Connacht Senior Football Championship Quarter Final
Mayo eventually overcame a stiff Sligo resistance in Castlebar today in the Connacht Football Quarter Final to set up a showdown with rivals Galway in three weeks time. Sligo will be encouraged heading into the backdoor that they gave a good account of themselves and it wasn’t until Cillian O’Connor palmed to the net with a minute to go from close range after good work from substitute Conor Loftus that the result was beyond doubt.
Sligo started well playing with the aid of a strong wind, with their free takers Marren and Breheny finding their range early on and corner forward Stephen Coen slotting two stylish scores. Andy Moran kicked a beautiful point with the outside of his boot from the right touchline midway through the half to draw the game in what was a scrappy affair, both sides feeling each other out and defending in numbers when given the opportunity. However, a barnstorming run through the middle from centre forward Diarmuid O’Connor split the Sligo rear-guard and he rifled to the net with a dropkick just before half time to put Mayo ahead at the break, 1-6 to 0-5.
Many of the 14 plus thousand who attended in MacHale Park would have expected Mayo to use their wind advantage in the second half and pull away, but Sligo showed their grit to dig in and make Mayo work for everything they got and when substitute Niall Murphy scored a beauty off his left with ten minutes to go there was only a goal between the teams. However, Mayo kicked on and some great scores from Cillian O’Connor and Jason Doherty saw them home, even though the margin of victory certainly flattered them. Sligo’s best performers on the day were defenders Charlie Harrison and Brendan Egan, who drove up the pitch at every opportunity, bringing the game to their opponents. On the Mayo side, stalwarts Colm Boyle and Lee Keegan were as impressive as ever on a day where the blustery conditions made forward play difficult. A special mention must be given to the surface in MacHale Park which was magnificent, aswell as referee Sean Hurson from Tyrone who had a fine game.
Scorers for Mayo: Cillian O’Connor 1-6 (5fs), Diarmuid O’Connor 1-0, Andy Moran and Fergal Boland 0-2 each, Patrick Durcan, Kevin McLoughlin, Jason Doherty, and Danny Kirby 0-1 each.
Scorers for Sligo: Adrian Marren 0-4 (2fs, 145), Stephen Coen and Mark Breheny (2fs) 0-2 each, Aidan Devaney (f), Patrick O’Connor and Niall Murphy 0-1 each.
MAYO: David Clarke; Chris Barrett, Ger Cafferkey, Keith Higgins; Colm Boyle, Lee Keegan, Patrick Durcan; Seamus O’Shea, Tom Parsons; Fergal Boland, Diarmuid O’Connor, Conor O’Shea; Kevin McLoughlin, Cillian O’Connor, Andy Moran.
Subs: Jason Doherty for Kevin McLoughlin, Aidan O’Shea for Diarmuid O’Connor (BS), Aidan O’Shea for Andy Moran, Donal Vaughan for Conor O’Shea, Stephen Coen for Colm Boyle, Conor Loftus for Fergal Boland, Danny Kirby for Seamus O’Shea.
SLIGO: Aidan Devaney ; Ross Donovan, Charlie Harrison, Eoin McHugh; Keelan Cawley, Brendan Egan, John Kelly; Patrick O’Connor, Adrian McIntyre; Neil Ewing, Mark Breheny, Kyle Cawley; Stephen Coen, Pat Hughes, Adrian Marren.
Subs: David Kelly for Kyle Cawley, Kevin McDonnell for StephenCoen, Niall Murphy for Pat Hughes, Gerard O’Kelly-Lynch for Eoin McHugh, Stephen Gilmartin for J Kelly, Niall Gaughan for Keelan Cawley
Referee: Sean Hurson (Tyrone)