Mayo romp to victory in Tuam Stadium
A facile victory that keeps Mayo's survival hopes alive. Manager James Horan couldn't have asked for much more than that from today's trip to Tuam to face league leaders Galway, where the visitors romped to a 3-23 to 0-17 win, writes Brian Gillespie.
Mayo were on top from the start of this Allianz National Football League Division 1 tie and had taken a three-point lead before the hosts could muster a response courtesy of a Liam Silke point.
By then Galway had been rocked by injury to Damien Comer, who pulled up with what looked like a hamstring problem, while Johnny Duane's departure before the 10-minute mark, again due to injury, was a further blow. Galway just never seemed to recover from the disruption to their plans with those early setbacks.
Mayo, on the other hand, were like a well-oiled machine, each man not only aware of his responsibility, but carrying it out to a tee.
There were some remarkably impressive moves, not least those which led to the two first-half goals, in the 12th and 29th minutes.
For the first one, Westport pair Fionn McDonagh and Eoghan McLaughlin combined to find Aidan O'Shea who in turn transferred possession to Cillian O'Connor. Quick as a flash, O'Connor hand-passed to Mark Moran and, after a check inside on to his left foot, his low finish rolled to the back of the Tuam net.
The second goal also started deep in defence with Stephen Coen forcing a turnover and feeding the ball to McDonagh. He found the galloping Oisín Mullin who, after a one-two with Matthew Ruane, fed the ball into Aidan O'Shea who found the supporting Paddy Durcan. After taking the ball in his stride, Durcan found the bottom left corner with a precision strike.
Moran had a dream debut half of inter-county football, not just with the goal but two points to boot. He left his mark early, getting two touches in the move that led to the opening score by Conor Loftus in the early seconds.
But there were stars all over the field for Mayo, who had Galway at sixes and sevens the longer the half went on.
Despite the best efforts of Johnny Heaney, Cein D'Arcy, Robert Finnerty and Ian Burke, Mayo were a problem that Galway just couldn't solve in that first half, with Cillian O'Connor alone helping himself to eight points of their scarcely believable 2-17 tally.
Mayo tacked on 1-6 in the second half, Conor Loftus with the goal, while Galway scored a not inconsequential 10 points in that period, Robert Finnerty (son of a former Mayo player Anthony) their main scorer, but the Tribesmen never truly looked like mounting a comeback as David Clarke's goal was rarely threatened.
Both teams ran the bench – it was forced on Galway in the first half, in fairness – and the game lost some momentum as a result, but there could be no taking away from Mayo on the day.
It leaves plenty to play for against Tyrone next weekend in Castlebar. Mayo need to win while a draw would be sufficient for Tyrone. Were both Mayo and Monaghan to lose, both would finish on five points but the westerners would relinquish their 23-year stay in the top division on the head to head. However, a Monaghan defeat seems unlikely against already relegated Meath.
So for Mayo, the only guarantee of survival is victory over Tyrone, who stand on six points, and were they to repeat today's performance against Galway then they could well survive in the top tier. It ain't over yet.
The Mayo team was: D. Clarke, O. Mullin, D. McBrien, L. Keegan, P. Durcan (1-2), S. Coen (0-1), E. McLaughlin, M. Ruane, C. Loftus (1-2), F. McDonagh, M. Moran (1-2), D. O'Connor, T. Conroy (0-3), A. O'Shea (0-3), C. O'Connor (0-10). Subs used were: P. O'Hora, B. Walsh, R. O'Donoghue, D. Coen, J. Flynn.
The Galway team was: C. Gleeson, C. Campbell, S.A. Ó Ceallaigh, J. Heaney, L. Silke (0-2), J. Duane, C. McDaid (0-1), C. D'Arcy (0-1), J. Maher, E. Brannigan, D. Comer, J. Leonard, R. Finnerty (0-7), I. Burke, P. Conroy (0-3). Subs used were: M. Daly, G. O'Donnell (0-1), M. Barrett (0-1), A. Varley (0-1), T. Flynn.
*Pictured above, Michael Daly of Galway in action against Eoghan McLaughlin (left) and Stephen Coen of Mayo during the Allianz Football League Division 1 clash at Tuam Stadium. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile