Mayo and Roscommon hand it to each other before taking a draw

Connacht sides will have to do it all again at Croke Park on August bank holiday Monday

Roscommon’s Fintan Cregg, Niall McInerney and Ronan Stack try block a late attempt by Cillian O’Connor of Mayo which went wide. Photo: James Crombie/Inpho

Roscommon’s Fintan Cregg, Niall McInerney and Ronan Stack try block a late attempt by Cillian O’Connor of Mayo which went wide. Photo: James Crombie/Inpho

 

Mayo 1-12 Roscommon 2-9

Belief can sometimes be a scarce thing in Croke Park and neither of these teams could quite find enough of it in the end, Roscommon and then Mayo staring both victory and defeat in the face before somehow surrendering to both.

So they’ll go at each other again, although Mayo surely feeling they left victory escape more than their opposition, Cillian O’Connor kicking short and then wide in the last two shots at goal in the final two minutes of injury time.

It made for a strangely subdued end to what had been a tense, nervous and at times gripping contest – particularly in the second half. But it was low scoring too, Mayo unquestionably having more scoring opportunities, but again not quite showing the belief to make them count.

The replay will take place on the August 7th - the bank holiday Monday - to decide who will play Kerry in the All-Ireland semi-final on August 20th.

Roscommon’s John McManus confronts Mayo’s Donal Vaughan. Photo: Oisin Keniry/Inpho
Roscommon’s John McManus confronts Mayo’s Donal Vaughan. Photo: Oisin Keniry/Inpho

Roscommon though rose to the occasion when it mattered most, kickstarting the game with two goals in the first 12 minutes, then clawing back Mayo’s narrow lead in the second half, a cool and deadly accurate free from Donal Smith on 73 minutes levelling it up for the final time.

Still there was ample time for a winner – 78 minutes on the clock when referee Joe McQuillan eventually blew up: O’Connor tried for it first with a free, from just outside the 45 minute line, which fell short, then had another pot shot which drifted just left and wide.

Roscommon had the last counter-attack but at that point then were hanging on, and more in suspense than belief. They certainly had the better of Mayo in those first 12 minutes and for the early part of the second half too, only to drift out of the game just when they needed to exert their dominance.

That is where experience counts, and Mayo – been here, done this – still don’t know the meaning of panic. Bidding to reach the All-Ireland semi-final for the seventh successive year, their belief in themselves was certainly more evident and something they’ll possibly carry even more of into the replay.

Still Roscommon’s realisation that escape from defeat can possibly instil more belief in themselves too, and they will need it. “Yeah, both teams had chances to win it,” admitted Roscommon captain Ciarán Murtagh. “We started well, then conceded a goal, but we’ll take the draw at this stage and battle on for the next week. It’s massive to get up for the quarter-final, get the big game into the legs.”

But you know what they say about keeping a good team down and Mayo now seem to gravitate towards an end result like this, having found themselves 2-2 to a point down after 12 minutes. They got themselves again on 25 minutes and went into the break two points up, but that was the biggest distance between both teams from then until the end.

The problem for Roscommon is that after scoring those two brilliant goals in the first 12 minutes, they then walked off stage at the sheer fright of it. First, a quite magical lob from Fintan Cregg dropped almost calmly into the Mayo net, on nine minutes; then three minutes later, Diarmuid Murtagh laid off to his brother Ciarán, who this time hammered the Mayo net from close range.

They didn’t score again until the 35th minute when the goalscorer notched up a free. The Roscommon defence also played too much of the game on razors edge, Mayo also finishing with 13 wides. Enda Smith and Diarmuid Murtagh only played their best football in small patches, and while Fintan Cregg had a fine game at midfield, too few others rose sufficiently to the occasion.

Nervous Mayo fans late in the game. Photo: James Crombie/Inpho
Nervous Mayo fans late in the game. Photo: James Crombie/Inpho

Their first real assault on the game came in the 13th minute when Lee Keegan fired home their goal, albeit partly directed into the net by Niall McInerney. He scored three more points as well in that half and scores from Colm Boyle and Andy Moran helped draw them level, but after that Mayo seemed to tire a little, their sixth game of the summer seemingly taking some toll.

Still the biggest factor in the second was belief – or rather lack of it. Roscommon came out and out scored the first two points and then backed off again, as if somehow fearful of a Mayo team they’ve haven’t beaten in the championships since 2001.

Only for Mayo too, when Paddy Durcan kicked them a point clear on 68 minutes, 1-12 to 2-8, the belief that has so often got them over the line in close contests like this deserted them. And once Smith levelled it up again it felt as neither team could believe what was unfolded before their eyes, and simply drew blank.

It is, in every sense, a game both teams deserve to play all over again.

MAYO: D Clarke; B Harrison, G Cafferkey, K Higgins; L Keegan (1-3), C Barrett, C Boyle (0-1); S O’Shea, A O’Shea; K McLoughlin, J Doherty (0-1), D O’Connor; P Durcan (0-2), C O’Connor (0-3, two frees), A Moran (0-2).

Subs: D Vaughan for Boyle (51 mins), C Loftus for Moran (58 mins), T Parsons for S O’Shea (62 mins), D Drake for Doherty (71 mins).

ROSCOMMON: C Lavin; S McDermott, J McManus, D Murray; N McInerney, S Mullooly, B Stack; F Cregg (1-1), E Smith (0-1); T O’Rourke, C Connolly, C Devaney (0-1); C Murtagh (1-2, two frees), D Murtagh (0-2, one free), N Kilroy.

Subs: D Smith (0-2) for Connolly (50 mins), C Compton for C Murtagh (58 mins), C Compton for D Murtagh (62 mins), I Kilbride for McDermott (63 mins), R Stack for Mullooly (70 mins).

Referee: Joe McQuillan (Cavan).

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