Keith Higgins was in fine form as Mayo produced a very good performance to qualify for their second Nicky Rackard Cup final in a row with victory over Armagh this afternoon. Photo: Sportsfile

Mayo back in the Nicky Rackard Cup final again

Mayo senior hurlers put an indifferent first half behind them to easily account for Armagh in the All-Ireland Nicky Rackard Cup semi-final, winning in the end by 2-23 to 2-9 in Carrick-on-Shannon this afternoon, writes Aiden Henry.

After being one point in arrears at the interval, we saw the real Mayo on the resumption as they produced some magnificent hurling before blowing their opponents away.

Derek Walsh’s side can now look forward to the decider with plenty of confidence.

The opening half was one of missed chances at either end of the field. Indeed, both teams recorded a total of 10 wides each.

Mayo started the better and led by two points as Keith Higgins and Sean Regan raised white flags. Although Armagh narrowed the gap with their opening score of the game – a point – Mayo struck for a goal in the sixth minute when Higgins picked out Cathal Freeman with an inch-perfect pass before the Mayo centre-forward crashed the ball to the back of the net.

Within two minutes this goal was cancelled out at the other end of the field when the Armagh goalkeeper planted the ball in the back of the Mayo from the penalty spot.

As the half progressed, points were exchanged on numerous occasions before Mayo were hit a body blow dead on the stroke of half-time when Armagh struck for a second goal from Fionntan Donnelly, which gave the Ulster county a one-point lead, 2-5 to 1-7, at the interval.

On the resumption we saw Mayo up their game and by the 34th minute they had turned the one-point deficit into a two-point lead after Higgins scored three unanswered points, two frees and one from play.

From then on it just got better and better for Mayo as they took control in most areas of the field and two more points from Higgins and one each from substitute Jason Coyne and Adrian Phillips left Derek Walsh’s side in a comfortable position at the second water break.

Mayo continued to dominate in the final quarter and added a further 1-8 to their tally, their second goal coming from Adrian Phillips.

Mayo: B. Douglas, S. Coyne, M. Morley, C. Daly, G. Nolan, D. Kenny, C. Henry, K. Kiely, S. Kenny, C. Phillips, C. Freeman (1-1), B. Hunt, K. Higgins (0-11), A. Phillips (1-3), S. Regan (0-2). Subs used: E. Delaney, J. Coyne (0-1), J. Cassidy, B. Morley (0-1), M. Phillips.

Armagh: S. Doherty (1-0), C. Clifford, T. Nevin, R. Magee, P. Lappin, O. Keenan, T. O’Neill, P. McKearney (0-1), O. Curry, J. Short, P. McBride (0-2), M. McClatchey (0-1), S. McKearney (0-1), F. Donnelly (1-2), D. McGee (0-2). Subs used: P. Kelly, A. McGuinness, F. Oliver, T. O’Hare.