon raising the white flag.
Gary Boylan steadied the Mayo ship with a pointed free that scraped over the bar with the aid of the inside of the post to keep the gap at three points. The rest of the half was the sides went almost score for score, with Noel Gately kicking three more for the visitors and Hanley kicking two fine scores for Mayo before the turn around, where the sides went in with Mayo leading 1-8 to 0-8
Mayo: B Reape (1-6 ), C Hanley (1-2 ), C Byrne (0-2 ), C Boylan (0-2,1f ), F Duffy (0-2 ), TJ Byrne (0-1 ), C Kilkenny (0-1 )
Roscommon: N Gately (0-5 ), K Smyth (0-3, 3f ), H Darcy (0-3 ), L Carty (0-3 ), F Lennon (0-1 )
Mayo: M Flangan; S Cunniffe, B Duffy, E O'Donoghue; J Forkan, S Conlon, S Brennan; G Walsh, M Ruane; S Akram, C Hanley, G Boyle; C Byrne, TJ Byrne, B Reape. Subs: C Kilkenny for M Ruane (35 ), F Duffy for C Byrne (44 ), K Hopkins for B Duffy (50 ) M Ruane for G Walsh (51 ),
Roscommon: S Mannion; J Casey, B Stack, M Flannery; F Lennon, E McGrath, E Fallon; T Butler, R Raftery; D Connaughton, L Carty, K Bannon; N Gatley, H Darcy, K Smyth. C Murray for T Butler (22 ), J Fahy for D Connaughton (30 ), J Connaughton for E Fallon (39 ), C Callinan for K Bannon (44 ), J Gannon for H Darcy (53 ), B Kelly for L Carty (53 )
Ref: J Molloy (Galway ).