SFC quarter-final: Connacht rivals must meet again

July 30, 2017

Roscommon's Sean Mullooly with Mayo's Aidan O'Shea.
©INPHO/Oisin Keniry.

A pulsating contest in the second of today's All-Ireland SFC quarter-finals between Mayo and Roscommon ended 1-12 to 2-09 at Croke Park.

Neither side deserved to lose the game, but both had chances to win it with Mayo guilty of some clear cut misses in the dying minutes of the game.

There was nothing between the teams throughout even though Roscommon made the better start, but Mayo soon got into their stride.

65,746 witnessed the game as pride and bragging rights were at stake amongst these Connacht rivals.

The performance of Lee Keegan, particularly in the opening half when he scored 1-03 from play was a major talking point of the game.

Roscommon couldn't have asked for a better start to the game as the led by 2-02 to 0-01 after eleven minutes, but failed to score for the next 23 minutes.

Mayo took their time to find their feet, but when they did they hit an unanswered 1-06 to move into the lead by the 31st minute.

Just like the first game, the conditions were greasy as the rain came lashing down on the Croke Park surface which saw players slipping all over the place.

However, that didn't seem to bother Roscommon who scored the opening two points of the contest as Fintan Cregg had them on the scoreboard with a well take effort after just 35 seconds.

Enda Smith then gathered the ball out the field and there looked to be little on, but the Rossies' midfielder swung his boot and the ball curled beautifully over the bar.

It was the perfect start for the underdogs, but Mayo finally got off the mark in the fifth minute when the impressive Keegan came forward and drilled the ball off the outside of his right boot straight between the posts.

Then the opening goal came, when Cregg won a high ball in, made space for himself and only he will know if he meant it, but the ball was dinked over the head of the helpless David Clarke and nestled in the net.

The Mayo defence were left to look at each other as to what happened, but things were about to get worse as just three minutes later, Diarmuid Murtagh played in his brother Ciarain and his low shot flew into the corner of the net, 2-02 to 0-01 after eleven minutes.

From the kick out the ball was worked down the field and who else but Keegan drove at the Roscommon defence, his shot took a slight deflection off Niall McInerney and left goalkeeper Colm Lavin stranded.

This was the start of a golden period for Mayo as a point from Keegan was sandwiched between two Cillian O'Connor frees. Keegan then brought his tally to 1-02 with a well taken point.

By the 22nd minute, Colm Boyle who was driving forward at every opportunity created and scored a good point to make it 2-02 to 1-04.

The sides were level shortly after as Andy Moran jinked his way into space to kick a fine point before an O'Connor free and yet another Keegan score made it 1-07 to 2-02 by the 33rd minute.

Roscommon went 23 minutes without a score and that was brought to a halt when Ciarain Murtagh's close range free was converted, but the last action of the half fell to Mayo's Jason Doherty who tagged on a score to leave it 1-08 to 2-03 at the break.

The second half started in much the same way as the first did as Roscommon started brightly, hitting three unanswered points as Conor Devaney and two Diarmuid Murtagh frees put them back in the lead.

Paddy Durcan finally got Mayo off the mark in the second half with a point in the 47th minute to draw the sides level once again, but a minute later and a Ciarain Murtagh free had the Rossies back in from 1-09 to 2-07.

Four minutes went without a score before Andy Moran kicked his second minor of the game and then sub Donie Smith who made a great contribution when introduced kicked the first of his two points after he received an excellent pass from his brother Enda.

In the 65th minute, Cillian O'Connor turned smartly to kick the equaliser and then Durcan who had missed an effort moments earlier held his nerve to drill the ball over the bar from distance.

Roscommon supporters had to wait until the 73rd minute for their next score and what a score is was as Donie Smith showed great composure to point a free from under the Cusack Stand.

Both sides had chances late on to win the game, but it was not to be and they most do it all again next weekend.

Mayo - D Clarke; B Harrison, G Cafferkey, K Higgins; P Durcan (0-2), C Barrett, C Boyle (0-1); S O'Shea, L Keegan (1-3); K McLoughlin, A O'Shea, D O'Connor; J Doherty (0-1), C O'Connor (0-3, 2f), A Moran (0-2). Subs: D Vaughan for C Boyle, C Loftus for A Moran, T Parsons for S O'Shea, S Coen for D O'Connor, D Drake for J Doherty.

Roscommon - C Lavin; D Murray, N McInerney, S McDermott; J McManus, S Mullooly, C Devaney (0-1); F Cregg (1-1), E Smith (0-1); T O'Rourke, C Murtagh (1-2, 0-2f), B Stack; N Kilroy, C Connolly, D Murtagh (0-2, 1f). Subs: D Smith (0-2, 1f) for C Connolly, C Compton for C Murtagh, C Compton for D Murtagh, I Kilbride for S McDermott, R Stack for C Devaney.

Referee - J McQuillan.

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