Mayo deservedly advanced to the Bank of Ireland Connacht Senior Football Championship final after dispensing with Roscommon on a 1-16 to 0-11 scoreline at Hyde Park.
In the end it was a relatively facile victory for John Maughan’s men, however, it didn’t look like it would turn out that way early in the first half. Mayo started slowly but crucially Roscommon’s dominance in the possession stakes wasn’t reflected on the scoreboard.
Mayo gradually found their stride and Conor Mortimer hit Val Daly’s men with a sucker punch in stoppage time when he fisted to the net from close range to give his side a 1-06 to 0-05 lead.
Ciarán McDonald, Andy Moran, BJ Padden, Conor Mortimer (the game’s top scorer with 1-04) and substitute James Gill impressed for a more fluid and assured Mayo after the break as an increasingly desperate Roscommon, with substitute Frankie Dolan on as a last throw of the dice, simply hadn’t the guile to engineer a serious comeback.
When Alan Dillon inexplicably hit a centrally positioned free wide from his hands in the first minute, one wondered whether this just might be Roscommon’s day.
At times they resembled Tyrone circa 2003, as they hunted in packs, snubbing out Mayo’s attempts to instigate a patient passing game.
Ger Heneghan opened the scoring for Roscommon when he knocked over a third minute free. Three minutes later, McDonald, Conor Mortimer and Stephen Carolan combined well before Padden finished the sleek move off with a fisted point from a tight angle.
Seamus O’Neill was winning good ball for Roscommon in midfield, however, Stephen Lohan’s wide in the seventh minute was symptomatic of their inability to turn this possession into scores.
Carolan has hauled down by David Casey in the eighth minute, as Dillon pointed from the resulting free to make up for his earlier miss and fire Mayo into a 0-02 to 0-01 lead.
Wing back Michael Ryan scored arguably Roscommon’s finest score of the day when he rampaged up the field to send over a glorious point from wide on the right.
Successive Mayo attacks ended in frees out as the Roscommon rearguard descended upon McDonald and Dillon in vulture-like fashion. If only their distribution had matched their discipline. Still, with Mayo sluggish and predictable, Roscommon fans must have been encouraged by their team’s start.
Heneghan stepped up to get his second point when he found himself in space just inside the Mayo half and in the 17th minute Roscommon when two points in front when Gary Cox scored a free from his hands after Grehan had been fouled.
Mayo attacks continued to flounder around the Roscommon half-back line but Roscommon profligacy meant that the game soon became a scrappy spectacle in desperate need of some thoughtful, composed play.
In the 25th minute, Padden and Andy Moran combined to fashion a goal chance for Carolan. However, an alert Shane Curran rushed out to narrow his angle and the forward opted for the point instead.
By the 30th minute, Mayo led again after Mortimer had pointed two frees in three minutes. Heneghan, though, levelled it with a peach of a point with the outside of the boot from just inside the Mayo half.
Three minutes later, more intelligent play from Padden released Andy Moran for a goal chance, however, his hesitation allowed Brian McNeela to get a vital tackle in.
Almost inevitably, Roscommon’s defence eventually crumbled. McDonald, who up until this point had been practically anonymous, picked out Padden with a trademark low pass. Padden careered down on goal from the left wing and, with the advancing Curran exposed, he squared to Conor Mortimer who had the simple task of fisting the ball to the back of the unguarded net.
Mortimer added another fisted effort - this time a point - before the half-time whistle sounded as Mayo went in leading 1-06 to 0-05.
Had John Rogers laid off a pass to Lohan just after the restart, instead of going for goal himself, Roscommon may well have launched a more determined second half challenge. He didn’t, and his blasted attempt blazed over for a point.
McDonald got in on the scoring act when he landed a blissful point as Mayo’s attractive build-up play began to reap rewards. Roscommon were forced to up their work rate as Mayo wove some intricate patterns – Andy Moran expertly sending over another point after good link-up play with sub James Gill.
A converted Cox free and a point from play from sub Dunning gave Roscommon renewed hope.
Grehan’s gargantuan point a minute later aroused defiant and hopeful roars from the Roscommon faithful but Gill, who on the evidence of this performance is likely to start the Connacht final, replied after James Nallen and Padden had done the approach work.
David Heaney had to foul Lohan to stop a near-certain goal as the crowd were treated to a lively final 20 minutes.
Two more Mayo points followed from Andy Moran and Padden before Heneghan landed one for Roscommon from a tough angle in the 54th minute.
Sub Trevor Mortimer emphatically signalled his arrival on the pitch with a point after more clever play from Andy Moran.
At the other end, Shane Fitzmaurice, Heaney and Keith Higgins were excelling in defence as Roscommon's lack of invention became all too apparent.
When McDonald sent an awe-inspiring point over from a free wide on the left with the outside of his boot in the 63rd minute it was curtains for the men in yellow and blue.
And the brothers Mortimer chipped in with two more points before the end to put the result beyond doubt.
Roscommon: S Curran; B McNeela, J Whyte, S McDermott; M Ryan (0-1), D Casey (captain), J Rogers (0-1); S O’Neill, B Higgins; K Mannion, F Grehan (0-1), E Kenny; G Cox (0-2, 2f), S Lohan, G Heneghan (0-05 3f). Subs: C Beirne on for McDermott (half-time), J Dunning (0-1) on for Cox (43), M Finneran on for E Kenny (47), F Dolan on for Beirne (58).
Mayo: D Clarke; K Higgins, D Heaney, G Ruane; C Moran, J Nallen, G Mullins; R McGarrity, S Fitzmaurice; A Moran (0-2), C McDonald (captain) (0-2, 1f), A Dillon (0-1 1f); C Mortimer (1-4, 3f), BJ Padden (0-3), S Carolan (0-1). Subs: James Gill (0-1) on for Dillon (34), T Mortimer (0-2) on for Carolan (56), B Moran on for Fitzmaurice (68).