The sight of some supporters streaming out of MacHale Park at half-time on Saturday night told its own story.
A combination of gale-force winds, relentless driving rain and bitterly cold conditions, which made the most basic of skills almost impossible to execute, meant they decided to cut their losses and head for home.
The players, of course, had no such luxury and had to tough it out until the bitter end. Although Mayo manager James Horan did admit afterwards that some of his squad were ‘close to hypothermia’ when they returned to the dressing-room.
Which would have made the news that there was no hot water for them all the harder to take.
Just as well then that debutant Brian Reape had taken it upon himself to charge through the Roscommon defence — admittedly taking far more than four steps along the way — to drill in the match-winning goal on 65 minutes.
Reape’s stylish finish essentially settled the argument, and broke Roscommon’s stubborn resistance, although Shane Killoran’s deflected goal in injury-time meant that Mayo couldn’t rest easy until the final whistle sounded.
“We’re delighted to get the win,” said Horan afterwards as he reflected on Mayo’s first victory in any competition in Castlebar since they beat Derry after extra-time in an All-Ireland Qualifier in June, 2017.
“It was hard fought. Roscommon were playing defensive this year, you saw that in the FBD final. Then conditions like that, when you throw that all together it’s going to be a scrappy type of affair.
“We should have closed it out by four points, but let in a late goal. But we still deserved to win.”
It was hard to disagree with him. Although Roscommon’s decision to play with the hurricane behind them in the opening half meant they led by 0-5 to 0-1 at half-time, and held Mayo scoreless for 35 minutes.
Apart from Evan Regan’s free in the third minute, Mayo failed to trouble the score-keeper as they struggled to penetrate Roscommon’s well-organised defensive system.
Truth be told, at times they also struggled to solo, hop or play a straightforward pass such were the conditions.
Instead it was left to Colin Compton, Enda Smith (free), Shane Killoran and Donie Smith to pick off points for the Rossies while Cathal Cregg was denied a spectacular goal by a brilliant save from Rob Hennelly.
But the visitors also left some scores behind them in that first period, and their failure to add to their tally from the 18th minute to the 54th minute ended up costing them dearly.
Without 14 of last year’s championship squad, including a plethora of first-choice defenders and the Murtagh brothers in attack, Roscommon were understandably more focused on minding the house than taking Mayo on from all angles.
As a result, they never managed to open up enough daylight and the homeside eventually started to reel them back in.
After a slow-burning third quarter, Mayo finally got on level terms by the 58th minute with Diarmuid O’Connor, Jason Doherty (2 frees), Donie Vaughan and Paddy Durcan all posting scores from long-range.
Ironically, Colm Boyle being sent to the sin-bin in the 56th minute for a high challenge on Tadhg O’Rourke also coincided with their best spell of the game.
They rattled off 1-3 in those ten minutes, including scores from Doherty and full-back Brendan Harrison that pushed them 0-8 to 0-6 clear.
Reape’s well-taken goal left the Rossies five points down, and gave the home fans who were still there from the crowd of 10,941 something to shout about.
Substitute Ultan Harney did pull a score back shortly before being sent off after being booked twice in quick succession, while Shane Killoran’s late goal on 74 minutes came too late to spoil James Horan’s homecoming.
Inside, under the stand, Anthony Cunningham was asked about the bad weather and the fact that Roscommon had failed to get the better of Mayo for the sixth time since 1988.
“It was definitely one of the coldest and wettest [nights] that I’ve seen a game played in,” he offered.
“I’ve never seen the amount of players shivering at half-time really. They found it very hard to get their circulation going and we had to do some running around the dressing room, so it was really harsh.
“Bottom line is we’d be awful proud of the performance,” added the former Galway hurling manager.
Scorers for Mayo: J Doherty (0-3, 2 frees); B Reape (1-0); B Harrison, P Durcan, D O’Connor, D Vaughan, E Regan (free) (0-1 each)
Scorers for Roscommon: S Killoran (1-1); C Compton (0-2); E Smith (free), D Smith, C Cregg, U Harney (0-1 each)
MAYO: R Hennelly; E O’Donoghue, B Harrison, K Higgins; L Keegan, C Boyle, P Durcan; D O’Connor, D Vaughan; F Boland, A O’Shea; J Doherty; E Regan, B Reape, C Diskin.
Subs: A Moran for Boland (HT); S Coen for Vaughan (68); F McDonagh for Diskin (72); J McCormack for Boyle (inj, 73).
ROSCOMMON: D O’Malley; G Patterson, C Daly, E McGrath; C Hussey, N Daly, R Daly; T O’Rourke, E Smith; N Kilroy, C Compton, S Killoran; D Smith, C Lennon, C Cregg.
Subs: U Harney for Lennon (HT); H Darcy for Cregg (61); D Neary for McGrath (65); C Fitzmaurice for O’Rourke (68).
Referee: Barry Cassidy (Derry)