DESPITE a nine-point win over Sligo, Mayo have a lot of things to work on as they head for Salthill on June 11 to take on champions Galway in the Connaught semi-final.
Sligo will feel very hard done by to lose by this margin at McHale Park before a crowd of close to 15,000 given the work they put into the second half in particular but the Yeats' men were hit by a late goal by Cillian O’Connor who had a simple tap-in after substitute Conor Loftus sent the ball invitingly across the mouth of the goal just before the end of normal time .
That goal finally gave Stephen Rochford men some breathing space as bench players Jason Doherty and Danny Kirby tacked on a few points to get Mayo comfortably over the line but leaving a lot of work to be done before they can take on the holders.
An injury to Seamus O’Shea saw the Breaffy man leave the action with what seemed to be a hand injury 10 minutes for time but, on the positive side, Aidan O’Shea got 25 minutes of play and shaped up reasonably well.
But the clear message from this encounter is that Mayo will need to raise their performance by another level or two if they are to challenge for honours in Connaught, never mind at national level.
A goal from Diarmuid O’Connor just before half-time eased the pressure on Mayo who were being well held by Sligo in the first half.
The sides were all square at 0-5 apiece on 35 minutes when one of the better moves which was initiated by Patrick Durcan and ended with the final pass from Seamus O’ Shea to O’Connor whose stinging shot along the ground from 15 yards beating Sligo goalkeeper Aiden Devaney.
Both sides had a lot of men behind the ball in the first half as Stephen Coen had Sligo up and running inside 20 seconds of the throw-in with an excellent point but Mayo replied with back-to-back points, Andy Moran kicking his side into the lead after Cillian O’Connor fired over the first of his four frees to tie the game.
Mayo were headed once more in the half when Mark Breheny kicked a free but things looked ominous for Sligo who kicked six wides having played with a very strong breeze in the first half as they trailed by 1-6 to 0-5 at the break.
With five minus of normal time remaining it was a five-point game and Sligo did have chances to get evne closer but the door was slammed shut on their face with that Cillian O’Connor tap-in.
Mayo: D. Clarke, C. Barrett, G. Cafferkey, K. Higgins, L. Keegan, C. Boyle, P. Durcan (0-1), S. O’Shea, T. Parsons, F. Boland (0-2), D. O’Connor (1-0), C. O’Shea, K, McLoughlin (0-1), C. O’Connor (1-6, 5f), A. Moran (0-2).
Subs used: J. Doherty (0-1) for McLoughlin (inj, 21), A. O’Shea for D. O’Connor (blood 40), D O’Connor for A O’Shea (50), A. O’Shea for A. Moran (51), S. Coen for Boyle (55), D. Vaughan for C. O’Shea (60), C. Loftus for Boland (65), D. Kirby (0-1) for S. O’Shea (inj, 67).
Sligo: A. Devaney (0-1, 1f), R. Donovan, C. Harrison, E. McHugh, K. Cawley, B. Egan, J. Kelly, P. O’Connor (0-1), A. McIntyre, N. Ewing, M, Breheny (0-3, 3f), K. Cawley, S. Coen (0-2), P. Hughes, A. Marren (0-4, 2f, 1, 45’).
Subs used: D Kelly for Cawley (30). K McDonnell for Coen (43), N Murphy (0-1) for Hughes (45), J O’Kelly-Lynch for E. McHugh (51). S. Gilmartin for J. Kelly (58) N Vaughan for Cawley (69).
Ref: S. Hurson (Tyrone).