U17s overcome late wobble to claim semi-final spot

Another day, another win over Kildare.

Unlike the Senior team at Croke Park yesterday, Mayo’s U17s were in control of this afternoon’s All-Ireland quarter-final against Kildare at O’Connor Park for much of the game. Indeed, they looked to be easing to a comfortable double-digit victory when their opponents took a leaf out of our book from yesterday, by throwing caution to the wind and pouring forward at every opportunity.

It was, though, too little, too late. Kildare did manage to cut the deficit down to four points but, in truth, we never looked in real danger of being overhauled and we got the final two points in injury time to win by 3-18 to 3-12.

The lads now go forward to the All-Ireland semi-final where, amazingly, they’re the only provincial champions left standing in a final four that includes Derry, Kerry and three-times beaten Galway who shocked Dublin in today’s other quarter-final at Tullamore.

Our lads’ semi-final will be against Kerry in a fortnight’s time. Double-header with the Kingdom then anyone?

Photo: Mayo GAA

We played against what appeared to be a stiff wind in the first half. We opted to run hard at them, which had their rearguard back-pedalling and created openings for us, but we also oddly chose to go long and high with all of our restarts, the majority of which they won, leading to plenty of scoring chances for them.

The result was an open, end-to-end half, at the conclusion of which we were four to the good. As it’s been for much of this U17 campaign, Niall Hurley and Ronan Clarke were once more to the fore in that opening half, with the former bagging two goals while the latter got the other one.

Niall’s first goal, blasted to the net after a super ball in by Cathal Keaveney put us back in front on ten minutes. Soon after we were four in front and it looked like we were starting to dominate.

In a flash, though, the game turned. Kildare hit us with 1-4 without reply to forge three ahead. During that spell we could hardly get out of our own half, as they gobbled up all of our restarts and kept coming at us.

Eventually, though, Ronan Clarke lifted the siege. He was fouled bursting through and converted the resultant free himself.

We then traded points with them before striking for two goals in under a minute. Niall Hurley showed great trickery and composure under pressure to retain possession and then feed Ronan Clarke who slid it to the net soccer style. Then they butchered a short restart and Niall Hurley was on hand to poke the ball home.

Photo: Mayo GAA

We led by four at the break and, with the strong wind now at our backs, the lads began to open it up and strike from distance. Some of our point-taking from out the field in that second half was very impressive and with five minutes to go it put us in an unassailable position.

Among the score-getters for us in that spell were the Hurley brothers (Niall with two absolute crackers), Ronan Clarke and Zac Collins. Pride of place, though, has to go to sub Oliver Armstrong who landed four absolute peaches, all of them from well out.

Eleven up with time running out, this game was over in every possible respect. Only Kildare didn’t agree with that conclusion.

They got a free a bit outside the 21 yard line which was lofted in and a Kildare hand met it to punch it to the net. They won the restart and poured forward again, with a shot for goal in the square adjudged to be a foot block. There was a delay of a few minutes as two of our players, including goalie David Dolan, were down injured but when he got up the Kildare man sent him the wrong way from the spot.

Now the gap was down to five points. Underage matches can swing wildly like this – we’ve all seen this happen – and now Kildare were full of confidence while our lads were visibly panicking.

As the game went into injury time they bagged a point from play to reduce the margin to four. But they were committing everything to attack now and got caught when we broke out, Niall Hurley bearing down on goal. I thought he might have gone for the killer blow but wisely settled for the point. A settling score it was too.

They scored one more point, from a free, soon after we’d survived a heart-stopping goalmouth scramble. But we had the final say on the scoreboard, with Niall Hurley (a mark) and Ronan Clarke (a free) closing out a well merited six-point win for us.

Mayo: David Dolan; Rio Mortimer, James MacMonagle, Lorcan Silke; Liam Maloney, Colm McHale, Paul Gilmore; Jack Keane, Luke Feeney (0-1); James Maheady (0-1), Dara Hurley (0-1), Diarmuid Duffy; Cathal Keaveney, Ronan Clarke (1-6, four frees), Niall Hurley (2-4, one mark). Subs: Oliver Armstrong (0-4) for Keane; Zac Collins (0-1) for Maheady; Dylan Gallagher for Dara Hurley; Seán O’Dowd for Gallagher; Conor Kelly for McHale.

15 thoughts on “U17s overcome late wobble to claim semi-final spot

  1. Congratulations to Séan Deane and his young Mayo charges.. A bit of a scare near the end, but worthy Victor’s!

  2. Donegal and management should be banned from Gaa for a year, playing ultra defensive and 7 point s down, you would wonder why Rochford is with them.

  3. Great bunch of lads. Two good teams going at it. Fair play to Kildare for that come back but fair play to our lads for keeping them at arms length. Very proud of our young men… and all our Mayo teams. Glas agus dearg, go deo.
    Maigheo abú

  4. Congratulations to the minors great win..Bit of a bum draw to get Kerry. Galway could end up in AL final despite losing 3 times in connacht and we could be out by losing once..

  5. Lahanman
    We go out and we beat kerry
    and then we go out and beat the winners of galway and derry
    no draw is a bum draw
    Every one of these teams have lost a game this year if not more
    we havent
    Up mayo.

  6. How you can say a bum draw in an Ireland semi final? As the last poster said, win the next 2 games to be worthy champions. We certainly have the team and management to do this.

  7. In the context of Kerry being traditionally very strong at minor level and Derry being potentially an easier Mayo have the tougher draw.

  8. Good win , and job done for our minors. Plenty to work on. We need a short kick out strategy when up against a stronger mid field like Kildare especially when playing into the wind. Kildare won 70% of kick outs yesterday and in particular in the second half when playing into the wind . That said our transition and lethal inside forward forward play and long range point taking was excellent. Also I felt our lads may have taken the foot off in the last 10 mins especially with the countdown clock right beside the main scoreboard , great for the supporters however may also have been a factor. Also the short turnaround could have impacted and we may have run out of legs towards the end of the game after the massive effort against a good Galway side on Monday evening and the elevation of winning the con title. Overall a very positive result , this was a potential banana skin for the lads , this was a good Kildare side and provided a big test which we came through. Now 2 weeks to regroup and plan for Kerry who will present another major challenge. I hope these lads can get into Croke Park with the seniors for that one they deserve it.

  9. John Smith I have to agree with ya. Kildare cleaned the midfield battle. In a tight battle the team that wins the middle wins the match

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