Facile victory for Mayo ladies in championship opener

Mayo carved out a facile 4-17 to 0-4 victory over Tyrone in their opening TG4 All-Ireland championship game at Páirc Seán Mac Diarmada, Carrick-on-Shannon, this afternoon.

Dominant from the start, Mayo could have been much further than 2-5 to 0-1 ahead at the break were it not for some wayward shooting.

When they rectified that in the second half, the scores came thick and fast.

Mayo got off to a dream start with a goal in the very first minute from Tamara O'Connor, who found the back of the net when she capitalised on a mis-directed kick-out from Tyrone 'keeper Laura Kane.

Emma Brennan made it 1-0 to 0-1 after eight minutes but that proved to be Tyrone's only score of the first half.

Mayo, on the other hand, eventually found the range, and points from Sarah Rowe (three, one free) and Grace Kelly (two) were bolstered by a goal from Rowe following an excellent move involving Aileen Gilroy, Niamh Kearns and Sinead Cafferky.

The start to the second half was blistering from a Mayo point of view as Rowe tapped over four quick scores (two frees) and half-time substitute Fiona Doherty added another before Tyrone had their second point, a free scored by Grainne Rafferty in the 10th minute, leaving it 2-10 to 0-2.

With such a healthy advantage, Mayo manager Peter Leahy was able to introduce players of the calibre of Deirdre Doherty, Ciara Whyte, Danielle Caldwell and Kathryn Sullivan during the second half, with three of them making an impact on the scoreboard.

Gilroy and Clodagh McManamon dominated the midfield sector and Sinead Cafferky directed operations from centre half-forward, leaving the Tyrone defence was overworked trying to keep tabs on Rowe and Kelly as well as the newcomers.

Meanwhile, Tyrone were finding it difficult to get any joy in a very strong Mayo defence, where Roisin Durkin, Dayna Finn and Saoirse Lally particularly impressed.

Mayo were on fire for the last 20 minutes as the Tyrone challenge faded, although to their credit they battled hard and added two points through Emma Brennan and Niamh O'Neill.

At the other end, Rowe (two, one free), Kelly, Aileen Gilroy, Fiona Doherty, Deirdre Doherty and Ciara Whyte all added points to the Mayo tally, while Rowe and Deirdre Doherty (from a 13-metre free) both found the back of the net as well, compounding Tyrone's miserable afternoon.

The victory leaves Mayo facing Armagh next weekend in a straight shootout for a place in the All-Ireland semi-final following the Orchard County's victory over Tyrone last weekend. Both teams racked up a big tally against Tyrone but Mayo were much tighter in defence than Armagh were a week ago, but it will be a big challenge next weekend, though far from an unsurmountable one.

The Mayo team that started was: Laura Brennan; Saoirse Lally, Roisin Durkin, Ciara McManamon; Éilís Ronayne, Dayna Finn, Emma Brennan; Aileen Gilroy (0-1), Clodagh McManamon; Grace Kelly (0-3) Sinead Cafferky (C), Sarah Rowe (2-9); M. Reilly, R. Kearns, T. O’Connor (1-0). The subs used were: Fiona Doherty (0-2), Deirdre Doherty (1-1), Danielle Caldwell, Ciara Whyte (0-1) and Kathryn Sullivan.

The Tryone starting team was: Laura Kane; Christiane Hunter, Joanne Barrett, Caoileann Conway; Tori McLaughlin, Neamh Woods (C), Niamh McGirr; Meabh Mallon, Aoibhinn McHugh; Emma Hegarty, Emma Brennan (0-2), Dearbhile Gallagher; Niamh O’Neill (0-1), Grainne Rafferty (0-1), Chloe McCaffrey. The subs used were: Emma Mulgrew, Caitlin Kelly, Siobhan Sherrin, Ciara Munroe and Sasha Byrne.

*Pictured above, Sarah Rowe was top scorer for Mayo against Tyrone this afternoon, racking up a very impressive tally of 2-9. Photo: Sportsfile