RECORD BREAKER Cillian O’Connor scores his first goal this evening on his way to scoring 3-9 as Mayo overcame Limerick. O’Connor became Mayo’s all-time top scorer tonight.
Mayo lived up to their billing as 1/50 favourites against Limerick with an emphatic 18 point win.
It was Mayo’s most comfortable win ever in the Qualifiers but the paucity of the opposition has to be factored in.
Limerick have only won one game all year (a league win over Waterford) and despite scoring the game’s first score with a goal from a penalty, that never looked like changing.
Cillian O’Connor had Mayo level with three points from play and the second of those, after eight minutes, saw him break Conor Mortimer’s all-time Mayo scoring record.
The Mayo captain ended up with a whopping 3-9, an impressive 3-3 from play and reinforced his importance to Mayo.
When he is moving and scoring freely, Mayo are an altogether more dangerous outfit.
By half-time, Mayo had pulled clear, 1-10 to 1-1. They were comfortable while being far from brilliant. The goal came from O’Connor who linked exquisitely with Evan Regan before finishing to the net from close range.
Limerick did get the gap back to seven points with a goal from lively substitute Seamus O’Carroll in the 52nd minute.
That appeared to poke the bear and Mayo responded relentlessly with three goals in four minutes.
O’Connor got the first two to complete his hat-trick before sub’ Andy Moran got in on the act.
The Footballer of the Year was central to Mayo’s attacking thrusts in the final quarter and he grabbed Mayo’s last goal on 70 minutes.
The game finished how it started, with Limerick scoring a penalty. Conceding 3-7 did not please Stephen Rochford but Mayo did enough and then some at the other end. Tougher tests certainly lie ahead.
D Clarke; E O’Donoghue, G Cafferkey, C Barrett (0-1); C Boyle (0-1), K Higgins, P Durcan (0-2); S O’Shea, S Coen (0-1); K McLoughlin, A O’Shea (0-2), C Hanley (0-1); E Regan (0-1), C O’Connor (3-9, 0-5fs, 0-1 ‘45), J Durcan (0-1).
Subs: L Keegan for Boyle (46mins); J Doherty for McLoughlin (48mins); C Loftus for S O’Shea (52mins); A Moran (2-0) for Higgins (54mins); C Crowe for Hanley (inj 60mins); S Nally for O’Donoghue (63mins).
D O’Sullivan; S O’Dea, G Noonan, P Maher; P White, I Corbett (0-2), C Fahy; D Treacy, M Fitzgibbon; D Neville (0-1), S McSweeney (1-0, pen), P Nash; J Lee (0-1), J Ryan (0-2, fs), J Liston.
Subs: S O’Carroll (2-1, 1-0pen, 1f) for McSweeney (h/t); T McCarthy for Liston (48mins); P Scanlon for Lee (53mins); G Browne for Fitzgibbon (57mins); D Lyons for Neville (inj. 61mins); D Connolly for Nash (66mins).
Referee: Niall Cullen (Fermanagh).