Mayo 5-20 Leitrim 0-11: easy does it

It’s good to be back.

Today was the first Mayo match I’d been to in 16 months, the first since Covid struck, and while today’s match-day experience was very different and it was a good bit wetter than I’d have liked in the first half it still felt bloody great to be there.

So first off I’d like to pay tribute to those doing the heavy lifting on the stewarding side of things at MacHale Park today. We all take this thankless, voluntary work for granted but we shouldn’t, as today’s match couldn’t have gone ahead without all the advance prep that was done and the efficient arrangements in and around the ground. Well done to all on that, it was all top class.

Our seats were in Zone 1, high up on the bleachers in the Albany end over towards the stand side with a diagonal view down onto the pitch. This meant we got to see most of the action in the first half, as the ball was down that end virtually all the time.

It also meant we were exposed to the elements when the heavens opened soon after throw-in. I knew that one day that Cairde Mhaigh Eo umbrella would come in useful. That day was today.

We made two changes to our starting line-up, with Jordan Flynn and Darren Coen starting, while Eoghan McLaughlin and Bryan Walsh didn’t. They weren’t on the bench either and neither was Rory Brickenden, with Aiden Orme, Fionn McDonagh and fit-again Diarmuid O’Connor added to the list of replacements.

We got into the groove right from the off and shot for points at will in the opening quarter. We had eight points racked up before they got their opener, from a free, just before the water break.

Two more points followed on the resumption before our opening goal, scored by Darren Coen. It looked like we’d messed up the chance, with Conor Loftus passing the ball to a Leitrim player but he wasn’t ready for it and it bounced into the grateful arms of Darren Coen who finished to the net.

Darren added a point soon after and then Darren McHale grabbed two goals in less than a minute to push us out of sight with just half an hour played. The first one of these saw great combination play from Paddy Durcan and Oisín Mullin, who drove hard at the Leitrim defence, before the tap-in finish from the Knockmore man.

Tommy Conroy instigated the second one. He already had three beauties from play to his credit but he now had his sights on a major as he bore down on goal rapidly from the right wing. He lost control of the ball before he could get his shot away but Darren was there to finish it to the net.

A mammoth sixteen points to the good at half-time, the question now cannoning around the podcast Whatsapp group was how far we stood off our all-time winning margin in the Championship. Thanks to the search tool on the results archive (thanks, Mark!) that was a question easily answered – we had 29 points to spare over Sligo in 1949 so a second half like the first one would see us into that kind of territory.

Two further goals early in the second period saw our lead stretch further. The excellent Ryan O’Donoghue – who, in Cillian’s absence, has emerged as a real leader in attack for us – bagged the first one and Tommy smashed home the second one. That put us 24 points ahead.

And that was the margin at the end of the game too. We didn’t break the record and this was mainly due to Leitrim reeling off four points in a row from then till the second water break, a period when we hit the pause button and invited them onto us.

By now Colm Boyle was on – I let off a roar of ‘Boiler’ as he trotted on to replace Paddy: it almost felt like old times – and so too was James Carr. Fionn McDonagh, Aiden Orme, James McCormack (blood) and Jack Coyne all got a run-out before the finish.

Although the game was long over as a contest we continued to press and harry the opposition into the final quarter. Four late points saw our lead widen to 25 points before they had the final say on the scoreboard with a neat point from play with just seconds to go.

I haven’t time now – as I still have to drive back to Dublin – to launch into a rant here about Championship structure. Our two matches in this year’s Championship have, though, added to this debate and have provided weight to the increasingly persuasive argument that this farce has to stop.

So, after two lopsided victories, we now head for a Connacht final showdown against old rivals Galway in a fortnight’s time. That one is sure to be a far keener contest, one that could easily go either way.

Today’s big win shows that, despite our bad luck this summer on the injury front, we’re humming nicely. We’ll be well up for the fight when we take on Galway and I, for one, can’t wait for it. Having made the trip west for today’s mismatch I’m hoping to be there to see the Nestor Cup decider too. Yes, it sure feels good to be back.

