FOOTBALL FBD INSURANCE LEAGUE
A LAST-GASP goal from Leitrim’s Brendan Gallagher meant Mayo started their FBD League campaign with a draw after a relatively poor game in MacHale Park on Wednesday evening.
Mayo recovered from a two-point deficit at the break to hold a three-point lead heading into the depths of injury-time, but a ‘hit and hope’ ball into the edge of the Mayo square with time almost up gave Leitrim a draw they probably deserved.
Mayo manager Stephen Rochford fielded an inexperienced side and handed senior debuts to nine players against a Leitrim team that were visiting Castlebar for the first time since their 2012 Connacht SFC semi-final defeat.
Brendan Guckian’s men had the first major opportunity of the game after only two minutes when Colm Moreton found Darragh Rooney with a neat ball over the the top, but he was denied brilliantly at point-blank range by debutant Paddy O’Malley in the Mayo goal.
Leitrim’s Brian Gallagher registered the game’s first score with a free three minutes later, until Mayo found their groove and hit five unanswered points courtesy of Fionn McDonagh, Ross Egan, Neil Douglas, Ciaran Treacy and a free from the returning Alan Freeman.
Heavy rain poured down for the entirety of the first half and hampered the fluidity of both sides’ play, in particular from the makeshift homeside who allowed Leitrim to hit six points in the final 10 minutes of the half.
Gallagher exchanged frees with Freeman, before Leitrim capitalised on some sloppy mistakes from Mayo to head into half time 0-8 to 0-6 ahead.
Damien Moran pointed from near the sideline seconds after coming off the bench, before Gallagher (2, one free), Eoin Ward, Keith Keegan and Aiden Flynn also hit the target.
Mayo set their stall out early in the second half as wing-back James Stretton was hauled down for a penalty, but Leitrim stopper Diarmuid McKiernan guessed the right way to deny Freeman after 42 minutes.
As conditions worsened the standard of football dropped considerably with scores becoming scarce for both sides. Niall McGovern hit a long range free for Leitrim before Aidan Butler, and second half substitutes Jason Gibbons and Adam Gallagher registered points for Mayo.
Darren Carberry replied for Leitrim before Mayo kicked on with Gallagher registering his second score before Peter Naughton made an instant impact with a delightful dummy off the left before pointing with the right to level matters.
Mayo then pushed themselves into a commanding lead with points from Ballina’s Ciaran Treacy (2, one free) and Claremorris’ James McCormack and the game looked over as a contest.
But Leitrim had one last chance, and with a long ball into the square, Gallagher rose highest to punch the ball into the Mayo net.
Another experimental Mayo XV is expected to go into battle on Friday evening against Galway at MacHale Park, Castlebar. That refixed game starts at 7.30pm.
P O’Malley; M Park, G McDonagh, A Butler (0-1); J Stretton, S Nally, J McCormack (0-1); B Moran, J Flynn; F McDonagh (0-1), N Douglas (0-1), N Moran; R Egan (0-1), A Freeman (0-2, fs), C Treacy (0-3, 1f).
Subs used: J Gibbons (0-1) for B Moran (35 mins); A Gallagher (0-1) for N Moran (53 mins); O McLaughlin for Egan (55 mins); P Naughton (0-1) for Freeman (57 mins); M Ruane for Flynn (60 mins); K McLoughlin for Nally (63 mins).
D McKiernan; L Ryan, M McWeeney, M Murphy; J O’Brien, K Keegan (0-1), S Quinn; D Wrynn, C Moreton; C Gaffney, E Ward (0-1), J Rooney; A Flynn (0-1), D Rooney, B Gallagher (1-4, 3f).
Subs used: D Moran (0-1) for Moreton (25 mins); N McGovern (0-1, f) for Wrynn (35 mins); J Mitchell for Ryan (44 mins); N Plunkett for O’Brien (45 mins); D Carberry (0-1) for Gaffney (54 mins); C Gallagher for Ward (66 mins).
Referee: S Hehir (Galway)
FOOTBALL FBD INSURANCE LEAGUE