Serious statement by super U17s

After three wins on the spin in the round-robin phase of this year’s Connacht U17 Championship coming into this game, Mayo’s meeting this evening with Galway at Tuam Stadium was expected to be a step up for them. If it was, then it was a challenge they were ready for as they blew their opponents away, winning emphatically by fourteen points on a scoreline of 1-15 to 0-4.

Having missed the team’s opening three matches over the last three weeks – I was driving up from the west when two of the games were on and I was away for the other one – I was really looking forward to seeing this young Mayo team in action. I’d heard they were good but what I saw on the Connacht GAA stream this evening went well beyond my expectations.

In what was initially a cagey contest, with both sides funnelling numbers back and crowding their backlines, Mayo laid the foundations for victory with an exhibition of resolute defending in the first half. Rio Mortimer – what a talent this kid is – and Lorcan Silke were excellent in a full back line where John MacMonagle put in an imperious opening half, repeatedly turning over the ball and getting his side moving.

Galway had the first score on the board before I settled down to watch the stream – in which Mike Finnerty was on commentary, with Declan O’Reilly riding shotgun – but that was their only score until the sixth minute of the second half. By then, our lads were all but out the gate.

We took a while, though, to trouble the scoreboard ourselves. It was only after a long period of cautious probing by both teams – with both of them missing half-chances for goals early on – that we eventually opened our account. We did it with a fine score too, Rio Mortimer feeding Jack Keane who struck it over sweetly from distance.

That score got us going and further points followed in quick succession. Niall Hurley (a mark) and Ronan Clarke, stroking it over languidly after he’d claimed possession when a long ball broke kindly for him, edged us two clear.

The lively Hurley was on the scoresheet again soon after, his Claremorris clubmate Rio Mortimer bagging another assist, as Niall skipped by the flailing Galway cover and pointed impressively.

The Mayo lads were now visibly growing in confidence, taking the game with more intent to what was already a slightly rattled home team. Diarmuid Duffy, whose storming runs forward were a feature of the Mayo attack, was taken out of it after he’d offloaded the ball and the Galway no.4 was black carded for the foul.

Mayo’s ‘keeper David Dolan trotted up to take the free, which was close to the ’45 metre mark. Despite the wind blowing against him he drove it over. Then on the stroke of half-time the Balla netminder repeated the dose, this time from further out on the wing, the ball dipping over and landing on the roof of the net.

With Galway still down a man for the opening seven minutes of the second half, the visitors opened the second period on the offensive. The scores arrived rapidly.

Diarmuid Duffy got the first one and then James Maheady exploded into the contest, driving over two points, one off each foot, the second of which, off his left from distance, was a real peach.

Galway, via an Eanna Monaghan free, eventually ended their scoring drought. By now, though, it was clear they were facing an uphill battle. Another Monaghan free was responded to with a third point from James Maheady at the other end.

Galway, via a Curley mark, replied to that one. That score, bagged on the 41st minute, was, though, the home side’s final one of the evening.

We then moved to put the contest to bed. Diarmuid Duffy’s eye-catching runs were already a feature of this game and when he bore down on the Galway goal with his latest one it was clear what his intent was. His shot was emphatic and the goal put us nine clear.

From then to finish, it was a canter for Seán Deane’s charges. Not that the lads eased off – far from it, in fact, as this hard-working unit simply kept going about their business, with Galway’s resolve utterly broken well before the finish.

Further scores from Niall Hurley, Diarmuid Duffy (two, the second an outrageous outside of the boot effort), Ronan Clarke, Rio Mortimer (which cannoned over off the left-hand post) and sub Dylan Gallagher closed out a seriously impressive win for the Mayo lads.

With four wins from four in the round-robin phase, Mayo now go forward to the Connacht final, where they may well end up crossing swords with tonight’s opponents once again. Galway still have another round-robin game to play and, assuming they win that, a semi-final the weekend after that before they can think about jousting with tonight’s victors for a second time.

The format of the U17 Championship means that Mayo are now guaranteed two more days out, as both provincial finalists go forward to the All-Ireland quarter-finals. This year it’s Connacht v Leinster so, with their place in the All-Ireland Series now secured, Seán Deane and his colleagues can start to turn their minds to the challenges that await there.

