Much-changed Minors dig out draw

With next Friday’s all-or-nothing Connacht MFC semi-final against Roscommon facing Mayo, the opportunity was understandably taken in tonight’s Round 5 match against Sligo to ring the changes in terms of team selection. As a result we took the pitch with a much-changed team, showing fourteen changes from last weekend, but, despite this, the two teams served up an entertaining contest, which ended 1-11 apiece.

Today felt in many ways like the first proper day of summer. The whitethorn blooming in abundance everywhere, sunshine and the temperature tipping 20 degrees in the west. Hastings Insurance MacHale Park was bathed in bright sunshine this evening, with the home team marginally enjoying the better of the exchanges in an entertaining first half.

The visitors opened their account right from the throw-in, when a burst forward led to a free that Lang popped over. Matthew Leonard responded from play for us, catching a crossfield ball from Ryan Gibbons who’d claimed a mark on the far side.

Ryan Gibbons then smashed over a real boomer to put us ahead but they hit back with two points in as many minutes. They wouldn’t, though, score again for over twenty minutes.

In the meantime we notched five points without reply to open up a bit of a gap on them. Fionnan Burke, off his trademark left, got the first, then Tiernan Egan collected the ball after the ‘keeper had saved his goal attempt, and drove it over.

Dara Neary got our next one, our only score from a free in the opening half. Then Thomas Tuffy drove forward, shipped a hefty shoulder and banged it over from well out. Fionnan Burke, collecting a clever kickpass inside, popped over his second to increase our lead to four.

Mostyn from a free finally got Sligo moving again and the same player bagged one from play just after. We made a mess of a restart, then committed an infringement at the hop ball and they scored the resultant 14-yard free to cut the gap to one. Fionnan Burke, from play, then scored to send us into the break two in front.

Sligo drew level early in the second half but we edged ahead again when, after a long period of possession, Seán Walsh popped up to knock the ball over the bar. They responded soon after with a point from Lang that just had the legs to make it over.

The direction of this contest was now very much in the balance but, just when it looked like Sligo might get on top, we broke through for a goal. Matthew Leonard got on the end of a ball pumped in from the right wing – which I think was an effort at a point – and the Stephenites player slid it home.

We were running the bench by then and the match was becoming disjointed but, coming down the closing stretch, still two points in front, we looked the likelier to prevail. This was despite getting very few decisions in our favour from a particularly fussy ref.

Then Sligo broke through for a well-worked goal, finished calmly, a score that put the Yeats County a point in front. That would have won it for them but for a late, late equaliser from Thomas Tuffy to secure a deserved share of the spoils for us.

Tonight’s match was meaningless for us in the broader scheme of things but Seán Deane will surely have been delighted nonetheless that what was in large part a second-string Mayo selection were able to eke out a share of the spoils. Now it’s on to weightier matters this night week, with a second meeting this year with Roscommon, this one a knockout tie, with both sides vying for the right to meet Galway in the Connacht final.

Mayo: Dylan O’Brien; Darragh McGovern, Seánie O’Reilly, Conall Breslin; Seán Walsh (0-1), Conor Jennings, Paddy Dunleavy; Tiernan Egan (0-1), Thomas Tuffy (0-2); Conor Nolan, Dara Neary (0-1, free), Conor Ryder; Fionnan Burke (0-3), Ryan Gibbons (0-1), Matthew Leonard (1-1). Subs: Luke Flatley for Nolan, James Lavelle for McGovern, Darragh Beirne (0-1) for Gibbons, Colm Lynch for Ryder, Evan Campbell (GK) for O’Brien.

In our Final Whistle pod from MacHale Park, Mike, Nigel Reape and I review tonight’s game and Mike also chats post-game with Seán Deane. The show is up now on Patreon.

3 thoughts on “Much-changed Minors dig out draw

  1. Great to see so many of the lads working so hard all year getting a chance to show what they’re capable of. Too many coaches become obsessed with momentum or winning mentalities to remember how vital minutes playing is to a squad too, especially at this grade. Great when you can do them all… but the right call tonight to throw some minutes about whatever way the result panned out.

    Imagine there’ll be a little frustration in the players despite a decent result given all the changes made.

    Some terribly poor calls on shot selection (a couple of unfortunate misses but a lot of our wides were wild attempts from low % zones) or where/when to foul (too often giving up the opportunity of a tactical foul around the middle when it was the right call and instead giving up silly tap over frees rather than forcing lads to kick under heavy pressure). Both scenarios made significantly worse with some of the baffling calls tonight (at one stage there was a Mayo attack with 4 separate potential fouls not given in about 15 seconds, the final one being a Sligo defender throwing his body to take out the Mayo mans legs where the ref awarded a throw ball. Must have been shocking frustrating for the lads so a lot of caveats on the poor shot selections).

    (Notable all of the minor games this year have been letting a lot of fouls go you’d see given at senior. Not sure if it’s a directive given to the refs but doesn’t seem to be one or two erroneous calls so much as the direction they want it to go. Be interesting if it continues the rest of the Championship)

    Seanie O’Reilly will walk away with a lot of credit. Did fantastically well from a few of the 1v1s he faced, earning a few outrageous turnovers when we looked like we could be in trouble on quick breaks. Lynch again showed a real touch of class when he came in. Silky smooth footballer and a real handful for any defender. Hard not to love that direct running with such ease and ability to go any direction at any moment making it so hard to stop.

    A lot of the problems we’ve hit all year again rose to the surface again despite the changes in personnel. Struggling with high ball around the middle, struggling with restarts (too often having to go long feeding into the fielding issues) and most worryingly struggling to stick with or apply enough pressure to deep runners. Hopefully a good opportunity to work on those in the coming week as they’re all areas Roscommon looked to be pretty strong and could cause problems.

    That said, huge positives in seeing so many of the squad we hadn’t seen before out there tonight and more than a few that you’d be comfortable taking a spot in the team if/when needed.

    Huge game coming against the Rossies. Can’t wait.

  2. All Ireland quarter final spot for the winner next Friday also. (to be played June 10th)

  3. Just listened to the Final whistle pod and great listening to Nigel and John’s take on proceedings. Have to agree with John on the ref being very picky. He seemed to have his arm raised continually and if he wasn’t being over fussy then our tackling was at fault. Mike’s chat with Sean Deane at the end has become a highlight for me on these Friday night games because Sean is calm in his overview and talks so much sense. These young lads are fortunate to have him in charge and his bullishness for all things Mayo is great to hear. His continual use of never taking a step backwards needs to be a mantra for all our county teams.

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