They made it hard for themselves by hitting wide after wide in the second half despite playing with a strong breeze behind their backs, but Mayo booked their place in the All Ireland u21 B Hurling Championship Final on September 10 on Saturday afternoon in Castlebar.
The wind howled and the rain teemed down on the small but hearty support for both sides who where treated to an exciting conclusion of a toughly contest game. Fergal Boland was the main man on show in the game with the Tooreen man slotting over seven points over the hour and he and David Kenny moved one step closer to claiming a memorable trio of All Ireland titles in a single year with this victory.
Mayo hit the ground running with Boland slotting over a free from distance with just 20 seconds gone on the clock. The visitors replied with a Dylan Keaveny point from a free seven minutes later as both sides found it hard to get going in the torrid conditions.
Mayo stretched out into a two point lead after 17 minutes with midfielder Sean Mulroy driving over a fine score for Mayo’s second and Boland slotted over their third not long after. Mayo went furhter in front when the busy Cory Scahill slipped the sliothar over the bar on the run.
But Roscommon weren’t going to bend the knee that early in the game and Dylan Keaveny pointed another free to leave just two points between the sides with six minutes left in the half and 60 seconds later the visitors hit the front. A long ball into the danger area was claimed by full forward, Jason Martin, despite Mayo doing their best to stop him swinging his hurl at the ball the St Dominic’s man was able to drop the ball to his boot and fire it past Martin Parsons in the Mayo goal.
Boland levelled it up not long after with a fine score as the game leapt into life just before the break, Ross’ hit the front again through a Conor Mulry point from tight out near the left touchline and Mayo responded on the scoreboard almost straight away through David Kenny who drove the ball over the bar from distance, but the last word on the half was left to Roscommon’s David Keaveney who pointed an injury time free to send his side in leading by one point at the break on a score of Mayo 0-6 Roscommon 1-4.
Mayo manager John Waldron made two changes at the break, with goalkeeper Martin Parsons being replaced by Ryan Kilbane after picking up a hand injury in the opening 30 minutes and Darragh Gallagher coming in for full forward Abbi Abbasi.
That man Boland got Mayo going on the scoreboard two minutes into the half with a well hit free and six minutes later David Harrision put Mayo back into the lead with an excellent score under pressure out near the left touch line. But worryingly for Mayo even at that early stage in the half was the amount of wides they were hitting. A fourth Keaveny free this time from well more than 60 meters out had the game tied up once more.
With a quarter of the game to go Boland edged Mayo in front once more, but the wides kept coming and you could feel there was the potential of a sting in the tail about to come as Mayo failed to make their dominance count. Boland and Martin exchanged points to keep Mayo’s lead at the bare minimum with 11 minutes to go, five minutes later the gape was stretched out to two points through another Boland effort.
With three minutes left to go on the stop watch the potential killer moment arrived, Roscommon wing forward Tomas Doyle charged down the left wing and drove the ball across into the Mayo danger area where Gearoid Keenan was arriving late and he batted the ball high to the Mayo net to put his side into the lead with time ticking down.
Mayo didn’t panic and Boland slotted a long range free to level it up a minute later and then right on full time Westport’s Zac O’Toole found some space out on the MacHale Road side of the ground, slipped a tackle and held his nerve to fire the ball over the bar and send Mayo to the home of hurling for an All Ireland final meeting with Meath on September 10.
Mayo: F Boland (0-8, 3f ), C Schaill (0-1 ), S Mulroy (0-1 ), Z O’Toole (0-1 ), D Kenny (0-1 ), D Harrison (0-1 )
Roscommon: D Keavney (0-4, 4f ), J Martin (1-1 ), G Keenan (1-0 ), C Mulry (0-1 )
Mayo: M Parsons; C Murphy, M Philips, J Lyons; D Harrison, D Kenny, C Murray; S Mulroy, J Gallagher; F Boland, C Scahill, Z O’Toole; S Forde, A Abbasi, J Coyne. Subs: R Kilbane for M Parsons, D Gallagher for A Abbasi, S Healy for S Forde.
Roscommon: K Kelly; T Treacy, M Beirne, K Crehan; W Boyle, J Fitzmaurice, G Egan; G Keenan, C Mahony; E Cogavin, D Keaveney, T Doyle; C Murly, J Martin, O Hession. Subs: L Clogher for W Boyle, J Brennan for C Mahony, A Finnerty for O Hession.
Ref: R McGann (Clare )