There was no disguising the spring in Roscommon’s step as they left MacHale Park yesterday with the victory they needed to qualify for Sunday’s FBD Connacht League final against Galway.
It was Roscommon’s first competitive win over Mayo in a senior fixture at the Castlebar venue since 1986.
Goals in either half from Diarmuid Murtagh and Mark Nally proved decisive as the winners withstood a late home rally to get the victory they needed.
“It’s great to get the extra game next weekend against Galway, especially with the National League coming up,” said Roscommon manager John Evans afterwards. “It was a good tough game and we played some lovely football. We had kept our powder dry for today.”
Roscommon forwards Diarmuid and Ciarán Murtagh were the leading lights for the winners, but the team’s defensive display laid the foundation for the success as they shut down Mayo’s experimental attack.
The Connacht champions managed just two points from play over the hour and found it extremely difficult to make inroads.
“We knew there was going to be a step-up in quality and intensity today, we had played two colleges teams up to this, and that proved to be the case,” commented Mayo joint manager Pat Holmes.
“But it served a purpose for us, we always said that the FBD League was about looking at players and it has done that.”
Roscommon led at half-time 1-6 to 0-6 with Diarmuid Murtagh’s well-taken goal on 19 minutes the difference between the sides.
Roscommon were still setting the pace midway through the second-half, ahead 1-9 to 0-8, when Mark Nally pounced on a loose pass from Colm Boyle to finish past Mayo goalkeeper Kenneth O’Malley.
The Murtaghs, Diarmuid and Ciarán, tagged on further scores to push the visitors ahead by eight points, and Mayo were left with amountain to climb.
Alan Freeman converted a penalty on 53 minutes to make things interesting, but Roscommon were not to be denied.
Meanwhile, Holmes also confirmed that former Irish rugby international Gavin Duffy was not part of Mayo’s match-day squad yesterday due to work commitments with Connacht rugby in Galway.
MAYO: K O’Malley; C Barrett, D Vaughan, L Keegan; C Boyle, S Coen, D Drake; S O’Shea, B Moran; K McLoughlin (0-6, 5fs), M Lyons, D O’Connor; E Varley, J Doherty (0-4, 3fs), D Coen.
Subs: A Freeman (1-0 pen) for Lyons (35); K Rogers for Drake (44); M Ronaldson for D Coen (46); C Crowe for Boyle (46); J Gibbons for Moran (48).
ROSCOMMON: D O’Malley; S McDermott, N Carty, N Collins; B Murtagh, N Daly, C Cafferkey (0-2); I Kilbride, M Healy; M Nally (1-0), E Smith (0-1), D Murtagh (1-4, 3fs); D Smith (0-1), S Kilbride, C Murtagh (0-4, 1f).
Subs: R Stack for B Murtagh (47); R Daly for Stack (51); F Kelly for I Kilbride (55).
Referee: E O’Grady (Leitrim).