Photo: Mayo GAA
Mayo came up trumps on their return to the football field this evening when they outgunned NUIG by three points on a scoreline of 0-12 to 1-06.
The cold weather did not keep the Mayo faithful away as the sides played in front of a crowd of almost 2,000, further proof that the men in red and green have one of, if not the, best supporter bases in the country.
James Horan brought in a raft of new faces to the side with the likes of Eoin Reilly, Tom King, Diarmuid O’Connor and Adam Gallagher getting their first run outs in a Mayo senior jersey.
The match itself took some time to get going with Mayo full-forward Darren Coen scoring the opening point of the game from a free after 10 minutes. This followed a period where Mayo could have put the ball in the students’ net on two occasions only for some fantastic last ditch defending.
NUIG had the better of the play in the opening half but it was Mayo who were creating more chances, though that old failing of not being able to take these chances was cropping up once again. However, with it being January we won’t hold it against them.
Mayo were creating goal chances, however, and could have had the ball in the net just before half time only for a brilliant save from the NUIG goalkeeper to keep Diarmuid O’Connor’s shot at bay.
The second half was much like the first, slow and laboursome as neither side seemed to be able to gather any sort of momentum and take control of the game.
Mayo pushed themselves four points clear with a few minutes to go and this seemed like it would be more than enough for victory considering the poor shooting on display from both sides.
But a goal from the students really put a cat amongst the pigeons with five minutes to go as it left the scores at 1-6 to 0-9.
But the Galway-based side were unable to get any closer as senior players like Colm Boyle and Andy Moran kept control of the ball for Mayo and the scoreboard ticked over twice more to leave the final score 0-12 to 1-6.
The new faces on the Mayo team today performed relatively well with the likes of Shane McHale as well as Tom King and Eoin Reilly showing good form for this time of the year, unsurprising considering Castlebar are in the middle of serious training for their club semi-final.
Photo: Mayo GAA
The fact that Mayo were unable to punish the huge amount of turnovers they received and could not take any of the six goal chances created will be something for James Horan to think about. But considering the team have not met up for a single group training session since last September should put some perspective on the performance.
Overall an enjoyable evening in Castlebar and it was good to see the new faces on show. Sunday should offer us a further glimpse at some of the bright prospects coming through.
Mayo: Robert Hennelly (0-2, ’45s); Keith Rogers (0-1), Kevin Keane, Eoghan Reilly; Brendan Harrison (0-1), Shane McHale, David Drake; Jason Gibbons, John Reilly; Adam Gallagher, Cathal Freeman, Diarmuid O’Connor; Tom King (0-1), Darren Coen (0-5, three frees), Mikie Sweeney (0-1). Subs: Stephen Coen for Harrison, Brian Gallagher for O’Connor, Andy Moran for Sweeney, Sean Kelly for Gallagher, Colm Boyle for Keane, Michael Conroy (0-1) for Kelly (black card).