U20s overrun by Sligo’s second half surge

Our hopes for progression in this year’s highly competitive Connacht U20 Championship bit the dust in decisive fashion at Hastings Insurance MacHale Park this evening. In a classic game of two halves, we went in at the break four points ahead of defending champions Sligo but we had no answer to their strong second half surge.

We went down by 0-14 to 0-9 at the finish this evening. The defeat means that we’ve failed to advance to the knockout stage, with Roscommon, Galway and Sligo all progressing instead.

We made the perfect start this evening, scoring the first points of the game, all from play, with the wind behind us. Two of these came from Oisín Cronin, with Niall Hurley and Conal Dawson also finding the target.

From then to half-time we swapped scores. Ours, again all from play, came from Niall Hurley, Darragh Beirne and Tom O’Flaherty. We took a four-point lead into half-time.

By then, however, we were already ruing the wastefulness we’d shown in attack. We’d done the bulk of the attacking in the first half but had missed two gilt-edged goal chances and had kicked several wides into the bargain. The worry was that, facing into the wind, we’d regret this profligacy.

We didn’t have to wait long to realise that this was, indeed, what we’d be doing over the course of a quite calamitous second half. Sligo – fielding ten of the team that reached last year’s All-Ireland final at this age grade – came at us with intent on the resumption and we simply crumbled under the onslaught.

The point Finbar McLaughlin booted over early in the second half to put us four points up, after Darragh Beirne had missed what was a third clear goal attempt for us, was our final one until deep in stoppage time. In the meantime, however, the visitors ran through us at will, knocking over nine points without reply to turn the game on its head and set them on the road to victory.

That injury time point we got was drilled over by captain Seán Morahan. It was our final score both of the game and of what has turned out to be a desperately disappointing Connacht U20 campaign for us.

Sligo’s win sees them qualify for the semi-final where they’ll face Galway, as they seek to complete a hat-trick of provincial U20 titles. Roscommon, by virtue of their big win this evening over Leitrim, advance directly to the final.

We have at least one more U20 match to come this year, though, in the form of a B provincial decider against Leitrim. After tonight’s second half performance, not to mention the defeat in Ballinamore a fortnight ago, it remains to be seen if this is a challenge we’ll be capable of meeting.

If we do, though, we’ll then progress to a national second tier U20 competition and it’s what we’re able to do on that front which we need to focus on now.

Mayo: David Dolan; Rio Mortimer, John MacMonagle, David Slattery; Diarmuid Duffy, Seán Morahan (0-1), Tom O’Flaherty (0-1); Jack Melvin, Conal Dawson (0-1); Finbar McLaughlin (0-1), Cathal Keaveney, Oisín Cronin (0-2); Darragh Beirne (0-1), Niall Hurley (0-2), Darragh Reilly. Subs: Liam Maloney for Slattery, Tom Lydon for McLaughlin, Brendan Collins for Dawson, Paul Gilmore for O’Flaherty, Liam Moore for Cronin.

34 thoughts on “U20s overrun by Sligo’s second half surge

  1. Just not acceptable to be beaten by Sligo and Leitrim. Especially when you see what Roscommon did to Leitrim tonight. Don’t think I’ll have much interest in an U20 Talteann cup.

  2. I was willing to write off the Leitrim match as one of those things that can happen at underage. But Galway game aside we scraped a draw against Roscommon and were completely out-classed in tonight’s second half. Likely the first Mayo team to lose to both Sligo and Leitrim in a championship campaign? Too many wides in the first half left Sligo well in the game at half-time. Completely lost the plot in the second. Sligo upped the tempo and we had no answer. Out-muscled in every sector of the field. Sligo were kicking points for fun at the end. Disappointing but as noted the age-profile is good for the next couple of years, albeit not for this year. Not sure if the current management team are the best to guide the panel going forward. Was all-round poor tonight

  3. Not a good night, pretty much outplayed in the 2nd half against a Sligo team that could draw on the experience of 11 players that reached last years U20 AI. Certainly ahead of Mayo at U20 level having now lost to them for the 3rd year in a row at this grade.

  4. So much for this talanted panel of young footballers that were going to be the backbone of the senior team going forward….

