Minors find form to stun champions
A MAGNIFICENT display of precision football saw Mayo defeat hot favourites Tipperary in at Croke last Saturday evening.
Unheralded, and often criticised, Mayo produced a performance out of the top drawer in defeating the much-lauded All-Ireland title holders.
The sheer unpredictability of minor football was laid bare as Mayo dictated the trend and the pace of the game from beginning to end.
Obviously the dual champions entered the game supremely confident after sauntering through the Munster championship. After all, they had beaten Kerry, twice, and Cork on their way to retaining the title.
However, Mayo paid little respect to the formbook as they rattled the title-holders early on with some clinical finishing.
After the Connacht final, the Mayo attack bore the brunt of the criticism for failing to embellish some good outfield play with scores. However, the opposite was the case here as they delivered a masterclass in finishing.
All over the hallowed turf, Mayo had some outstanding individuals, while, their teamwork and high work ethic rose above everything else.
Obviously the Mayo management did their homework since the Connacht final in getting the performance spot on. They made a few vital switches that rejuvenated the team; placing Patrick Durcan at centre-back, with Kevin Lynch to his left proved a masterstroke.
Eoghan Lavin did very well at midfield, particularly early on when Mayo needed to stamp their authority on the game.
Giving Ballinrobe’s James Quinn a start at corner-forward added scoring power and pace to the forward line, as the impish attacker rowed in with three great points.
However, the performance wasn’t without blemish as Tony Duffy’s men still have some work to do in the area of off-loading the ball faster before taking it into the tackle.
Having said that, if they can improve as much again in the intervening period, then anything is possible.
Obviously the reigning champions weren’t ready for Mayo’s opening salvo as they were on the back foot from the start.
After Adam Gallagher opened their account with a great point from a sideline ball under the Cusack Stand, Tipp’ replied with a Colman Kennedy pointed free.
For the next 14 minutes Mayo played some great football and hit eight magnificent unanswered points from Shane Hennelly (two), Patrick Durcan, Adam Gallagher (free), Cian Burke, James Quinn, Diarmuid O’Connor and Eoghan Lavin (free).
Tipp’ eventually showed their class with some creative play. They looked dangerous when in possession but were often forced outfield due to some diligent defending.
John McGrath added their second point with 20 minutes gone. Minutes later an innocuous Ian Fahey free looked to be going wide, only to be kept in play, and ended up in the net from the boot of Philip Quirke.
Mayo went 25 minutes before registering their first wide, giving an indication of their finishing power. Just before the break, Eoghan Lavin (free) and Philip Quirke exchanged points, leaving the score at 0-10 to 1-3.
The fact that Tipp’ manager David Power kept his team on the field in a huddle for at least two minutes before going to the dressing room gave a hint of his alarm.
Mayo opened the second half with a great pointed ‘45 from Eoghan Lavin. From there on Tony Duffy’s side showed they could match anything their opponents had to offer.
Ten minutes into the half Mayo were five points to the good following points from James Quinn and Adam Gallagher (free).
Tipp’ replied with scores from John McGrath and TJ Ryan and then showed signs of their class, culminating in points from Ryan again and Colman Kennedy. They lost midfielder Steven O’Brien to a second yellow card for an over-zealous tackle on a Mayo player, however, this didn’t have any appreciable effect on the outcome as the winners were in full control prior to his dismissal.
Mayo scored a further six points before the finish from Patrick Durcan, Conor Byrne (two), Adam Gallagher (a sublime effort), Diarmuid O’Connor and James Quinn, with the losers only reply coming from a Philip Quirke point.
Mayo will face Meath in the All-Ireland semi-final on August 26.
C O’Malley; J Geraghty, S Moran, M Plunkett; P Durcan (0-2), C Burke (0-1), K Lynch; B Mullen, A Gallagher (0-4,3fs); E Lavin (0-3,1’45), S Coen, D O’Connor (0-2); J Quinn (0-3), S Regan, S Hennelly (0-2).
Subs used: C Byrne (0-2) for Regan; D Duffy for Mullen; R Coleman for S Hennelly; S Hennelly for E Lavin.
E Comerford; K Fahey, J Feehan, R Mulcahy; C O’Riordan, D Fitzelle, B Maher; S O’Brien, J Martin; I Fahey, J McGrath (0-2), G Henry; C Kennedy (0-2,1f), P Quirke (1-2,1f), T Kirwan.Subs used: J Loughnane for Fitzelle; J Lonergan for Martin; J Shelly for Henry; M Meagher for O’Riordan; TJ Ryan (0-2,1f) for Kirwan.
Referee: F Barry (Kildare)