Aidan O’Shea’s early goal helps Mayo book Connacht final date with Galway

Roscommon never led once O’Shea raised the green flag in the eighth minute in front of nearly 14,000 at Dr Hyde Park

Connacht SFC semi-final: Roscommon 0-13 Mayo 1-15

The scorecard was middling for Mayo, but the scoreboard was all that mattered. Job done, move on, but nobody will be writing any ballads about this one.

It was a straightforward Connacht SFC semi-final win for Mayo at a sun-drenched Dr Hyde Park — Ryan O’Donoghue top-scored with 0-7, Aidan O’Shea chipped in with 1-1 and Roscommon never led once.

From the moment of O’Shea’s eighth-minute goal until full-time, Roscommon managed to get level three times, but Mayo quickly nudged their noses back in front on each occasion.

The visitors led 1-6 to 0-8 at half-time but on the warmest weekend of the year so far, only rarely did this encounter threaten to reach championship fever in front of 13,967 spectators at the newly upgraded Hyde Park.


“It’s our ticket to the final, obviously, and that was what we wanted,” said Mayo manager Kevin McStay afterwards. “It was a mixed bag on the performance; first half, not happy as in we were probably five out of 10 maybe, max.

“But the second half, especially in the third quarter, we moved it up a gear. We tidied up a few things at half-time and drove on, and that’s I think when we did the damage.

“We could have handled the finish better, so I don’t know, maybe six and half, seven out of 10, overall. Room to improve.”


Roscommon registered five second-half wides, dropped three efforts short and hit the upright with another – so it’s not like the home side didn’t create scoring chances, it’s more that they failed to execute those opportunities.

Enda Smith blazed a goal chance wide of the near post just after the hour mark and that miss almost summed up Roscommon’s day — they had nine wides to Mayo’s five.

“There’s no home truths needed, maybe a bag of balls per man is needed, but I don’t need to tell any of these boys that so many wides at this level won’t be good enough,” sighed Roscommon manager Davy Burke.

“Jesus, any day you win 38 per cent of your opposition’s kickouts you expect to come out the right side, and we didn’t.

“Our shooting really let us down today and it’s something we really, really have to go after because overall I thought our defensive effort was good, both kickouts were good.”

Mayo’s two best periods of the game came at the start of each half. O’Shea’s goal put them 1-1 to no score ahead early on. Indeed, the Breaffy man was involved in all of their opening three scores and proved a real handful for Roscommon during the hour he was on the field, with his contribution recognised with a rousing ovation from the Mayo fans as he made his way off the pitch late on.

O’Shea showed some good poise to finish off his goal chance, though Roscommon will wonder how they allowed him to travel across the face of goal before finishing neatly back across Conor Carroll to the bottom corner.

And on a weekend when the role of goalkeepers moved from under the crossbar to under the microscope, Mayo’s Colm Reape threw himself under the lens when he was turned over on the Roscommon 45m line.

Roscommon tried to capitalise, with Smith driving a long ball upfield to Ben O’Carroll. However, by the time O’Carroll was able to get his shot off, Mayo had scrambled sufficient players back — including Reape — to snuff out the danger.

Having trailed by the minimum at the interval, Roscommon drew level after the break but when man of the match O’Donoghue pushed Mayo back ahead in the 43rd minute, the visitors controlled the tempo of the contest thereafter. It never felt like the result would be anything other than a Mayo win.

Mayo, who last won a Connacht title in 2021, will now face reigning champions Galway in this year’s provincial final at Pearse Stadium in a fortnight.

McStay expects to have both Cillian and Diarmuid O’Connor (who missed the semi-final because of injury) available for the trip to Salthill — and he hopes significant numbers of Mayo fans will also be making the journey.

“We want to win it, even our fans, I think, need to understand what winning the Connacht means as well,” he said.

“It’s huge for us. Myself and Stephen [Rochford], as senior coaches, are around a long time, I’ve never won one with Mayo. There are a lot of young players in our group who haven’t won Connacht championships.

“There are a lot of young players need that support, we didn’t hear it today for whatever reason, it was a bit subdued, we felt, and we really want our supporters to come out in big numbers for this final against Galway. It’s a significant moment for the group, it really is.”

With Mayo, when is it ever not.

Mayo: Colm Reape; Jack Coyne, Rory Brickenden, Sam Callinan; Paddy Durcan (0-1), David McBrien, Donnacha McHugh; Stephen Coen, Matthew Ruane; Jack Carney, Ryan O’Donoghue (0-7, three frees, one mark), Jordan Flynn; Fergal Boland (0-2), Aidan O’Shea (1-1), Tommy Conroy (0-2). Subs: Enda Hession for McHugh (h-t); Conor Loftus (0-2) for Durcan (49 mins), Bob Tuohy for O’Shea (60 mins), Paul Towey for Flynn (64 mins), Pádraig O’Hora for Coyne (66 mins).

Roscommon: Conor Carroll; David Murray, Brian Stack, Niall Higgins; Niall Daly (0-1), Ruaidhrí Fallon, Eoin McCormack (0-1); Enda Smith, Ultan Harney; Dylan Ruane, Daire Cregg (0-4, two frees), Ronan Daly; Ben O’Carroll (0-1), Diarmuid Murtagh (0-5, two frees), Donie Smith (0-1). Subs: Patrick Gavin for Murray (inj) (30 mins), Tadhg O’Rourke for Ruane (50 mins), Shane Cunnane for R Daly (60 mins), Conor Cox for D Smith (64 mins), James Fitzpatrick for Harney (66 mins).

Referee: Seán Hurson (Tyrone).

Gordon Manning

Gordon Manning

Gordon Manning is a sports journalist, specialising in Gaelic games, with The Irish Times