Tonight, though, the team’s management and the lads themselves can take pride in what was, by any measure, a very impressive outing. Following our recent travails at Senior level and the daft manner in which our U20 campaign became derailed, this big win by the U17s is a nice shot in the arm for the county, not least in light of the manner of the victory and the hints they’ve shown of emerging talent in the ranks.

Well done to the lads and here’s to more positive days head for them.

Mayo: David Dolan (0-2, frees); Rio Mortimer (0-1), John MacGonagle, Lorcan Silke; Liam Maloney, Colm McHale, Paul Gilmore; Jack Keane (0-1), Luke Feeney; James Maheady (0-3), Zac Collins, Diarmuid Duffy (1-2); Cathal Keavney, Ronan Clarke (0-2), Niall Hurley (0-3, one a mark). Subs: Dara Hurley for Collins, Dylan Gallagher (0-1) for Keane, Seán O’Dowd for Maheady, Oliver Armstrong for Feeney.

Club members on Patreon will be able to tune into our ‘Final Whistle’ podcast later on this evening. Mike Finnerty will be reviewing the game on it with Nigel Reape and the pod will also feature Mayo manager, Seán Deane.

28 thoughts on “Serious statement by super U17s

  1. Sounds like this was a serious performance from these young lads. Any day you put 14 points on Galway represents a serious bit of work.

  2. Think our No 12 Diarmuid Duffy got MOM, he put in a super performance, but I thought our full back MacMonagle should have edged it, he was outstanding, in what was a great team performance. Well done to the players and management.

  3. Was in tuam, galway were so poor. The home supporters were understandby frustrated. Not a big mayo crowd there but made their presence felt, especially when David Dolan popped over the first 45m free off the ground.
    Mayo were impressive, worked hard and look forward to how the season pans out for them.

  4. Rober… frustrated is a nice way of putting it…
    There’s no complaints here, Mayo far superior, young Rio has the x factor, Galways tactics of kicking ball across the field was terrible.

  5. Really impressive performance from the young lads.

    The score board looked great but even more impressive was managing to not only fix the few niggles they’d had in previous games but managing to make what Galway would have seen as their weaknesses coming into the game into their greatest strengths tonight. They completely locked down the center of that defense into a turnover hotspot, an area that had been vulnerable to runners in each of our previous games. Great work by Sean Dean and every member of the panel and team around them for the work they’ve clearly put in.

    Fair play to Galway managing to keep Hurley and Clarke so quite. A slightly odd thing to say with the them managing 3 points and 2 points respectively. They still showed glimpses of their magic with some amazing scores but never took the grip of the game they’ve managed in our previous outings. For anyone new to the two lads Galway didn’t let them get out of second gear tonight.

    The flip side there is the joy seeing new names cropping up demanding some praise.

    Diarmuid Duffy looked good on work rate, turnovers, tracking runs, ball skills, vision, long range shooting or close range finishing he did it all. A thoroughly deserved pick for man of the match.

    That said, he only just pipped it from David Dolan (huge praise to the work Shane Nallen has done with David, hard to believe he’s still relatively new to the position), John MacMonagle (an absolute rock playing out of position at full back and looked dangerous going forward when Galway tried pulling him out of position to his normal home at half back), Luke Feeney (incredible work grafting around the middle and some inspirational fielding tonight) or James Maheady (probably one of the lads who’d have been a little disappointed with his scoring return in previous games, despite working his socks off, but exploded early in the second half hitting some outrageous points while still making huge turnovers at the back).

    At this point I think the only frequent starters I haven’t singled out for praise in a game are Liam Maloney, Colm McHale and Jack Keane… all of whom were fantastic this evening and consistently impressive throughout the campaign so far. While Hurley and Clarke will get a lot of the headlines it’s an impressive squad right down to lads not listed on the bench tonight.

    I’d fully expect Galway to bounce back and make it into the final. They looked like they had the potential to blow us away those first ten or fifteen minutes had a few chances ran differently. They then looked to struggle to adapt to an unexpected tactic which really threw them, which is fairly understandable at this age the first time you hit it. It’ll be interesting to watch how it might evolve second time out. Can’t imagine they’ll be half as shocked hitting that style of blanket defense again after some of the review work, if they do hit the same next time, though as we’ve seen with our senior side hitting getting past one even with multiple attempts isn’t so easy.

