Mayo began the defence of their Connacht U20 title in fine style at a sun-washed MacHale Park this evening. Sligo proved no match for the free-scoring Mayo youngsters who cantered to a 19-point win, coming out on top on a scoreline of 1-25 to 1-6.
A succession of unanswered points in the first half laid the foundations for this win, which was watched by an attendance of close to a thousand punters. Mayo started well, with points from Evan O’Brien and Tommy Conroy settling them nicely in this contest, but Sligo’s second score of the evening left just two points between the sides.
Mike Solan’s team put the foot down then, banging over eight points without reply to lead by ten at the break. Leading the charge for them in that period were Tommy Conroy, Aiden Orme and Evan O’Brien, all of whom each bagged three first half points.
The Magpies had, though, a good opportunity to break this streak and cut the deficit when they were awarded a penalty shortly before half-time. Alan Reilly’s spot-kick was, however, saved by Mayo ‘keeper Jamie McNicholas.
It got no better for the Yeats County lads after the break as Mayo kept the scoreboard ticking over with further scores. With around ten minutes to go their tally had stretched to 21 points, by which time they led by sixteen.
It was then that Sligo broke through for a goal, Seán Carroll rifling home after the Mayo defence failed to clear their lines. Further points at the other end, one from Stephen McGreal and the other from Tommy Conroy, resumed normal service for the Green and Red.
There was no let up ’till the finish either. Oisín Mullin broke forward to find the net, stretching the Mayo lead still further, with Paul Towey tacking on the home team’s 24th point.
With time running out Mayo were reduced to fourteen players, with substitute Nathan Moran black carded after the full complement of replacements had already been brought on. It made no difference, though, as they ran out extremely comfortable 1-25 to 1-6 winners.
Mike Solan’s charges now go forward to the Connacht final this night week where they’ll play Galway. The young Tribesmen got the better of Roscommon by 0-17 to 1-7 at Kiltoom in this evening’s other provincial semi-final.
So it’s another Mayo/Galway showdown, with next Wednesday’s U20 provincial decider making it four meetings between the counties in under a week. Nothing like a bit of local rivalry, eh?