Connacht SFC: Mayo come from behind to scrape over Rossies
June 08, 2014
Roscommon's Neil Collins and Kevin McLoughlin of Mayo
A late flurry of points from Cillian O'Connor (free) and Kevin McLoughlin saw Mayo fall over the line ahead of Roscommon in the Connacht SFC semi-final at Dr Hyde Park today.
The quality of football on show may have left a lot to be desired and James Horan will know better than anyone that his side were lucky to come away with a Connacht final ticket in their back-pocket but he will be pleased with the character shown by his players in the face of adversity.
The team in green and red, chasing a fourth Connacht SFC title in-a-row, looked to be staring the exit door in the face when they trailed by three points late on but captain Andy Moran came off the bench to inspire a rally which culminated in a one-point win.
Shooting into the scoreboard end at Dr Hyde Park and playing with the aid of a slight breeze, Mayo went in at the break with a slender 0-4 to 0-3 advantage
After the 12-point drubbing they suffered at the hands of Mayo at the same stage 12 months ago, John Evans' side adopted a defensive gameplan and they were successful in frustrating their opponents during a dour opening 35 minutes but that came at the cost of a cutting edge up front.
Mayo opened the scoring through Jason Doherty in the 2nd minute but midfielder Kevin Higgins curled over a leveller for the hosts three minutes later.
A foul on full-forward Alan Freeman gifted Cillian O'Connor a simple tap over free to edge Mayo back in front.
The primrose and blues' forwards saw very little possession in the first half with the Mayo full-back line of Tom Cunniffe, Ger Cafferkey and Keith Higgins well on top.
But, at the other end of the field, the reigning champions were guilty of squandering a number of gilt-edged scoring opportunities as they accumulated 10 first half wides compared to Roscommon's four.
Mayo went 13 minutes without scoring before O'Connor converted his second free to leave his team 0-3 to 0-1 up after 21 minutes.
With two minutes to go to the interval, Senan Kilbride raised Roscommon's second white flag but Kevin McLoughlin and Donal Shine (free) exchanged points on the stroke of half-time and James Horan's charges went in at the break with a slender one-point lead.
The second half was just two minutes old when a half goal chance presented itself to Roscommon's Senan Kilbride but the number 13 settled for an equalising point.
Straight from the resulting kick-out, Cillian O'Connor sent over this third pointed free of the contest but the game was blown wide open in the 43rd minute when Roscommon left half-back Ciaran Cafferkey roamed forward unchecked before dispatching a low shot past the dive of Rob Hennelly.
Mayo responded to that set-back in impressive fashion with frees from O'Connor and McLoughlin leaving the scoreboard reading level for the fourth time by the 49th minute - Mayo 0-7, Roscommon 1-4.
McLoughlin converted his second free in as many minutes to restore Mayo's one-point lead with 20 minutes left on the clock but two quick-fire points from substitute Diarmuid Murtagh off his left foot had Roscommon back in front.
James Horan sent on experienced duo Moran and Alan Dillon as youngsters Conor O'Shea and Diarmuid O'Connor both failed to make an impression but Roscommon opened up a two-point cushion in the 61st minute with Senan Kilbride kicking over a straight-forward free following a foul by Keith Higgins on Enda Smith.
Another Roscommon substitute, Mark Nally, got in on the scoring act for Roscommon but captain Moran kept Mayo's hopes alive with two points in as many minutes to bring it back to a one-point game by the 63rd minute.
Seamus O'Shea landed a long-range equalising point in the 66th minute and entering the last minute Mark Nally fouled Donal Vaughan to give O'Connor the opportunity to put Mayo back in pole position.
The two-time Young Footballer of the Year made no mistake and McLoughlin doubled their advantage before Diarmuid Murtagh pulled back a point via a free-kick to reduce the deficit to the minimum.
Mayo held on for a hard-earned win and advance to a provincial final against the winners of Galway and Sligo but they will have to raise their game considerably in the months ahead if they are to go one step further than last year in the Sam Maguire Cup race.
Mayo - R Hennelly; T Cunniffe, G Cafferkey, K Higgins; L Keegan, C Boyle, D Vaughan; A O'Shea, S O'Shea (0-1); D O'Connor, C O'Shea, J Doherty (0-1); K McLoughlin (0-4, 2f), A Freeman, C O'Connor (0-5f). Subs: A Moran (0-2) for C O'Shea, A Dillon for D O'Connor, M Sweeney for A Freeman, R Feeney for J Doherty.
Roscommon - D O'Malley; S McDermott, N Carty, N Collins; I KIlbride, N Daly, C Cafferkey (1-0); C Shine, K Higgins (0-1); R Stack, D Shine (0-1f), D O'Gara; S Kilbride (0-3, 1f), C Cregg, C Murtagh. Subs: E Smith for I Kilbride, F Cregg for D Shine, D Murtagh (0-3, 1f) for C Murtagh, M Nally (0-1) for D O'Gara, D Smith for S Kilbride, M Finneran for C Cregg.
Referee - E Kinsella.
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