Minors dig it out at the death

We’ve had bright sunshine for the last few Minor matches but this evening in Castlebar it was dull, overcast and a bit on the cool side.

Out on the pitch, though, in particular in what proved to be a rip-roaring second half, it was positively sizzling. After what had been a cagey enough opening half, this contest exploded into action after the break, with the advantage shifting one way, then the other and back again.

It needed something special to win it and, at the death, Mayo’s Tom Lydon produced the goods, banging over an exceptional point deep in stoppage time to see our lads home on a scoreline of 2-13 to 2-12.

We made one change ahead of throw-in. Full-back Eoin McGreal, who has been struggling with a muscle injury in recent weeks, didn’t start, with Seánie O’Reilly lining out instead.

We enjoyed the brighter start and within ten minutes were four points to one to the good. Colm Lynch fired over our opener in the first minute and Darragh Beirne finished a quick move for our second after they’d levelled. Josh Carey pointed after we turned over their kickout and then Tom Lydon landed our first free of the evening to push us three clear.

We continued to look comfortable enough until they scored their first goal of the evening. It was a poor score from our perspective, as their rangy full-forward Ruairí Kilcline looked isolated inside but he tapped down the long ball that was driven in and then latched on it to boot it past Conor Meaney to the net.

That score ignited the visitors. Roared on by a vocal Rossie following – they had more supporters at Hastings Insurance MacHale Park than we did – they took the game to us from then to the break, at which they deservedly went in a point in front.

They got the first two scores on the resumption too. At that stage, a goal to the good, they were looking the likelier to prevail.

A Tom Lydon free opened our account in the second half – this was our first score since the 24th minute – but we started the second period the way we’d finished the first, struggling to break down the deep lying Roscommon blanket.

Then, suddenly, we hit them twice, banging in two goals in four minutes to seize control of the contest.

Darragh Beirne got the first one. Shane Cunningham sent a lovely, raking ball in, after Rio Mortimer had pushed up aggressively to initiate the turnover, and Darragh met the pass in with his fist to guide to the net.

Shane Cunningham was also involved in the second half, energetically intercepting an attempted pass out of defence and quickly feeding Josh Carey inside. The Kiltane player collected the pass, turned and lashed it home.

But just as it looked like we’d got a stranglehold on the game, the visitors came roaring back into it. They scored the next three points, negating that second goal for us as they cut the gap to just two points.

Gavin Forry, whose persistence had created a goal scoring chance that they managed to scramble away, then fisted over after a move that saw him advance goalwards from out on the left wing.

They responded, though, with a well-worked goal. They moved the ball upfield rapidly, catching our backline out of position in the process, with the ball squared nicely for centre-back Carthy to smash it to the net to level the score with just six minutes to go.

The fat was rightly in the fire now. The exceptional Tom Lydon responded immediately, as we swept downfield from our restart and he thumped it over. He got the next one too, a delicious curler that just made it inside the posts, after we’d turned the ball over out the field.

Back, though, came the courageous Rossie lads. A point from play and a free, rather harshly brought forward for dissent after what had been a soft enough award in the first place, levelled the game once more as the clock went over into broken time.

It was anyone’s now and it was looking increasingly as if extra-time would be needed to separate the teams. We kept pushing, though, and Tom Lydon was inches away with an effort at the posts. He got a second chance, however, and this time he made no mistake, landing the point that eventually decided this enthralling contest in our favour.

So now it’s onto the Connacht final and a rematch with Galway. That’s set for Tuam Stadium next Friday evening (throw-in 7pm), with both teams also advancing to the All-Ireland quarter-final.

It was that All-Ireland series berth that made tonight’s game such an important one, which I guess was why it became the all-or-nothing contest it did. Well done to our lads and commiserations to an extremely brave Roscommon team after what was a cracking Minor match tonight.

Mayo: Conor Meaney; James Lavelle, Seánie O’Reilly, Yousif Coghill; Jamie Clarke, Rio Mortimer, Fionan O’Reilly; Tiernan Egan, Shane Cunningham; Colm Lynch (0-1), Tom Lydon (0-7, four frees), Dara Neary; Darragh Beirne (1-1), Josh Carey (1-3), Senan Guilfoyle. Subs: Eoin McGreal for Seánie O’Reilly, Gavin Forry (0-1) for Guilfoyle, Seán Walsh for Fionan O’Reilly, Thomas Tuffy for Neary, Ryan Gibbons for Carey.