  5. Disappointing to see mayo fans leave the match early, it reflects poorly on the character of those supporters some of whom would be well known in their east mayo club who are now junior.

  6. Don’t be writing off these lads. Whether it was the right call or not, management have gone with a team mostly of u19 or younger & this was always a possibility. It might bear fruit in future.

    I remember being at the 2009 U21 All Ireland semi final between Mayo & Down. We didn’t look up to much that day, but I never envisaged how many great players were on that team. Look at this line up…

    Robert Hennelly (0-1, a ‘45’); Eoghan Reilly, Kevin Keane, John Broderick; Donal Vaughan, Lee Keegan, Kevin McLoughlin (0-2, frees); Tom Parsons, Aidan O’Shea (0-3); Cathal Carolan (0-1), Frank Burke, Brian Gallagher; Mikey Sweeney (1-1), Neil Douglas (1-0), Jason Doherty (0-1, free). Subs: Sean Prendergast for Broderick, Niall Prenty for Gallagher, Alan Freeman for Carolan.

    That team was the backbone of our great team of the last decade.

  7. Well, the long and short of it is that this was a pathetic u20campaign. I listened with genuine enthusiasm to the Peadar Gardiner interview when he and his backroom team were announced and if I recall correctly he said that his goal was to make this Mayo team very difficult to play against. He spoke very well and had me convinced that these lads could be dark horses to go deep into the championship. Unfortunately this was a case of talking the talk but not walking the walking. Speaking of walking……

    Simply unacceptable. This was a talked up management ticket with no history of success managing an overhyped group of young lads who had nothing more than a provincial minor medal in their locker. Wait and see now how the 17’s will get talked up.

    I’ve been beating this drum a long time. Mayo supporters and media (including those running podcasts) use ridiculously ott language spewing unwarranted praise on players who’ve won nothing.

  8. The County Board and Mayo GAA needs a serious restructuring and rebuild. We are going backwards!

  9. As I said two weeks ago it was Madness not to a point Sean Deane as under 20 manager
    It was there for all to see that he & his management team got the best out of this group of players of 2022 & 2023 winning back to back connacht titles & an all lreland final runners up.
    It been proven tonight it was 100% the wrong decision not to a point him. Finishing bottom of the group is a new low for mayo football.
    The county board got it 100% wrong.

  10. I couldn’t agree more Mayonaze regards some of those podcasts who seem to be afraid of saying anything negative that might upset their listeners. Mayo supporters are well able to make up their own minds without having their hopes built up by some of the rubbish talk t9 have to listen to…

  11. John, if you think podcast listeners want nothing more than honeyed words, you’re about as far off the mark as you could be. In our experience, listeners want honest opinions, which is what we at least strive to provide, aiming where possible to avoid going too high or too low.

  12. Aww stop, so poor/disappointing. That was a complete collapse in the 2nd half, I cannot understand it. There are no excuses to be losing to Sligo and Leitrim. It is All Irelands we should be winning. There is something wrong -but will anything be done from the powers that be – not a thing.

  13. Lads, Sligo are doing an awful lot better than they have been at underage level. I would argue they are the standard bearers in Connacht. Their schools are doing well and they have lads showing well in the Sigerson. I expect them to beat Galway next week. Leave the Mayo young lads alone, not the time to be sticking the boot in, probably a lot of sessions put in and would imagine they are disappointed this evening.

  14. Unless we accept that this result is unacceptable, that finishing fifth in Connacht is unacceptable, that losing to Leitrim is unacceptable, we cannot move on from it. As far as I’m concerned, this is one of the lowest ebbs of Mayo football and I’ve seen a lot of them. This is not a case of “lessons need to be learned.” This is a case of Mayo football needing to take a long hard look at itself. Things need to urgently change or this is what feeds into senior football over the next five years. Then we’re being beaten by Sligo in a Connacht Semi Final. Might sound like scaremongering but it’s my genuine opinion. We can take this seriously or we can ignore it, like we did for the last two seasons. We have a serious problem at underage. If it’s not immediately addressed, the senior season is going to be getting shorter every year.