Mayo: Rory Byrne; Enda Hession, Padraig O’Hora, Michael Plunkett; Paddy Durcan, Oisín Mullin, Jordan Flynn; Mattie Ruane (0-2), Stephen Coen (0-1); Conor Loftus (0-2), Aidan O’Shea (0-1), Darren Coen (1-3); Tommy Conroy (1-3), Darren McHale (2-1), Ryan O’Donoghue (1-6, three frees). Subs: James Carr (0-1) for Conroy, Colm Boyle for Durcan, Fionn McDonagh for Ruane, Aiden Orme for Darren Coen, James McCormack for Flynn (blood), Jack Coyne for Mullin.

Who was our MOTM against Leitrim? Pick your top three performers

  • Ryan O'Donoghue (25%, 557 Votes)
  • Tommy Conroy (18%, 412 Votes)
  • Darren McHale (11%, 237 Votes)
  • Padraig O'Hora (10%, 227 Votes)
  • Conor Loftus (7%, 162 Votes)
  • Mathew Ruane (7%, 161 Votes)
  • Oisín Mullin (5%, 112 Votes)
  • Darren Coen (5%, 109 Votes)
  • Aidan O'Shea (3%, 67 Votes)
  • Rory Byrne (1%, 33 Votes)
  • Paddy Durcan (1%, 27 Votes)
  • Enda Hession (1%, 20 Votes)
  • Stephen Coen (1%, 20 Votes)
  • Jordan Flynn (1%, 16 Votes)
  • Michael Plunkett (1%, 15 Votes)
  • Jack Coyne (1%, 15 Votes)
  • James Carr (0%, 11 Votes)
  • Aiden Orme (0%, 11 Votes)
  • Colm Boyle (0%, 10 Votes)
  • James McCormack (0%, 7 Votes)
  • Fionn McDonagh (0%, 5 Votes)

Total Voters: 1,087

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39 thoughts on “Mayo 5-20 Leitrim 0-11: easy does it

  1. How well we protect our goal is going to go a long way to determine how we do in the final. Galway are certain to go after goals the way our defence was in the league. Good movement today, saw what Mullin could give us out the field. Good to see DOC up and running again

  2. O Hora put a bit of steel into the back line and Mullen was much more influential from CHB
    Byrne has his first game under his belt. No doubt he will progress with more gametime. To me he is a couple of games away from being comfortable as our reserve keeper.
    Great hunger about the player, plenty of competition for places and strength in depth. Maybe that will help us shade the connacht final but it will be a close affair.

  3. Good tight game in Ulster. Donegal were given a real test by Derry who are definitely a team in the way back. They now face Tyrone so Donegal will be well tested just to reach a provincial final. It is amazing what a narrow win can do for a teams confidence.

    Either way, you would expect whoever comes out of Ulster will be well prepped for an All Ireland semi final. Whoever wins Connacht will not have the same experience but let’s worry about that if we beat Galway.

  4. Galway will be worried,,what a squad we have,the only only team that I have seen is Donegal that will be able to keep the ball kicked out to us,the rest are a busted flush

  5. All progressing very nicely in the Mayo squad……Big prizes on offer now, a 48th Connacht title to pull 2 away from the Tribesmen and another shot at the Dubs in an AISF……

  6. All about the ratio Marty k and ours is dismal , I’d hazard a guess it’s the worst in Gaelic football, what is it 47:3 where as roscommon 20(odd) :2 & galway 45 (ish ) :9 .

    Anyway that’s in the past now , I dont know why but i dont fear Galway at all this year. Perhaps I’m looking into the roscommon game and kerry& Monaghan league game s too much but I just thought they were so poor at defending , up top shane Walsh not at full throttle, comer not the same player of 2018 . Cooke and conroy good, they might get a sniff there . Nah , we should retain nestor cup with a bit of comfort imho.

