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Minors do just enough to win

Sport
Minors do enough


Semi-Final
Mayo  1-6
Sligo 0-6

Austin Garvin
Castlebar


THIS was certainly a case of the end justifying the means. As minor games go, the meeting of Mayo and Sligo at McHale Park, Castlebar on Sunday was a huge disappointment.
The game promised much but delivered little in the way of good football.
Mayo won this game simply because they just did enough in the opening half to sustain them for the second period. They also possessed enough talented individuals throughout the team to give them the edge over a hugely disappointing Yeats County side.
Given the recent fine form of Summerhill College and St Attracta’s, many shrewd judges were of the opinion that Sligo would prove a huge threat to Tony Duffy’s side.
By and large, that opinion was unfounded, as Mayo comfortably controlled the opening period of play in particular. However, much of their good work was spoiled by suspect option-taking and a lack of real cohesion and teamwork in attack. And yet, they looked quite impressive in the opening quarter as they bossed the game.
Adam Gallagher, in particular, roamed the field in search of work, and ensured a constant supply to an attacking sector that by and large played as individuals.
Points were scarce early on, with Mayo’s monopoly on possession not reflected on the scoreboard. The sides were level in the opening minutes, with Seán Regan opening Mayo’s account and Cathal Henry replying for Tommy Brehony’s side.
Mayo then totally controlled the play and should have scored two goals when Kevin Kelly in the Sligo goal twice denied Shane Hennelly with superb saves.
Two frees from Eoghan Lavin and Adam Gallagher edged Mayo ahead, and they widened the gap when Gallagher expertly converted a penalty after Shane Hennelly was adjudged to be fouled.
An Eoghan Lavin free saw Mayo lead at the break by 1-4 to 0-1. The lead would have been greater only for Kevin Kelly’s great save from a Hennelly goal attempt.
But Mayo never exerted the same control of the game after half time. Sligo began to pick up most of the breaking ball at midfield, but they never really looked like getting through for a goal that would surely have seen them go on to win the game. However, they started the second period well with points from Colm Egan and Criostóir Davey (free). Davey was excellent during the ensuing passages of play, as he prevented Cian Burke from making his runs into enemy territory.
Michael Plunkett scored an inspirational point after a great run forward, and within minutes Adam Gallagher added another from a free.
However, Mayo would go 19 minutes without raising another flag, and this – together with the fact that the attack only scored two points from play – is surely a worry for Tony Duffy and his management team.
Mayo’s play became rather ragged and disjointed, and in the main they relied on some fine individual play from such as Kevin Lynch (a dead ringer for Keith Higgins), Patrick Durcan, Michael Plunkett, Adam Gallagher, and Diarmuid O’Connor to see them safely home.
Sligo scored three further points from Cristóir Davey (two, including one free), and Kevin Henry. In between, Cian Brehony almost scored a goal for the losers.
Overall, Mayo will have to improve dramatically if they hope to defeat Roscommon or Galway in the Connacht final. Certainly they have some good individual footballers on board. Blending them into a team is the trick for the management team. Having said that, minor players can improve in spades from one game to another. Let’s hope this one does too.

Mayo
C O’Malley; D McHale, S Moran, K Lynch; P Durcan, C Burke, M Plunkett (0-1); B Mullen, A Gallagher (1-2, 1-0 pen, 0-2f); E Lavin (0-2, 1f), S Coen, D O’Connor; D Duffy, S Hennelly, S Regan (0-1).
Subs used: C Byrne for D Duffy; J Quinn for E Lavin.

Sligo

K Kelly; M Gordon, B Walsh, S Barrett; C Surlis, K McDonnell, D Long; N O’Rourke, C Egan (0-1); C Brehony, C Davey (0-3, 2f), K Henry (0-1); C Kerins, C Henry (0-1), S Cawley.
Subs used: J O’Hehir for C Kerins; J Quinn for S Cawley; B Smith for C Henry.

Referee: P Neilan (Roscommon)