Cillian O'Connor converting a first-half penalty for Mayo. PHOTO: SPORTSFILE

Mayo enjoy comfortable win over Meath

By Stuart Tynan

Mayo made it three wins from three in the league stages after easing to a 3-17 to 2-12 victory over Meath at Elverys MacHale Park, Castlebar.

With both teams already securing their spots in the semi-finals beforehand, it was a chance for both sides to get much needed minutes for players who have found chances limited to date. Kilmeena’s Jack Carney made his first start for Mayo while Eoin O'Donoghue, Darren McHale, James Carr and Fergal Boland also made their first starts in the league.

Darren McHale, Cillian O’Connor (two frees and a mark), Michael Plunkett, Matthew Ruane and Fergal Boland got Mayo up and running before the first water-break.

Meath, who made eight changes to their named line-up, struggled in the early stages but got to within two points of Mayo before the water-break as Bryan McMahon followed up Jason Scully's rebounded effort into the net.

Cillian O’Connor expertly converted a penalty on the restart after Bryan Walsh was brought down and the O’Connor brothers, Cillian and Diarmuid, then combined shortly after to set up James Carr for his first goal of the afternoon.

James Carr and a superb Cillian O’Connor point on the turn extended Mayo’s lead further. Eamon Wallace and Jack Conlon (two frees) kept Meath within touching distance but Mayo put it beyond doubt as a contest with further points from Darren McHale, Bryan Walsh and a stunning piledriver into the net by James Carr to see Mayo lead 3-11 to 1-5 at half-time.

Mayo were slow out of the blocks at the start of the second half as two points from Eamon Wallace, a point and a free from Jack Conlon and an excellent finish into the net by Brian Menton brought the gap back to seven.

But Mayo kept Meath at arms reach for the remainder of the second half, with points by Aidan O’Shea, Matthew Ruane, Bryan Walsh, and Paul Towey rounding of a good afternoon for James Horan and his side.

They will meet Clare in the Division 2 semi-finals in two weeks’ time, with a spot in Division One up for grabs. In the other semi-final, Meath will face Kildare.

Mayo: R. Hennelly, E. O’Donoghue, O. Mullin, L. Keegan, M. Plunkett (0-1), S. Coen, F. Boland (0-1), M. Ruane (0-2), D. O’Connor, J. Carney, D. McHale (0-2), B. Walsh (0-2), R. O’Donoghue, C. O’Connor (1-4, 1-0 pen, 0-2f, 0-1m), J. Carr (2-1).

Subs: P. Towey (0-3, 0-2f), C. Boyle, E. McLaughlin, A. O’Shea (0-1), D. Coen, J. Flynn, T. Conroy.

Meath: H. Hogan, S. Lavin, C. McGill, E. Harkin, T. Hickey, J. Flynn (0-1f), D. Dillon, B. Menton (1-0), B. McMahon (1-0), E. Wallace (0-2), D. Campion, J. Wallace, J. Conlon (0-4, 0-3f), J. O’Connor (0-1), J. Scully.

Subs: S. McEntee, D. Keogan, P. Harnan, D. Dixon, M. Newman (0-4, 0-3f), R. Ryan, L. Byrne.

Ref: M. McNally (Monaghan)

*Full report and reaction in this Tuesday's print edition.