Mayo's interest in the FBD League ended in Elverys MacHale Park on Sunday when an hungry and slicker Roscommon team went home with the points and the provincial bragging rights thanks to a five point win over the Connacht champions.
If it wasn't for three key saves by Kenneth O'Malley who was making his 2015 bow, it could have been much worse for Mayo, with the Ballinrobe custodian making three excellent stops to keep the Roscommon goal tally to just two over the hour.
Mayo can have no real complaints at the final score in a game that in the second half saw tempers flare over on a few occasions. But that just underlined the fact that even in the cold days of January a game between Mayo and Roscommon always has something on the line, even if it's just a place in the FBD League final.
The two Roscommon goals were the deciding factors in the contest and Mayo will be disappointed with how they came about, with Diarmuid Murtagh's goal in the first half coming after Mayo failed to win back the ball from their own kick-out and Mark Nally's goal coming after Mayo coughed up the ball as they attempted to break out from the back.
Roscommon laid down a marker of their intention as early as the 30th second of the game when Cian Cafferkey swung the ball over O'Malley's bar from the MacHale Road side of the ground. A minute later Roscommon u21 star Diarmuid Murtagh put his side two points to the good when he converted a free from the stand side after he'd been fouled himself by Chris Barrett.
The Mayo full-back line had an unusual look to it with Chris Barrett, Donal Vaughan and Lee Keegan all more known as half-backs rather than full-backs and the trio struggled at times over the hour against the Roscommon full forward line of Diarmuid Murtagh, Seanan Kilbride and Ciaráin Murtagh.
With just three minutes gone on the clock, Roscommon had their first goal chance when Ciaráin Murtagh and Kilbride combined to set up Brian Murtagh whose shot was brilliantly saved by O'Malley. Four minutes later Donie Smith took fire at goal from the 13 meter line, but O'Malley stood firm to save it comfortably. Not long after that chance, Roscommon stretched their lead out to three points when Ciaráin Murtagh slotted over his first point of the afternoon from a free out on the left hand side of the field.
Mayo finally opened their account with a pointed free from Jason Doherty after Seamus O'Shea was hauled down 30 meters out. The Mayo attack failed to fire all afternoon, with only three players scoring over the hour and just two of those scores coming from play. Just before the quarter-of-an-hour mark Doherty had another chance to cut the gap back but his effort came back off the post and was cleared by the Roscommon defence. Doherty did cut the gap back to the minimum with a fine effort from play shortly afterwards, but Roscommon were about to strike for their first goal. A Mayo kick-out to the stand side was claimed by the Roscommon attack and a quick ball from Senan Kilbride to Ian Kilbride was moved swiftly to the hands of Diarmuid Murtagh and he drove the ball into the top corner of O'Malley's net, giving the Mayo keeper no chance. The St Faithleachs man kicked his second point of the day shortly afterwards and Ciaráin Murtagh tagged on one more to give Roscommon a 1-5 to 0-2 lead with seven minutes left in the half. Doherty kicked over two pointed frees in quick succession to get Mayo moving again, but Roscommon replied soon after with Enda Smith pointing after he was given oceans of room to charge through the heart of the Mayo defence. The half did end brightly for Mayo with Kevin McLoughlin kicking the final two points of the half, one from play and the other from a free to send Roscommon in leading by 1-6 to 0-6 at the break.
The second 30 minutes saw tempers flare up a few times with a number of handbags incidents, but the flow of the game was much the same as the first half with the visitors pushing on when it mattered.
Ciaráin Murtagh opened the scoring in the half from close range after a minute. Three minutes in O'Malley pulled off another great save getting down low to block Enda Smith's effort. Kevin McLoughlin pulled on point back for Mayo, before Ciaráin Murtagh and Cafferkey stretched the Roscommon lead out to five points with 20 minutes to go. McLoughlin added on another pointed free for Mayo, but with a quarter-of-an-hour left Roscommon struck for their second goal. Colm Boyle gave away the ball uncharacteristically and Mark Nally was on hand to steam through unchallenged before he drove the ball low to O'Malley's net. It was game, set and match to the visitors at this stage as they went seven points clear.
Another McLoughlin pointed free closed the gap back to six points, but Diarmuid Murtagh and Enda Smith replied with a point each to put eight between the teams. With nine minutes left Mayo were thrown a lifeline when Seamus O'Shea was upended by a trip from Ronan Stack as he tried to bury his way in for a goal. The Roscommon man was shown a black card for his troubles, while Alan Freeman scored from the spot. McLoughlin cut the gap back to four points with his final effort of the day and there were six minutes left on the clock and gave Mayo a chance of still progressing to the final as they could afford to lose by two and still make it. But it wasn't to be with Diarmuid Murtagh stretching the Roscommon lead back out to five points with two minutes to go and the Roscommon defence fending off the Mayo attack for the rest of the encounter.
There's nothing of significance won in January, but Mayo now have a spare weekend coming up next week as they prepare to open their league account against Kerry in Killarney in a fortnights time.
Mayo: K McLoughlin (0-6,5f ), J Doherty (0-4,3f ), A Freeman (1-0, 1P )
Roscommon: D Murtagh (1-3, 1f ), C Murtagh (0-4, 3f ), M Nally (1-0 ), C Cafferkey (0-2 ), E Smith (0-2 ), D Smith (0-1 )
Mayo: K O'Malley; C Barrett, D Vaughan, L Keegan; C Boyle, S Coen, D Drake; S O'Shea, B Moran; K McLoughlin, M Lyons, D O'Connor; E Varley, J Doherty, D Coen. Subs: A Freeman for M Lyons, K Rodgers for D Drake, C Crowe for D Coen, M Ronaldson for C Boyle, J Gibbons for B Moran.
Roscommon: D O'Malley; S McDermott, N Carty, N Collins; B Murtagh, N Daly, C Cafferkey; I Kilbride, M Healy; M Nally, E Smith, D Murtagh; D Smith, S Kilbride, C Murtagh. Subs: R Stack for B Murtagh, R Daly for R Stack (BC ), F Kelly for I Kilbride.
Ref: E O'Grady (Leitrim )