  7. Derry will be kicking themselves – had chance(s) at the very death to equalise but no one had the balls to take on the shot and Coldrick gave them plenty of time. Also palmed a tap-in off the bar in the second half so definitely opportunity missed and a lot of regrets to mull over through the winter. Donegal can count themselves lucky but a close win might egg them on for tyrone next week

  8. What I’m wondering about is this Covid business. Seeing some of the absentees today I’m wondering whether it is really an issue of close contacts or are some players infected. Because if a player has got Covid it’s questionable when he will be fit to play again. I was only half able to hear the match commentary and don’t want to start any rumours but did I correctly hear that Lee Keegan had sustained a dislocated shoulder during the week? Lee would be a huge loss but I think that O’Hora coming into defence would add a lot of solidity to it. A defence containing all of Hession, Mullin, Keegan, Durcan and McLaughlin would, I think, be a bit too attack prone. Maybe the conditions were responsible but I thought that Rory Byrne looked a bit too nervous early on although the way he came for a high ball in the second half reminded me of David Clarke at his best.
    Anyway, here’s hoping that there will be a big increase in ticket numbers for the Connacht Final.

  9. Nobody find it odd how they couldn’t sell a miserable 3k tickets for a championship game in castlebar .

    Bet there will be no problem selling them for this day two weeks

  10. Agree Sean Burke, seemed to be alot less there than the allowed capacity. Ill be very aggrieved if i cant get a ticket for galway match. I know 30 euros is steep for a non competitive game but was great to be there for the first time since march 2020.As the saying goes, nothing beats being there

  11. Hard to read too much into that match but I thought O’Hora put his hand up today. Looks a solid option for full back line.

  12. I’ve often heard of a marker being a yard or two off his man but the Leitrim defence were literally 10 yards away at times. It was a depressing watch and truthfully I felt it pointless to continue watching after 10 minutes. The sooner the championship is restructured the better and not a mishmash of provincials and consolation tournaments for the losers. Bring in a proper tiered championship like in hurling or club, or every other code other than inter-county football. It’s not rocket science

  13. Yes, I was glad to be there too with my brother and young fellas x 2. It was a very subdued atmosphere as one might expect but still great to see the lads in the flesh after such a long absence. However the season ultimately pans out it is still hard not to get a little excited about the depth of talent coming through. They seem to be making a good case for taking on the mantle of some of the more established, older players. The Galway game will tell us more…

  14. Listened to James Horans interview on Midwest after the game.
    He said that Lee Keegan was close to playing today as was Diarmaid o Connor.

  15. Byrne made some very nervous mistakes early on but as the game progressed so did his confidence ,the rest of the performances were top class even if we did take our usual foot off the gas once the game was over , onwards and upwards

  16. Hi, J Flynn looked good before injury and hitting post but seemed to be all over the place. . Sure would be great if he was?

  17. @CarraigDubh. Thats brilliant news about Lee! He surely should be okay for Galway now

  18. That’s a standard comment from JHoran
    I would not read much into it one way or the other

  19. Off topic but very noticeable at home that the Albany painted on to the benchs is a bad advertisement for a paint company.

  20. Ciaran Mc was there and very visible and thought young Flynn did very well, covered a lot of ground and hit post twice, good display from everyone and all looked eager to make final day team, keep O’Hora at full back.

  21. The Ciarán McDonald influence on the field is very evident. AOS brilliant free kick with outside of boot was typical of McDonalds ball control..

  22. Liked the hunger, accuracy and all-round work rate there today. Swanee impressed me, and forwards had great movement. Didn’t think Leitrim played like a div 4 team. Their keeper had a massive kick and found his man time after time.

    Rant time. While volunteers did great work, the ‘presentation’ aspect was dire. Public address shocking, couldn’t get Aidan Orme’s name right, scoreboard at bacon factory end an absolute joke, showing no score most of the time, no programmes. Oh, and the ref as crap, really loves his whistle.

