Conor Cox the man as Rossies edge Mayo
Roscommon 2-12 Mayo 0-17
Not even a ghost point against them could prevent Roscommon from beating Mayo in MacHale Park on Saturday evening.
Not even a black card that left them with 14 men for the last five minutes could deny them. Not even the will of Mayo, not even the Castlebar roar.
Nothing could stop Roscommon in this Connacht semi-final and Mayo knew they were in for it from the word go. Balls fumbled, wides kicked, passes misplaced. The Rossies smelled blood.
There was a telling moment early on.
Cathal Cregg was out in front of Keith Higgins but he wasn't looking for support, he wasn't looking to pass out the field. It's not too often the Ballyhaunis man is rounded but Cregg backed himself.
He turned and dashed, Higgins was left in the vapours and before he'd even hit the roof of the net the whole of county Roscommon could feel it.
Now THAT is how you finish them.
Cathal Cregg takes off, leaves Keith Higgins for dust and BANG 💣pic.twitter.com/JvzMNrtvvC
— GAA JOE (@GAA__JOE) May 25, 2019
Mayo were nervous. After Ultan Harney's second, they were shell shocked.
Ultan Harney with Roscommon's second goal! pic.twitter.com/8W35Ip0H7w
— The GAA (@officialgaa) May 25, 2019
They would always make a fist of it though. Lee Keegan was coming into it, Aidan O'Shea was starting to play and Darren Coen was kicking them.
Roscommon however, were on a different level. That's where Conor Cox, the Listowel Emmett's club man comes into play.
Built like a brick wall, there was little Brendan Harrison could do. For a big man, Cox's movement in behind and all around was dashing and once he gets the ball in his hands he's next to impossible to stop.
He kicked a couple of gorgeous scores in that first half and that took them into the half-time interval leading by two.
Mayo came back into it, as they always do. Evan Regan kicked the first point of the half from a free before Darren O'Malley, the nerveless Rosommon goalkeeper notched his third of the day.
Then came the ghost point, Darren Coen's effort from out by the sideline clearly tailed off to the left and wide and the umpire's decision to award a point surely underlines the need for hawk-eye in grounds away from Croke Park and Semple Stadium.
Andy Moran and Cox traded scores before Durcan levelled it up to set up a frantic finale. Enda Smith's introduction rose Roscommon once more though as they made a burst for the finish line.
David Murray's black card looked as if it would be costly with Roscommon's six subs used, but Fintan Cregg got the chance and with the pressure on he kicked it straight over the black spot.
Mayo got their chance, but Kevin McLoughlin's effort tailed wide and that would be the last kick of the game. Roscommon winning their first competitive game of football at MacHale Park since 1986.
Robert Hennelly, Chris Barrett, Brendan Harrison, Keith Higgins, Patrick Durcan, Michael Plunkett, Lee Keegan, Matthew Ruane, Aidan O’Shea, Fergal Boland, Jason Doherty, Diarmuid O’Connor, Evan Regan, Darren Coen, Kevin McLoughlin
Andy Moran for Evan Regan (50) Conor Diskin for Darren Coen (55) Conor Loftus for Jason Doherty (68)
Matthew Ruane (0-2) Darren Coen (0-5) Jason Doherty (0-1) Paddy Durcan (0-1) Evan Regan (0-4, 0-2f)) Lee Keegan (0-2) Andy Moran (0-1) Fergal Boland (0-2)
Darren O’Malley, David Murray, Sean Mullooly, Conor Daly, Niall Daly, Conor Hussey, Ronan Daly, Tadgh O’Rourke, Shane Killoran, Hubert Darcy, Cathal Cregg, Niall Kilroy, Ultan Harney, Conor Cox, Andrew Glennon
Diarmuid Murtagh for Andrew Glennon (HT), Brian Stack for Ronan Daly (50) Donal Smith for Ultan Harney, Enda Smith for Cregg (50) Fintan Cregg for Shane Killoran (58)
Cathal Cregg (1-0) Andrew Glennon (0-1) Ultan Harney (1-0) Conor Daly (0-1) Conor Cox (0-5, 0-2f) Darren O'Malley (0-3f) Enda Smith (0-1), Fintan Cregg (0-1)