The long road had a few more miles added to it last Saturday evening in Limerick when Mayo were brought to extra time for the second time in three games, and on Sunday they head into their seventh All Ireland quarter final in as many years looking to take down the newly crowned Connacht champions.
In the championship so far this year, Mayo have played five games - two of them needing extra time to decide them, that is 390 minutes of championship football (not including the injury time added on at the end of any of the halves in those games ) while Roscommon have played just twice so far this year (140 minutes ) to reach the same juncture. In those games they ran the sword through both Leitrim in the Connacht semi-final, running out 2-23 to 1-9 winners, and then their devastating Connacht final display against Galway where they racked up another 2-15. If they had taken their chances could have had an even bigger tally on the scoreboard come the final whistle.
The short turnaround after coming out of such a competitive and draining contest as they were in last Saturday, could be a worry for Mayo - but over the past number of years they have had to dig deep into their stamina and souls to dig out results when it was needed. The only injury concern to come out of that win over the rebels this week was Tom Parsons who picked up a hamstring issue, but the Charlestown man was able to come through the full 100 minutes in the Gaelic Grounds last weekend and it is hoped that he'll be ready for action come Sunday.
This novel meeting between Mayo and Roscommon is the first time the two counties have met outside of provincial action. Throwing into the mix is that former Mayo star Kevin McStay is in charge of the primrose and blue men and will be pitting his wits against one of his former charges, Stephen Rochford, who was a Mayo u21 in 1999 when McStay was in charge of his home county's u21 team. Both men have also claimed All Ireland senior club titles as managers with McStay leading St Brigid's from Roscommon to the Andy Merrigan Cup in 2013 and Rochford guiding Galway's Corofin to the title two years later, a championship Rochford won himself as a player also back in 2001 with his native club Crossmolina Deel Rovers.
The last time the sides met in the championship was the 2014 Connacht semi-final which was won by a Mayo side managed by James Horan in his final year in charge of the team. Mayo were narrow winners that day, coming out on top on a scoreline of 0-13 to 1-9 in Hyde Park, with Kevin McLoughlin (0-4 ), Cillian O'Connor (0-5 ), and Andy Moran (0-2 ) who came off the bench Mayo's leading scorers. The sides have met twice so far this year, in the FBD League and the National Football League, both games won by Mayo. In the FBD encounter in Kiltoom, Mayo trailed by eight with not long left but a rousing fightback led by two goals from Andy Moran in the closing minutes to see Mayo home on a score of 4-11 to 2-16. The national league meeting of the sides was a much less exciting affair with Mayo winning that one 1-19 to 0-14 in MacHale Park.