The U20 inter-county football season got underway for Mayo this evening with the first round of the Leo Murphy Cup. This is one of the U20 Football Development Leagues that are taking place over the coming few weeks to prepare the counties for the upcoming knockout provincial Championships at U20 level.
In our case, this opportunity for preparation is very welcome as we’ve been drawn to play Galway in the preliminary round in Connacht. That preparation comes in the form of three Leo Murphy Cup group matches in successive weekends, the first of which was on tonight at the Connacht Centre of Excellence in Bekan. Next weekend, it’s an away match against Derry and the weekend after that it’s another away fixture, this time against Donegal.
Maurice Sheridan’s charges – shorn of the services of Senior panellists Donnacha McHugh, Sam Callinan, Ruairí Keane, Paddy Heneghan and Frank Irwin – made a winning start to the year in tonight’s game. They beat Roscommon by 1-12 to 1-9 in a match they always led in but which seemed destined for a tight finish before Mayo closed out a three-point win.
Early on, it looked like the home side would coast to victory. Two points for Cian O’Connell and one from Cian McHale established their early dominance, which was then copperfastened by a goal from Cian McHale midway through the opening half.
Further points – two more for Cian O’Connell and another from Cian McHale – saw that lead stretched out to eight points. Roscommon battled back undaunted, though, and, posting 1-3 without replay, they pared the deficit back to just two points at half-time. The score at the break was 1-6 to 1-4.
A point from Jack Fallon on the resumption stopped the rot for Mayo. Two further points for the Rossies, however, pared the gap back to the minimum. Scores were then traded twice – Cian McHale and Rory Morrin adding to Mayo’s tally – as the home team just managed to maintain their advantage.
Then, coming down the closing stretch, Mayo found an extra gear and points without reply from Conal Dawson, Paul Walsh and Cian McHale pushed their lead out to four. Roscommon bagged the final score of the evening as Maurice Sheridan’s side prevailed by three points.
Mayo scorers: Cian McHale (1-4), Cian O’Connell (0-4), Jack Fallon, Conal Dawson, Rory Morrin and Paul Walsh (0-1 each).