NUI, Galway 0-11
THERE was no escaping the sense of anti-climax after the curtain fell on another FBD Connacht League last Friday night despite Mayo’s sixth victory in the competition.
NUI, Galway’s poor performance (which saw them outscored by 1-12 to 0-6 over the final 45 minutes) deprived James Horan, his players, and their supporters of an opportunity to learn anything of great consequence ahead of the visit of Kerry next weekend.
A six-point victory for the defending champions seemed just about right after a match that NUIG’s Peadar Gardiner described afterwards as “a training game”.
“We’re delighted to win it but there’s a lot of stuff about tonight that we wouldn’t be happy with,” remarked Mayo’s manager afterwards.
“Our effort in the first half wasn’t good enough for inter-county level. We upped it a bit in the second half and you could see that when we put pressure on NUIG that we ran out quite easy winners in the end.
“Overall, again, it was a game where we played in spurts and we have to try and address that. We just didn’t work hard enough and nothing else comes if you don’t work hard enough.”
Horan went on to name-check Keith Higgins, Jason Gibbons, Andy Moran and Andy Kilcoyne for their leadership in the second half, in particular.
They were also to the fore during the second quarter as Mayo recovered from a slow start to reel John Maughan’s students back in, before kicking on after half-time.
An unanswered scoring burst of 1-3 in the space of three minutes between the 38th and 41st minutes did most of the damage to the students who faded fast down the home stretch.
“I thought the goal was the real turning point,” admitted Peadar Gardiner. “Our heads seemed to go down, Mayo cleaned us out on breaking ball. “We’re disappointed but it might be a blessing in disguise for us because our big game is on Thursday against Sligo IT.”
In hindsight, whatever enjoyment and competitive element there was to be taken from this low-key affair came in the first half.
Despite pitching in seven of the side that drew with Down in the NFL eight days earlier, Mayo started sluggishly and found themselves trailing by 0-2 to 0-5 after 12 minutes.
NUI, Galway were all cut and thrust early on and scores from Peadar Gardiner, Denis Coroon, Aidan Mullin, Stephen Gilmartin and Jason Doherty (free) underlined their dominance.
However, once Ronan McGarrity and Jason Gibbons settled into their rhythm around the middle, and Keith Higgins, Andy Moran and Aidan Kilcoyne got warmed up, Mayo began to motor.
They were level on 20 minutes after Moran nailed a couple of sweet scores (one with the fist and the other with his left foot) and Mark Ronaldson curled over an eye-catching effort from distance.
The sides remained deadlocked at half-time (after being level on five different occasions) after Burrishoole’s Jason Doherty swopped a brace of well-struck frees with two fine points from Enda Varley and Mark Ronaldson at the other end.
At that stage it seemed as though the second half would be nothing if not closely-fought. Instead Mayo outscored their beleaguered guests by 1-7 to 0-4 with James Moran, fresh off the bench, and Jason Gibbons holding sway at midfield.
Aidan Kilcoyne’s excellent 40th minute goal, after Gibbons made the decisive break, seemed to drain the life out of NUI, Galway and the concession of a string of points did nothing for their enthusiasm either.
Jason Doherty continued to tack on a few frees and Peadar Gardiner spooned a late shot over the crossbar but there was never any question of NUI, Galway making a game of it.
Mayo kept them at arm’s length and indulged in some shooting practice before Andy Moran jogged up the McHale Park steps to pick up the Paddy Francis Dwyer Cup.
Another box had been ticked and that will do for now.
R Hennelly; C Hallinan, D Killeen, C Barrett; L Keegan, K Higgins, R O’Connor; J Gibbons, R McGarrity; A Campbell (0-1, 1f), A Moran (0-2), A Farrell (0-1); E Varley (0-1), A Kilcoyne (1-3, 1f, ‘45), M Ronaldson (0-6, 4fs).
Subs used: C Freeman for Varley (inj); J Moran for McGarrity; A Feeney for Hallinan; J Burke for O’Connor; R Feeney for Keegan.
N King; C McDonald, K O’Connor, R Rochford; P Gardiner (0-2), K Conroy, J Moore; S Gilmartin (0-1), D Coroon (0-1); M McHugh, A Dillon, A Mullin (0-1); N Douglas, G Higgins, J Doherty (0-6, 6fs).
Subs used: S McHale for O’Connor; F Deasmhunaigh for McHugh; K Conlan (Leitrim) for Higgins; K Conlon (Galway) for Conroy.
Referee: O Kelly (Roscommon)
THERE will be no time for NUI, Galway to drown their sorrows as they take on IT Sligo in the Sigerson Cup on Thursday in Ballinode.