  15. Tommy+Joe – you are 100% right.
    If the people running Mayo GAA cannot see that we are in a crisis- I am not sure how many more wake up calls they need.
    We all want to see Mayo teams succeed at all levels – but we are so far off that level at the moment.

  16. Serious disappointment in tonight’s result. It is time all of us opened our eyes. Our senior team from 2012 to 2021 papered over a lot of cracks in our GAA world. They were supplemented by winning minor title in 2013 and U21 three years later but other than that we have been poor at underage. Yes we reached u17 and u 20 finals but didn’t look like winning either. Most of the golden generation of that decade are now gone and have not been replaced by similar standard players. We have a competitive senior team but they are well short of being near an All Ireland title. Yet we continue to convince ourselves that we are there or thereabouts. Hence the shock when Roscommon and Cork beat us last year before Dublin hammered us in the quarter final Why were we so shocked. How many players have we that would get into the top 20 in the country. We have one scoring forward and are not convincing in any areas of the field. This is not a criticism of the players. They are what they are and always represent us with commitment and pride but at the moment they are not as good as what Kerry, Dublin and Derry are and no better than 5 or 6 other counties. We can blame management all we want but they pick the best players available. Our new players are not as good as what we had. We still look down our noses at other teams thinking we are superior. Sligo have beaten us at u 20 for three years in a row. Time to give Sligo credit. Roscommon beat us in senior last year but we looked for excuses rather than accepting the better team won. I pray that doesn’t happen next Sunday but it may happen and who will we blame then. Maurice Sheridan got dogs abuse for his management in the last two years but we have been worse at u 20 this year. We have really serious issues in Mayo at the moment. Our county final last year was woeful, our clubs generally perform poorly in Connacht championship. We need a serious review of how we do things when smaller counties with a much smaller playing pool are beating us. To lose to Leitrim and Sligo who combined have a much smaller selection than us should seriously make us open our eyes. Sligo must be doing fantastic work at underage to beat us 3 times in a row, to take out the three big dogs in Connacht last year and then beat Kerry in a semi final. I don’t know a huge amount about our under 20 team but hearing that most of them are aged again nexts year suggests we must have a very poor u 19 bunch. Hopefully our senior team can rescue a dreadful week for us on Sunday and go on to win a Connacht title but at this moment in time it seems the best we can hope for.

  17. Very disappointing evening in McHale Park. Congrats to Sligo and hope they go One better than last year.
    We need to look at our Academy structures and see if were getting value for money.
    1) Have we the proper Coaches in place? Are Ex County players Qualified to take on these roles, without experience at a minimum of Club level experience?
    2) Young players called into the Acamedy and on County Panel’s, ie, U-17 not allowed play with there peer’s in Schools games at the business end of there competitions?
    3) As above, I thought a rule was brought in at County Convention a couple of years ago that a named panel of 26 players ,with the rest of the panel being released back to there clubs was passed. The Underage leagues are now in progress with no County panelist’s being allowed play with there Club team?
    To me this is wrong as you create an Us verus Them scenario ,where the County Panelist is not integrating with there Pier’s from there own club.
    Finally have we the right Coaching Officer’s at County level , Coaching the Coaches down through the Grades? Maybe that should have been Point Number One.

  18. Ah here we are blaming podcasts now for our defeats or below par performaces well thats a new one makes a change from blaming a funeral in Foxford.

  19. I thought it was an u20 competition, not an u19..Surely you have to have as many 20 yearolds on the team as possible,.This management team is after throwing a full generation of players on the scrap heape. A full 20 year old would be a lot stronger than a player just out of minor.SayinYoug teams are too physical for us doesn’t wash, You don’t send a boy to do a man’s job. Underage should always go from year to year,with a good turnover of players. That squad and team was not the strongest u20 team in the county, not by a longshot Where was Mc Halel and Clarke from Moy Davits.And also Oliver Armstrong from Knockmore,

  20. Wouldn’t use that as excuse @Klopp. Last year Sligo’s starting team was filled with 18,19 year olds in their starting U20 team and they beat Galway,Roscommon,Mayo and Kerry to reach the AI final. 11 of those same players played tonight.

