NHL Division 2B: Mayo have too much for Roscommon
NATIONAL HURLING LEAGUE DIVISION 2B
By Daire Walsh
Mayo maintained their impressive start to Division 2B of the National Hurling League with a convincing 11-point triumph over provincial rivals Roscommon at Dr Hyde Park on Saturday afternoon.
This result moves Derek Walsh’s green and red to the summit of the table - albeit with a game more played than Kildare, who began their campaign with a comprehensive defeat of Donegal in Newbridge. Now solely an inter-county hurler, Keith Higgins was Mayo’s top-scorer on the day with an impressive 1-5 haul.
He had a helping hand from fellow inside forward Shane Boland, who contributed four points to his side’s final tally. Cathal Freeman, Peadar McCrann and Corey Scahill also chipped in handsomely as eight different players got their names on the scoresheet for the victors.
Roscommon relied upon Cathal Dolan for the bulk of their scores, while Jack Lohan also rattled the net over the course of the action. However, this was the primrose and blue’s second consecutive reversal in Division 2B and they will need to produce a win out of somewhere to fend off the threat of relegation.
Despite what the final scoreline may suggest, this game wasn’t always plain sailing for Mayo. Higgins (from a long-distance free), Adrian Phillips and Boland all found the target early on, but Dolan’s dead-ball prowess ensured the Roses remained in contention.
A brace of Boland frees in the second-quarter offered Mayo some breathing space, before Dolan fired back with a two-point salvo of his own. This meant the sides were all square with 30 minutes gone on the clock.
The county’s footballers are well-known for their scoring bursts and the Mayo hurlers showed they are more than capable of going for the jugular by registering six unanswered points in the closing moments of the first half. Higgins (two), Kieran Kiely and Freeman were amongst the scorers, while - in a repeat of his heroics last weekend - goalkeeper Gerard Kelly raised a white flag at the opposite end of the pitch.
Whereas he registered a point from play off a quick one-two against Derry, on this occasion he split the uprights from a free to ensure that Mayo led 0-11 to 0-5 at the midway stage in the action.
Nevertheless, the opening 35 minutes was relatively low-key - at least by comparison to what transpired in the second period. Roscommon needed a quick score to halt Mayo’s momentum and they got it when Lohan fired beyond the reach of Kelly just two minutes after the restart.
This was a test of the visiting team’s mettle, but they responded in fine style. Freeman dissected the posts with an exceptional effort, before his side gained a temporary numerical advantage as a consequence of Sean Trundle’s sin-binning.
The Roscommon corner-back hauled down Boland as he was about to pull the trigger and Freeman had a glorious opportunity to create further daylight between the teams. Yet his penalty was tipped over the crossbar by Roscommon custodian Enda Lawless, who also denied Boland off similar strike moments later.
The hosts were coming under intense pressure, however, and it seemed like only a matter of time until Mayo rattled the net. Their three-pointer finally arrived on 45 minutes, when a speculative Higgins shot on 45 minutes crept past Lawless, who wasn’t helped by the torrential rain that had descended upon the Roscommon Town venue.
This created the platform for Mayo to push forward and with Boland, Scahill, Brian Morley and defensive powerhouse McCrann all finding the range, they were convincing winners in the end.
While Mayo’s attacking sextet performed well as a unit, the likes of Sean Regan, David Kenny and Daniel Huane were every bit as crucial further out the pitch.
They will now aim to continue their impressive form next Sunday, when Donegal play host to the westerners in a round three clash at O’Donnell Park, Letterkenny. Although the Ulster men suffered a heavy defeat to Kildare on Saturday, Mayo will be wary of their challenge after losing out to the same county in last year’s Nicky Rackard Cup final.
Each team in this five-strong division will enjoy a weekend off at some point and it is Roscommon’s turn next weekend. They are back in action against Kildare at Dr Hyde Park on Sunday, June 6 and will look to use the next three weeks as a chance to fine tune their game.
Scorers - Mayo: Keith Higgins 1-5 (0-3 ’65’, 0-1 free), Shane Boland 0-4 (3f), Cathal Freeman 0-3, Peadar McCrann (2f), Corey Scahill 0-2 each, Gerard Kelly (f), Kieran Kiely, Adrian Phillips, Brian Morley 0-1 each. Roscommon: Cathal Dolan 0-6 (5f), Jack Lohan 1-0, Oisin Coyle (f), Adam Finnerty, Shane Naughton 0-1 each.
MAYO: Gerard Kelly; Stephen Coyne, Michael Morley, Sean Kenny; John Cassidy, Peadar McCrann, David Kenny; Kieran Kiely, Daniel Huane; Adrian Phillips, Cathal Freeman, Sean Regan; Jason Coyne, Keith Higgins, Shane Boland. Subs: Brian Morley for Regan, Corey Scahill for Coyne, Brian Hunt for Philips, Conor Henry for Cassidy, Eoin Delaney for Boland, Bobby Douglas for Kelly, Conor Murray for Kenny.
ROSCOMMON: Enda Lawless, Paul Dolan, Darren Fallon, Sean Trundle, Eoghan Costello, Peter Kellehan, Eoin Coyle, Cathal Dolan, Ben McGahon, Oisin Coyle, Cathal Kenny, Naos Connaughton, Adam Finnerty, Conor Mulry, Jack Lohan. Subs: Killian Egan for Coyle, Jason Kilkenny for Kenny, Diarmuid Treacy for Connaughton, Connell Kennelly for Coyle, Shane Naughton for Eoghan Costello Diarmuid Mulry for Adam Finnerty, Darragh Heavey for Diarmuid Mulry.
Referee: Rory McGann (Clare).