  6. Great news to hear alright after all the doom and gloom the last few weeks. Surely this suggests the talent is there in Mayo but sometimes the tactics / managerial style aren’t quite the right fit. I’m a big fan of James Horan but maybe a rethink on tactics are essential if we are to maximize our potential at senior level and react to the ever evolving nature of the modern game. To be fair there have been glimpses of lateral thinking and swift on the line reactions over the last two years but probably not enough.

  7. That was the only time I saw this team play and 16 year olds are too young to be sure of their senior potential but that has to be the best underage team since the 2013-2016 vintage. Duffy at number 12 reminds me of Diarmuid O’C when he was young. So many comfortable footballers on that team. Great to see and bodes well.

  8. Great performance all round. Some serious footballers out there tonight but games at this age group can be misleading. I fully expect Galway to be in the final with us and while Mayo have no game before that Galway will play Leitrim next Friday and Sligo/Ros the next week. Those games will stand to Galway and I believe the final will be 50/50. The first 15 minutes were shadow boxing but Galway looked a bit slicker than us but once Keane equalised Mayo seemed to relax and recognise that maybe all the hype about Galway was just hype. Thereafter the lads played some fabulous football and the scoreline didn’t flatter them.
    Willie Joe you said young Dolan scored 2 long range frees but I’m sure he got an even longer one in the 2nd half but I could be dreaming.
    Finally, I was so impressed by manager Deane when Mike interviewed him after the game. Came across as someone with the care and wellbeing of his players uppermost in his thinking. All in all a smashing evening.

  9. Interesting to note that the full back and centre back are moved one line back compared to where typically played at club level.
    So important to be thinking player type to fill the crucial 3 and 6 jerseys. Always thought those two jerseys are 50% of your defense.
    The team coming after, this year’s u16 squad are a decent squad also.

  10. Is it Connacht v Leinster in both quarters does anyone know? In other words Connacht champs play Leinster runners up and Connacht runners up play Leinster champs?

  11. A great performance by all accounts. Hopefully the 3 weeks break won’t be a hindrance considering their opposition in the final will be on a roll at that time. Great to see so many options especially in attack with more available considering none of the lydons were even on the subs.

  12. Good performance by the team, just let them play football now and no silly back passing like rest of Mayo teams.

  13. 8 players on the scoresheet is a fair achievement. No doubt Galway will be sharper and wiser in 3 weeks time but we’re in the driving seat..

  14. I wouldn’t write off Roscommon or Sligo in particular either , both sides showed plenty of potential against us with Sligo scoring 3-10 last week in Ballina …

  15. Wouldn’t be convinced the Connacht final means a whole pile , obviously it’s a medal to cherish for a young man but the prize of a qf place is won already .

    What counties are in the Leinster final or is it at that stage ?

  16. Think it’s dublin v Kildare in Leinster final Great win for our lads last night and really great win for hurlers today Beating Derry and their Slaughtneil contingent is some achievement

  17. @Sean Burke, Dublin and Kildare are playing the Leinster Final on Wednesday the 18th.

    Both appear to be flying this year (wouldn’t be surprised if we’ve come across some of the Kildare lads with Naas CBS this year who looked fantastic) so wouldn’t expect an easy game either side of that draw. Sport TG4 has both their semi finals available for free on the YouTube channel if you fancied checking either of them out ahead of quarter finals. – Dublin v Offaly (went viral for the free taking run up) – Kildare v Wicklow

  18. Thanks TSU , will have a gander later , can’t take my eyes off the under 20 final , point scoring is outrageous.

  19. Canavan and Devlin look real talents there. You’d expect to see them pushing into senior ranks in the near future.

  20. Young Canavan seems like a serious talent. Is he allowed to slot into the Tyrone seniors straightaway for the qualifier run?

  21. Willie Joe
    Would it be possible to get Sean Rice on for an interview on his years covering Mayo and playing etc.He would have some stories opinions and memories.

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