  21. For those of you that dont realise…we finished bottom…thats bottom of the group!

    What in the name of god are we doing at all in this county? Lost to leitrim and sligo…two counties with a handful of clubs in comparison to Mayo. Is there any plan at all underage

  22. Is it a case of ” too many cooks…..” That showing this evening was deplorable! I went to a college where , not one of that team would have made the team. When I see the backroom team I think ” many men, many opinions” and it showed on the field tonight. They looked all mixed up. As bad as not winning ‘Sam’ was in my lifetime we were always there or thereabouts at underage.

  23. The biggest mistake was not giving this job to Damien Egan.

    He was by far the best qualified candidate. He was selector when Mayo last won the U20s, he won the college’s all Ireland with Ballinrobe. He was very unlucky not to get Garrymore to a county final.

    Yet we gave it to Gardiner because he had ‘big names’ on his ticket. The dog on the street knew the second he announced Higgins and Horan in his backroom team he would get the job.

    I have nothing against a Horan, but can he really be fully committed to this project. He has a full time job in Ballina, he does the Irish Examiner podcast and writes an article in the examiner. He is part of the Football Review Group.

    This is epicentre of our issues. Gardiner was selector last year under Sheridans calamitous rein, yet this was overlooked.

    I would have no problem giving the job to Gardiner, if he had more experience

    I said this at the time, Egan had to have got this job. Plain simple, now we are paying the price.

    Let’s move on now and give the Rossies a good trimming at the weekend!

  24. The main reason of this loss was mgmt not seeking out and using the best 20 and 19 year olds. The 18 year olds were not going to be up to this level.
    Sorry, you don’t get to say “No stone unturned” when it is factually true that the team was not strong enough because of the 20 year old group being dismissed.

  25. Maybe we just don’t have the talent and maybe our best underage players have left the GAA due to pressure .

  26. A very valid point JP.

    The pressure to bet Leitrim Left half back is it? Don’t agree on your point re talent…

  27. @Mayonaze & John+McHale

    I agree 100% about overhyping players. We are doing with with the current senior team, U20 and now minor team. I’ve heard so much talk about the two young Hurley lads from claremorris, how they are the next two big stars. Jesus Christ can people not relax and give the lads the chance to develop. They may well become excellent players but let’s not blow their head before they even start out their senior careers

    God help young Kobe McDonald. No doubt the lad looks like a talent but he’s already getting way too much media attention and hype because of his name and who his father is. There is every possibility he will be a fine player but let’s not just assume he’s the next David Clifford.

    Our county board is just as much to blame. As another poster mentioned Sean Dean would have been a natural successor moving on from minor. Personally my preference was Egan. But what does or CB do? Go with the fancy big names. There is an argument they did the exact same with senior management. Went with the flashy names. If we lose at the weekend serious questions will need to be asked.

  28. Although we lost last night I still think we can take a lot of positives from the game. At the end of the day it’s not all about winning. Many lads there tonight will be on the senior panel in years to come. We have to get behind them now for the B competition and give them our support

  29. I posted on here when the u 20s appointment was made that I could not understand how anyone thar had any involvement with the previous management team was even considered. It was a bad campaign under Sheridan and no better this year with his sidekick. You reape what you sow.

  30. Just watched the highlights back this evening, does not make pretty viewing from our perspective.

    Fair play to Sligo, they are obviously doing something right up there, but from our point of view, it should never be acceptable to lose to them three years in a row (convincingly in the last two) or to finish bottom of the Connacht group. Their largest population centre is, after all, mostly concerned with soccer, which is not so much a factor in our case.

    We have been very disappointing (for the most part, a couple of stellar sides aside) for the past decade or so. So is it a case of structures or finance or other factors? Maybe we have been taking more of a development focus on the youth set up, I don’t know. But results have not been great, and it worries me that we have fallen not only behind Galway and Roscommon in this regard but also Sligo and Leitrim. Maybe someone closer to the scene can better inform me on this matter.

    Don’t forget that the strong senior side of the previous decade had several players from the All-Ireland winning U21 side in 2006 and one which probably should have won the minor title in 2008. It’s important to be competitive at youth level so that losing doesn’t become a habit.

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