Mayo too clever for GMIT students
FOOTBALL FBD CONNACHT LEAGUE
THIS first game of the new season was always likely to follow a certain script and so it proved as an experimental Mayo selection managed to overpower a limited GMIT outfit after a typical FBD League skirmish.
Last Saturday night’s game will be remembered for a few reasons in particular; James Horan got his Mayo management career off to a winning start, Cillian O’Connor marked his senior debut with a goal and six points, and Kevin Dolan was stretchered off after five minutes with a broken jaw.
These were the main talking-points afterwards, along with Mayo’s improved second-half display, the encouraging signs from newcomers like Cathal Hallinan, James Burke and Ruaidhrí O’Connor, and the fact that GMIT really weren’t up to much despite their promising start.
There “a couple of positives” and “a lot of things we need to work on” admitted James Horan afterwards.
“We created 40 scoring chances. . We had a number into the goalkeeper’s hands, we had 17 wides, we hit the post a few times, so that’s one of the first things we need to look at — our scoring return.
“Our general work-rate and movement is something we need to up too.
“But there were a few good things. . Cathal Hallinan making his debut, David Killeen coming on, some of the new guys that came on did well, Cillian O’Connor had a good start up front, Ronan McGarrity did very well in the middle of the field in the second half so we were happy with those kind of things.”
Approximately 2,000 Mayo supporters wandered along to McHale Park for this historic first floodlit fixture and they saw no shortage of honest effort, mistakes, good intentions, and the odd moment of ingenuity despite the swirling wind and persistent rain.
Quite a lot of these classy contributions came from Ballintubber teenager Cillian O’Connor. Last year’s Mayo minor captain made an impressive start to his senior career, shooting five points from frees, clipping a sublime score from play, and smacking in a well-taken goal for good measure.
GMIT manager Pat Fallon would have been encouraged by his team’s demeanour early on as they raced into a 1-1 to no score lead after 12 minutes.
The goal came when Caherlistrane’s Eric Monaghan netted after a rare handling error from David Clarke.
However, despite playing with the breeze, the college side failed to make any more inroads against Mayo’s eager defence and they failed to score for the rest of the half.
At the other end, Mayo were having problems of their own, and three pointed frees from Cillian O’Connor was all they could muster as eight wides (including a cluster from Aidan Kilcoyne) spoiled some decent approach work.
Trailing by a point at the break, Mayo were much more focussed after the restart and two frees from O’Connor, allied to a superb long-range point from Ronan McGarrity, nudged them in front for the first time at the end of the third quarter.
The students were starting to feel the pinch at that stage and a lone free from Stephen Griffin turned out to their only score of a miserable 45 minute spell either side of half-time.
There was only going to be one outcome at that stage and when Cillian O’Connor capped a good night’s work with a goal on 47 minutes, the argument was settled.
The youngster also found time to arrow over the point of the game, in between a couple of Stephen Griffin frees, and sub’ Mark Ronaldson converted a penalty emphatically on 57 minutes to bring the loudest roar of the night.
Another trademark score from Ronan McGarrity (who seemed to enjoy himself in the second half) brought the curtain down on the opening night.
Unfortunately, Kevin Dolan’s facial injury did take some of the gloss off Mayo’s solid start to the new campaign.
The Tourmakeady captain suffered a broken jaw after falling awkwardly and colliding with an opponent just five minutes into his inter-county debut. Hopefully he will return to the playing fields sooner rather than later.
Mayo will now play Roscommon next Sunday in Ballyhaunis at 2pm.
D Clarke; C Hallinan, G Cafferkey, A Feeney; J Burke, M Nestor, C Barrett; R McGarrity (0-2), J Moran; A Campbell, A O'Malley, A Kilcoyne; K Dolan, A Moran, C O'Connor (1-6, 5fs).
Subs used: E Varley for Dolan (inj); M Ronaldson (1-0, pen) for O'Malley; D Killeen for Cafferkey; R O'Connor for Barrett; L Keegan for A Feeney.
B Walsh; A Tierney, C Boyle, D Crawford; D Lee, A Thompson, C Hands; C McCafferty, S Boyle; S O'Kennedy, S Griffin (0-5, 5fs), G Cafferkey; N Prenty, M Joyce, E Monahan (1-0).
Subs used: N Prenty for Joyce; M Coady for E Ward; D McIntyre for O'Kennedy.
Referee: J Molloy (Galway)