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By Kevin Egan at the University of Galway Connacht GAA Air Dome
Mayo picked up the first silverware of the 2023 football season in the University of Galway Connacht GAA Air Dome tonight, after the steady hand of a couple of proven stalwarts saw them over the line in the face of a late surge from Roscommon.
After an enjoyable FBD competition where scoring had been high and the action had been frenzied in each of the three games played prior to tonights final, this was a much more cagey, measured affair, where neither side really hit the high notes up front.
An early point from Fionn McDonagh after just 20 seconds suggested that another free-flowing shootout was in store, but instead the next 15 minutes passed by without a score, as both sides probed patiently but struggled to open up space through packed defences.
Dead ball scores from Ryan ODonoghue and Diarmuid OConnor pushed the lead out to three before Roscommon finally got off the mark in the 21st minute, Niall Daly the scorer after a slick passing moved ended with Ciarn Lennon playing in the Pdraig Pearses man.
That was to be a rare moment of quality at that end of the pitch however, As the Mayo backs locked down their direct opponents, save for a glorious shot from Diarmuid Murtagh just before the break.
By that stage, Mayo had put five points on the board, while the also found the Roscommon net through Ryan ODonoghue, though the score was ruled out by referee Michael McGirl following consultation with his umpires.
Another majestic strike from Murtagh after half-time suggested that Roscommon might be ready to get into the game, but instead Mayo settled about their work, and good straight running lines down central channels opened up chances that led to points for Conor McStay and ODonoghue.
Keith Doyle, by some distance Roscommons best player in this competition, fired over a towering kick to drag the gap back to three points, but it was only when both managers went for some heavyweight reinforcement that the scoring rate started to really pick up.
Conor Cox and Donie Smith fired over two points each for the Rossies, with the second of Smiths struck from the left-hand sideline to make it 0-10 to 0-8, but at the other end, Aidan OShea had set up one point for Jordan Flynn, while Stephen Coen also strode forward to split the uprights.
With two points between the sides and Mayo down to 14 men due to Rory Brickendens second yellow card, the stage was set for Roscommon to try and pip their western neighbours at the finish line. Instead Cillian OConnor, introduced with 13 minutes to play, slotted two vital late scores either side of a fine kick from Conor Loftus, to clinch the win.
Scorers for Mayo: Ryan ODonoghue 0-4 0-3f, 0-1m, Cillian OConnor 0-2 0-1f, Fionn McDonagh 0-1, Conor McStay 0-1, Diarmuid OConnor 0-1 45, Jordan Flynn 0-1, Stephen Coen 0-1, Enda Hession 0-1, Conor Loftus 0-1.
Scorers for Roscommon: Diarmuid Murtagh 0-2, Conor Cox 0-2 0-1f, Donie Smith 0-2, Niall Daly 0-1, Keith Doyle 0-1, Peter Gillooly 0-1.
Mayo: Colm Reape; Jack Coyne, Rory Brickenden, Enda Hession; Donnacha McHugh, Conor Loftus, Stephen Coen; Jordan Flynn, Diarmuid OConnor; Fionn McDonagh, Bob Tuohy, Bryan Walsh; Aiden Orme, Conor McStay, Ryan ODonoghue.
Subs: Jack Carney for McDonagh 29, Aidan OShea for Tuohy 47, Eoghan McLaughlin for Walsh 49, Paul Towey for McStay 51, Sam Callinan for McHugh 53, Cillian OConnor for Orme 57, Ruair Keane for Hession 63, Ethan Gibbons for ODonoghue 68, Fenton Kelly for Loftus 703, Joe Tuohy for Coen 703.
Roscommon: Conor Carroll; Conor Hussey, Conor Daly, Eoin McCormack; Robbie Dolan, Brian Stack, Niall Daly; Ridhr Fallon, Keith Doyle; Cian Glennon, Ciarin Murtagh, Dylan Ruane; Diarmuid Murtagh, Ciarn Lennon, Paul Carey.
Subs: Donie Smith for C Murtagh half-time, Conor Cox for Carey half-time, Adam McDermott for D Murtagh 44, Darragh Heneghan for Glennon 51, Connell Kennelly for Ruane 51, Colin Walsh for N Daly 56, Ben OCarroll for Lennon 56, Paul McGrath for Fallon 68, Peter Gillooly for McCormack 70, Dylan Gaughan for OCarroll 702, McCormack for Gaughan 704, blood.
Referee: Michael McGirl Leitrim
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