Late flurry helps Mayo win big against Leitrim

Mayo finished with a flourish to secure a 2-16 to 0-6 victory over Leitrim in the opening round of the Electric Ireland Connacht GAA Minor Football Championship in Ballina this evening.

Late goals from joint captains Ronan Clarke and Diarmuid Duffy, both very impressive performers, were the icing on the cake for Sean Deane's team, who had done much of the hard work in the first half to eke out a 0-9 to 0-2 advantage by the break.

In fairness to Leitrim, they made a contest of it for much of the second half, tightening up in the full-back line to keep tabs better on Clarke, Niall Hurley and James Maheady (and their replacements), but a red card for Eoghan Ridge with 12 minutes remaining made an already difficulty task nigh on impossible.

Leitrim were trailing their hosts in Ballina by seven points (0-6 to 0-13) at that stage, and even without the late goals it would have been chalked down as a fairly comfortable win for Mayo.

Mayo were strong at the back, with John MacMonagle a tower of strength at full-back flanked by the wily Rio Mortimer and Lorcan Silke.

Liam Maloney, Colm McHale and Paul Gilmore formed a classy half-back line, while midfielders Luke Feeney and Jack Keane did the simple stuff well. The former showed a great ability to mop up loose ball and win back possession, and the latter was a force driving forward to help the attack.

The trio up top were a huge scoring threat whereas half-forwards Cathal Keavney, Dylan Gallagher and Diarmuid Duffy forarged all evening, Gallagher helping himself to a point in the process and Duffy getting the last score with a toe-poke to the net to give substitute Oisin Cronin's fine pass the finish it deserved.

Cronin and fellow sub Oliver Armstrong both got great scores when introduced in the second half, while Rory Conway, Tom Lydon and Conor Lydon all contributed handsomely to an impressive win for Mayo in front of a good crowd at James Stephens Park.

There were a few minor scares in front of 'keeper David Dolan's goal but he dealt with everything that came at him well and can be happy with his re-starts.

Leitrim were by no means outclassed and but for the sending-off they could have ended up a lot closer to Mayo at the full-time whistle. They were well served on the evening by the very classy Ben Guckian, one of the game's outstanding performers, as well as Gerard Murtagh, Jack Foley, Paul Honeyman, Josh Maye and Liam Chandler.

Mayo: David Dolan; Rio Mortimer, John MacMonagle, Lorcan Silke; Liam Maloney, Colm McHale, Paul Gilmore; Jack Keane (0-1), Luke Feeney; Cathal Keavney, Dylan Gallagher (0-1), Diarmuid Duffy (1-0); James Maheady (0-1), Ronan Clarke (1-8, 5f), Niall Hurley (0-3).

Subs used: Oisin Cronin (0-1), Rory Conway, Tom Lydon, Conor Lydon, Oliver Armstrong (0-1).

Leitrim: Shaun Sheridan; Eoghan Moyles (0-1), Eoghan Duignan, Eoghan Ridge; Dara Grennan, Jack Foley, Gerard Murtagh; Ben Guckian (0-1f), Liam Chandler; James Gilheany, Paul Honeyman (0-2f), Tom Plunkett (0-1); Darren Cox, Josh Maye, Naoise McManus (0-1).

Subs used: Matthew Murphy, Daire Gardiner, Fionn Curley, Harry Wilson, Adam Gethins.