Our Mayo Football Podcast Final Whistle show is now up on Patreon for club members. Rob and I are joined by Nigel Reape on it to review tonight’s game and we also look ahead to the big game tomorrow. Join the club here.

4 thoughts on “Minors dig it out at the death

  1. That game night tonight and the game against Galway in MacHale Park were real good quality competitive contests as should the final be next weekend. Having such a competitive provincial championship should help for the All Ireland series and not forgetting the top two in Ireland last year was from Connacht.

  2. Managed to get a quick look at the TG4 YouTube feeds for the two Minor Ulster Semi Finals yesterday before/after the fun in Killarney. Some cracking stuff in the Tyrone Monaghan game if anyone is looking for a bit of football today and shelter away from the hurling.

    Got me thinking about what the rest of the AI QF setup is looking like beyond our upcoming Connacht Final. Said I’d throw the thoughts down here in case anyone else had an interest or further insight to share.

    Monaghan just (literally, ET & penalties included) edged out Tyrone one side in a cracking game and Derry managed to see out Donegal in a tight low scoring affair on the other. The 9 points to 4 points final score flattered Derry a bit. There was a long period where they sat at 6-4 up and Donegal squandered two great goal opportunities and another couple of soft enough points. You’d have to imagine the few weeks of stalled work in the Donegal academy didn’t do them any favours.

    Derry had turned over Monaghan 1-14 to 0-6 earlier in the Championship, while dominating their group phase scoring 86 while conceding just the 17. They’ll be going into that final red hot favourites. That said they’d beaten Donegal by 3-12 to 0-6 in the group too so a big difference to the 9 to 4 scoreline today so Monaghan won’t be completely out of contention.

    Ulster AIQF Qualifiers: Derry, Monaghan

    Down in Munster both the semi’s were fairly non events. Massive landslides for Cork and Kerry where you couldn’t read much into either. The two sides have met already in the fairly irrelevant QF they have down in Munster (they play a league among everyone except Cork and Kerry with 1st and 2nd having a ‘final’. Cork and Kerry then play a QF where the winner plays the loser of the group final and the loser plays the winner of the group final… so nothing really matters for the bigger two up until the seeded semi finals).

    Be hard to compare the standard of long range shooting or even basic skill execution from either semi final or the QF to what you’d see from the Connacht or Ulster semi finals. It wasn’t close to the same level. That said, when Kerry looked to be in a tight semi they tweaked a few things and suddenly blew Limerick away so there’s probably a lot more to come from both Cork and Kerry from what they’ve shown to date. Toss of a coin stuff for the final.

    Munster AIQF Qualifiers: Cork, Kerry

    Haven’t actually managed to catch any of the Leinster games this year so fairly clueless on this one and only looking at results to date rather than performances.

    Semi finals see Kildare meeting Meath and Offaly meeting Dublin. Both Kildare and Dublin came through their groups with impressive 100% records & convincing wins so you’d imagine would be favourites of making the final…. but never easy to call it in minor games and with both Meath and Offaly having some recent improvements in underage will be looking to push on hard this week.

    (Not seen any mention of it yet but you’d hope TG4 might be carrying those semi-finals too on their YouTube channel. https://www.youtube.com/@SportTG4/streams < can catch up with any of the already played provincial semi's there)

    Leinster AIQF Qualifiers: Kildare or Meath, Dublin or Offaly

    From what we've seen to date it'll be a pretty competitive year. Derry have looked very impressive at times, Kildare on paper seem to be going well and both Cork/Kerry seem solid… but when there's little overlap in the teams being played it's hard to view results in context. I'd rate Galway as high as any of them and we should be well able to give Galway a rattle if we can get the match ups right and things click for the lads on the day.

    Anyone know what provincial pairings or even if provincial pairings are happening for the QFs/SFs this year? Lack of any detail on the official site or the wiki on the structure of this years minor championship beyond the provincials so far. Hopefully a bit more information coming out by the time the finals are getting played.

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