It was a gloriously sunny evening at Páirc Seán MacDiarmada in Carrick-on-Shannon, perfect conditions for this Connacht MFC Round 4 meeting of Mayo and Leitrim. After a well-contested match our lads prevailed over a lively Leitrim outfit on a scoreline of 1-17 to 1-13, a win that guarantees us a semi-final slot where we’ll meet up again with Roscommon.
Leitrim were arguably the best team in the opening half. They certainly were a bit unlucky to find themselves two points in arrears at the break.
The tone was set from the throw-in, which the home side won and they swept upfield, with Joshua Maye bagging their opening point. Leitrim won the first three restarts, with Colm McLoughlin already establishing his presence as a dominant force around the middle.
We broke out for the first time on two minutes and James Lavelle notched our opening point, palmed over by the Leitrim ‘keeper. Tom Lydon then put us in front, tapping over a 14-yard free after the ref spotted some off-the-ball holding.
We edged two in front, Darragh Beirne finishing a well-worked score, and the same player got our next point too, collecting the ball after Tiernan Egan’s goal effort was saved.
They remained well in it, though, with Paul Honeyman a real handful up top. It was a holding offence on him, after he’d collected a long ball in, that resulted in the penalty award to the home team. Honeyman sent ‘keeper Conor Meaney the wrong way but the ball hit the butt of the upright and bobbled wide.
That was a let-off for us and within sixty seconds we’d grabbed the initiative, bagging a goal at the other end. It was a wonderful solo effort from Colm Lynch who drove through the Leitrim backline and smashed it to the net.
We led by two at the break and we eased clear early in the second half. James Lavelle banged over a second point, Tom Lydon started to find his range, booming over a great score, and by the mid-point in the second half, we were seven clear and looking comfortable.
Leitrim proved sticky opponents, though, and a goal, palmed to the net by Paul Honeyman after a well-worked attack, gave them renewed hope. Four down with ten to play, they knew they weren’t out of it yet.
We finished well, however, with points from Tom Lydon, Josh Carey (a mark) and sub Thomas Tuffy pushing us six clear as the game went into injury time. Leitrim bagged the last two scores of the evening, both from frees, but we’d done enough to seal a four-point win and, with it, our place in the Connacht semi-final.
Next up for the lads is a Round 5 meeting with Sligo next Friday evening back at Castlebar. This game is now a dead-rubber, as Roscommon’s win this evening over Sligo means they can’t now progress. This, perhaps gives us a chance to give a few lads a run before our thoughts turn to the Connacht semi-final the weekend after.
Mayo: Conor Meaney; James Lavelle (0-2), Eoin McGreal, Yousif Coghill; James Clarke (0-1), Rio Mortimer, Fionan O’Reilly; Tiernan Egan, Shane Cunningham; Colm Lynch (1-2), Tom Lydon (0-5, one free), Senan Guilfoyle (0-1, a free); Darragh Beirne (0-4, two frees), Josh Carey (0-1, mark), Gavin Forry. Subs: Dara Neary for McGreal, Fionan Burke for Forry, Thomas Tuffy (0-1) for O’Reilly, Conor Ryder for Cunningham, Cormac Moran for Guilfoyle.
Our Final Whistle pod from Páirc Seán is now online for club members on Patreon. Mike, Nigel Reape and I are on it, chatting about the game as well as the draw for the All-Ireland group stage and looking ahead to the Connacht LGFA final between Mayo and Galway on Sunday. Listen to it here.