Mayo 1-15 Leitrim 1-5 .... MAYO minors redeemed themselves after a poor first half showing to blow Leitrim away in this Connaught minor football championship quarterfinal at Elverys MacHale Park, Castlebar, on Saturday evening.
Mayo were a little flattered by their interval lead of three points (1-5 to 1-2) but they outscored Leitrim by 0-10 to 0-3 in the second half to book a semifinal meeting with Galway in Salthill this Saturday.
Manager Enda Gilvarry will be the first to admit that a huge improvement will be needed of they are to make the final against three-in-row seeking Roscommon, but, in fairness, many of these players have just closed the books on the Leaving Certificate and this game will have brought them on to some degree ahead of the more demanding task against Galway.
A dirty mist descended on the evening and it may have contributed somewhat to the poor quality of football – and it was clearly responsible for the opening goal, which was gifted by Leitrim when a defender and the goalkeeper both in turn slipped at the critical moment when attempting to clear a probing cross from Brian Walsh. Tommy Conroy was alert to the possibility of a free goal and he duly poked home the loose ball into an empty net.
It was a score Mayo desperately needed as they trailed Leitrim by a point, the visitors looking the more menacing side in that opening period and the goal, on seven minutes, coming very much against the run of play. However, Mayo began to dominate going into the last 10 minutes with Liam Irwin becoming a serous presence around the edge of the square and a free, and a point from play, form the Breaffy man followed by a fine score from Darragh Doherty had Mayo in the driving seat on 24 minutes as they led by 1-5 to 0-2, But just before the interval Leitrim enjoyed a piece of good fortune themselves when a long range free broke around the danger zone and the ball was poked home by Conor Gaffney to give Leitrim some optimism at the interval with just the goal separating the sides - 1-5 to 1-2.
But just one team emerged for the second period and it was a rejuvenated Mayo who kick-stared the half with a fine point from their superb midfield player, Val Roughneen.
Irwin took centre stage with back-to-back points, while Doherty also hit the target, and in a space of 10 minutes Mayo had opened up a six-point lead.
Substitute Conor Byrne burst on the scene with three magnificent points from play, the Moy Davitts man clearly pencilling his name in for a starting place against Galway in the semi-final this weekend, while Diarmuid O’Connor and Stephen Coen topped up Mayo’s lead with late points, Leitrim managing just two frees in the second half and their only score from play being that goal.
Mayo go forward to face Galway at 1.30 p.m. in Hyde Park, Roscommon, on Sunday next prior to the Leitrim v London Connaught senior football championship semi-final replay.
Scorers for Mayo:
L. Irwin 0-4 (1f), T. Conroy 1-0, C. Byrne 0-3, D. Doherty and V Roughneen (1f) 0-2 each, S. Coen, C. Loftus, M. Hall and D. O Connor 0-1 each.
Scorers for Leitrim:
C. McCawley 0-5 (5f), C. Gaffney 1-0
Mayo: M. Mulligan (Claremorris), E. Doran (Achill), S. Cunniffee (Ballaghaderreen), D. Kenny (Aghamore), R. Finn (Claremorris), S. Coen (Hollymount-Carramore), M. Hall (Breaffy), V. Roughneen (Balla), D. O’Connor (Ballintubber), B. Walsh (Ballintubber). C. Loftus (Crossmolina), C. Hanley (Ballaghaderreen), T. Conroy (Kiltane), L. Irwin (Breaffy), D. Doherty (Kilmaine).
Subs used: S. Burke for Coen (45m), C. Byrne for Conroy (45m), P. Prendergast for Doherty, S. Conlon for Finn (58m).
Leitrim: S. McPartland, L. Ryan, B. Nash, K. McHugh, A. McLoughlin, M. Clancy, K. Shanley, D. Daly, K. McWeeney, D. Farrell, C. McCawley, C. Gaffney, L. Murphy, K. Cox, B. Cunningham.
Subs used: S. McGowan for McHugh (25m), M. Plunkett for Murphy (35m), C. Keegan for McWeeney (40m), D. Mulvey for Nash (inj).