  23. @Sean Burke

    The real oddness was the Connacht gaa charging 30€ for tickets when it was 20€ for the Ulster, Munster and Leinster matches.

    Those that turned up and sat in the rain for the full 70 minutes should be the first to be given tickets for the final.

    I also can’t see past Mayo retaining the Connacht title. Simply are fitter more conditioned than Galway and Horan is far more experienced than Joyce. I’d expect Galway to go down fighting though.

    Tuesday the next big game, knocked out of the U20 championship by Galway the last two years can’t allow that to happen 3 years in a row.

  24. I agree with you Catcol where on earth did they get the stadium announcer he struggled all day he kept Calling Aidan Orme Aidan Ormsby and Oisin Mullen Oisin McMullen on top of that he was given a dodgy Mic that kept cutting out.

  25. @catcol no programs handed out in these covid time, you have to buy it online and download it onto your phone.

  26. Hammerings like this help no one. It’s really past time now that we consider introducing graded championships.

  27. @It Means Nothing To Me,.. the real damage to Leitrim yesterday and Sligo two weeks ago re aspirations for Gaelic Football.. is this, imagine a kid or a teenager from either county watching those matchs live on TV, which I’m sure thousands did… They probably have never seen a Sligo or Leitrim victory, maybe never seen their team coming close, their hopes will seem as remote as that of being an Astronaut, … Hard to expect any of those commit to what would be nessary in the future to achieve Gaelic Games success.

  28. The way Sligo and Leitrim are at the moment they wouldn’t even win a grade 3 tournament. Both played in Div 4 Leitrim no win while Sligo 1 win by a point over Leitrim.

    Both need to knuckle down at underage level. Sligo had some decent minior and U21 teams that pushed Galway all the way in Connacht finals but those players haven’t been nurtured right, they have a centre of excellence but aren’t making us of it and wasting their time on outside managers.

  29. I presume the match ups for the Connacht final will be something along the lines of Hession on Finnerty, O’Hora on Comer, Keegan on P.Kelly, Durcan on Walsh and Mullins on Tierney. O’Laoi will go back as a sweeper. Id be a bit concerned about our physicality up front. Especially when we know Galway will be ultra defensive. Paul Conroy has been off the boil for all of Galways Games this year. I hope Oshea/Ruane can lord things around the middle. We would want to be cautious of Galway diving, we seen Comer do it against Roscommon and Walsh do it against Monaghan. If we bring the right attitude we should win this game. There has been very little mention of it, but the Galway bench has no strength in depth and Joyce doesn’t come across the shrewdest operator…

  30. Great to see Ryan, Tommy and Oisín shine through, they will be Mayo’s holy trinity for the next ten years…they are so exciting to watch

  31. I’m sorry west is best but I cannot agree with you. Kevin and diarmuid are in a different league to flynn and Loftus. I actually thought flynn struggled again and missed the 2 opportunity s he had to score and this is against division 4 opposition. Loftus was slightly better.

  32. Mayomagic, you talked about Mayo being fitter and more conditioned than Galway, and about Horan’s experience swinging things in Mayo’s direction as opposed to Galway’s.
    These, and the incisive coordinated play on display yesterday, make me think we have enough.

  33. Mayo fans are supremely confident and Galway go into game as underdogs. Galway have played Kerry, Dublin, Roscommon twice and Monaghan. Mayo have played weaker teams and I believe those matches will stand to Galway. The Kellys will need to be picked up too as they are two rising players for Galway. Without COC Mayo will earn a semi final place the hard way. Its all to play for but it takes the pressure off us for Mayo to be favourites.

  34. If Mayo lose – we’re in transition and missing key personnel and having had a covid scare, we’ll regroup and go again next year. If Galway lose the knives will be out for Joyce, it really is last chance saloon for him after a bad year last year and poor year so far this year as well.
    I think we’ll win, but the pressure is very much on Galway and saying it isn’t is naive in the extreme

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