Next Sunday’s FBD League final will be a repeat of last year’s decider between Galway and Roscommon as the two neighbouring counties each made it three wins from three this afternoon at the expense of GMIT and Mayo respectively.
Mayo enjoyed plenty of possession around the middle third of the field against Roscommon in McHale Park but the Rossies were that bit stronger close to goal at both ends, and it was that supremacy that formed the main platform for their 0-13 to 0-10 win at the Castlebar venue.
Their inside forward line of Cathal Cregg, Diarmuid Murtagh and Senan Kilbride all looked sharp in the early stages as the visitors posted the first four points without reply, while they could have led by more but for a few poor wides, both from play and from frees.
Mayo, operating without many of their frontline attackers incluing Aidan O’Shea, Cillian O’Connor and Diarmuid O’Connor, were comparatively toothless in attack and were heavily reliant on the freetaking of Conor Loftus to keep them in the game.
Mayo manager Stephen Rochford will be particularly concerned by injuries sustained by defenders Keith Higgins and Kevin Keane in the opening half as the pair exited the fray with knee and shoulder injuries – afterwards, Rochford’s preliminary assessment was that neither player will be fit for the early rounds of the Allianz League, while Higgins was to undergo a scan tonight or tomorrow to assess the scale of the damage.
Mayo’s greater share of possession meant that Roscommon led by just two points, 0-6 to 0-4 at the break, but that gap was doubled after the restart. Mayo continued to press forward but a final tally of just four points from play illustrated the difficulty that they had against Roscommon’s excellent defensive play.
Galway will have home advantage for the decider after they enjoyed a 0-16 to 1-5 win over GMIT, though the students will look back with regret at their inability to convert more of their chances in the first half. They returned just four points from thirteen opportunities, while Galway shot six from ten and led by 0-6 to 0-4 at the interval. Eddie Hoare top scored for the Tribesmen with 0-6, all frees, while captain and man of the match Danny Cummins weighed in with three points.
Having faced into the wind in the first half, GMIT would have fancied their chances of turning things around at a cold and wet Tuam Stadium, but Galway played their best football in the third quarter, kicking seven points without reply. The result was long-assured by the time Martin Shaughnessy slotted a late consolation goal for the students.
Leitrim will take some confidence into their upcoming Allianz League campaign after they ended their January run with a 1-11 to 1-6 win over Sligo at Ballinamore. Their chances of enjoying some success in 2016 were greatly boosted by the return of Emlyn Mulligan to their panel and the veteran attacker proved his worth here with a taly of 1-3, his goal coming from a second half penalty.
Sligo were never at the races and the match crept into injury time at the end of the second half before anyone other than Niall Murphy got on the scoresheet for the Yeats County. Brendan Egan’s dismissal for a second bookable offence after 42 minutes left them with a mountain to climb and they were a beaten team when Brian Egan added their goal.
The final game of the afternoon saw NUIG easily overturn IT Sligo by 4-10 to 0-6 in a dead rubber contest at the Connacht GAA centre of excellence at Bekan.