THE Mayo Junior footballers’ dream of winning three Connacht Championship titles in a row were dashed by Leitrim in Wednesday evening’s final in Charlestown.
The defending champions were beaten by three points with former Mayo manager John O’Mahony and Crossmolina’s Michael Moyles among Leitrim’s backroom team.
The all-important winning goal came on 24 minutes from James Campbell as Leitrim recovered from a slow start to power to victory.
Mayo had sprinted out of the blocks and led by 0-7 to 0-1 after 19 minutes with Mark Ronaldson of Shrule/Glencorrib and Brian Heneghan from Moy Davitts in flying form up front.
But Leitrim came roaring back and actually led at the break by 1-7 to 0-7 with Campbell’s goal being supplemented by points from Keith Keegan (2), Cathal McCrann and Domhnaill Flynn.
Mayo threatened to make a game of it during the third quarter with scores from Ronaldson (2) and James Kelly, but Leitrim again responded impressively.
The influential Cathal McCrann got the ball rolling with a free while Wayne McKeon, Niall McGovern and Gary Plunkett (2) also hit the target to put some daylight between the teams again.
Mayo staged a late rally as three Mark Ronaldson frees helped to close the gap to the minimum, but the reliable McCrann eased Leitrim nerves with two late frees.
M Flanagan; K Lynch, P O’Malley, C Walsh; J Kelly (0-1), R Neary, B Duffy; C Gordon (0-1), P Collins; M Ronaldson (0-9, 6fs), M Forde (0-1), K Gibbons; R O’Donoghue, J Carr, B Heneghan (0-4).
Subs used: S Nallen for Gordon; E McGrath for Neary; R Holian for Carr; D Walsh for Gibbons.
P Farrelly; J Mitchell, A Armstrong, J Cassidy; J Campbell (1-1), B Leydon, N Plunkett; D Flynn (0-3), K Keegan (0-2); C Gallagher (0-1), N McGovern (0-1), N McWeeney; G Plunkett (0-2), C McCrann (0-5, 4fs), W McKeon (0-1).
Sub used: O Madden for Leydon; K Beirne for Campbell; C McCawley for Gallagher.
Referee: J Molloy (Galway)