Roscommon send out signal of intent with Mayo win

Galway manager Kevin Walsh content with rout of GMIT

Roscommon manager John Evans sent a strong army to Castlebar to wrestle the points from Mayo and book their place in the final of the Connacht League after a 2-12 to 1-10 victory.

There’s rarely much love lost between these two counties and that was reflected with a number of off-the-ball skirmishes, adding to what was an invigorating contest.

Goals in either half put the seal of approval on the win for a physically stronger Roscommon team who were clearly hungry for their first win over their neighbours since 1986 - and they were fully deserving of it.

The turning point came fifteen minutes from time when a rare defensive mistake by Colm Boyle was punished by a clinical finish to the bottom corner by Mark Nally to fire Roscommon into a 2-9 to 0-8 lead.

A penalty from Alan Freeman ten minutes from time gave Mayo a spark of hope as they could afford to lose this game by two points and still make the final but Roscommon dug even deeper with some resolute defending, laying down a very clear marker for the 2015 championship.

A superbly taken goal from Diarmuid Murtagh separated the sides at half-time with Roscommon taking a 1-6 to 0-6 lead with them to the dressing room.

Senan Kilbride dished the ball off to Murtagh, who placed the ball in the top corner of the net on 20 minutes to put Roscommon well in control, a point immediately afterwards by the goalscorers giving them a 1-5 to 0-2 lead.

Mayo did pull back four points before the break thanks to scorer-in-chief Jason Doherty, who had four points in total, including three from frees, while Kevin McLoughlin chipped in with the other two Mayo scores in that half.

An experimental Galway outfit were far too classy for GMIT in their Connacht FBD League at Moycullen.

Prompted by midfielder Tom Flynn Galway dominated the first half scoring eight points without reply. GMIT substitute Alan Meenaghan eventually opened the students’ account, but Galway’s 0-8 to 0-1 interval advantage was merited.

Patrick Sweeney made an impact following his introduction netting a 41st minute Galway goal to seal the deal - Galway 1-13 GMIT 0-5.

Galway boss Kevin Walsh is happy that the Tribesmen will get another fixture in the decider against Roscommon next Sunday before selecting a panel for their Allianz Football League Division Two campaign.

“The application has been very good from every single player,” Walsh admitted. “I am sure there will be lots of guys disappointed in the next 10 days or so. It is important that they know it won’t be the end of the road for those not in the league panel.”

Meanwhile Adrian Marren pounced for Sligo's match winning goal twenty minutes into the second half of their narrow 2-9 to 1-10 victory over Leitrim at a sunny Markievicz Park.

Ciaran Gilheaney opened the first half scoring with a Leitrim point from play in the fourth minute but the right corner forward had to leave the action following a knock six minutes later.

Adrian Marren who bagged four of the host’s first half points got the Yeatsmen off the mark on five minutes and a point by the same man deep in first-half stoppage time left it all square at the interval.

The entire Leitrim defence played as a superb unit making Sligo battle for their scores up front. They could well have been rewarded for their efforts only for a goal by Marren on fifty minutes proved decisive for Sligo.

Nonetheless Leitrim boss Shane Ward was happy with the workout.

“We are building again and getting a look at players , every game you go to play you go to win ,” he said.

Sligo manager Niall Carew added; “Leitrim are hard to break down and they hurt you on the counter attack .We mixed experienced players with a few newcomers and that went quite well for us.”

In Sunday's remaining FBD League game NUIG had an outside chance of reaching the FBD League final but they never really looked like achieving the required landslide win over Sligo IT at the Connacht Centre of Excellence at Ballyhaunis.

There was little between the sides for much of the opening half but Sligo had most of the possession and it took points from Donegal county star Ryan McHugh and Stuart Johnson to eventually put the Sligo side two ahead by the end of the opening quarter.

However this quickly changed as Sligo IT lost influential Galway wing back Paul Varley with a black card.

The closing stages of the half saw Galway score three unanswered points through Niall Lee, Cian Connolly and Christopher Davey to leave the sides level at half time.

Both sides traded points in a stale second-half before Peader O Griofa put the Galway students ahead with a minute left. Cian Clinton then levelled with a free for Sligo who had two further chances to win the game but were off target with both - Sligo IT 0-8 NUIG 0-8.