Senior football challenge
THE MAYO senior football squad continued their preparations ahead of the upcoming Connacht championship with a facile nine point victory over a very disappointing Cavan in Saturday evening’s challenge game at Belmullet GAA club’s impressive, windswept, new €1.8m development.
John O’Mahony used the game to run the rule over 27 of his 30-man championship panel but will have learnt very little from a one-sided game which resembled a mediocre FBD League encounter.
Keith Higgins (rested after lining out the county hurlers earlier in the day), Trevor Mortimer (carrying a slight knock) and Alan Feeney (ankle injury) were the only Mayo players not to feature at some stage.
Tommy Carr’s Cavan really failed to turn up and managed to score just one point from play in the entire 70 minutes. How they could have done with the injured Seanie Johnston, who was conspicuous by his absence, but on this evidence they have a lot of work to do before facing Fermanagh in the Ulster championship in four weeks time.
Mayo did what they had to do. Starting with ten of the side that started the National League Final against Cork, John O’Mahony used this match to give Peadar Gardiner and Tom Cunniffe run-outs for 35 minutes at numbers 5 and 6 respectively, and also took a look at Pat Harte and Billy Padden in the half-forward line.
Padden, playing on home soil, played the full 70 minutes, as did his club-mate Chris Barrett and Ger Cafferkey.
Despite playing against the crossfield wind in the first half, Mayo led at half-time by 0-6 to 0-2 as Conor Mortimer scored three frees, the very effective Enda Varley kicked two points from play, and Aidan O’Shea added another.
It took Cavan 33 minutes to register their first score, a free from Cian Mackey, and things didn’t improve much for them in the second half.
Mayo built on their advantage through points from subs Andy Moran, Mark Ronaldson and Barry Moran, who again looked a real threat at full-forward after coming on to replace Aidan O’Shea.
Cavan never looked like making a game of it and Mayo indulged in some shooting practice late on as Aidan Kilcoyne fired over a free and Neil Douglas grabbed two points from play.
Kilcoyne also saw Mayo’s only clear-cut goal chance well saved by Cavan goalkeeper Fintan Reilly as the game petered out. The winners also clocked up twelve wides as things got a little ragged in the closing stages.
Mayo’s next challenge match comes against Dublin next Friday evening in Hollymount, and hopefully it will be a much better work-out ahead of that date with Sligo in three weeks time (June 5).
D Clarke; C Barrett, G Cafferkey, T Howley; P Gardiner, T Cunniffe, K McLoughlin; T Parsons, S O’Shea; P Harte, BJ Padden, A Dillon; E Varley (0-2), A O’Shea (0-1), C Mortimer (0-3, 3fs).
Subs used: L O’Malley for Gardiner (ht); A Moran (0-2) for Dillon (ht); R McGarrity for Harte (ht); A Freeman for Mortimer (ht); M Ronaldson (0-1) for Varley (45 mins); B Moran (0-1) for A O’Shea (45 mins); D Vaughan for Cunniffe (45 mins); A Kilcoyne (0-1, 1f) for O’Shea (45 mins); K Conroy for McLoughlin (48 mins); N Douglas (0-2) for Freeman (48 mins, inj); S Nally for Howley (55 mins); K O’Malley for Clarke (55 mins); K McLoughlin for O’Malley (inj).
F Reilly; D Sheridan, T Corr, M Cahill; P Brady, E McGuigan, J McCutcheon; C Galligan, R Cullivan; D O’Dowd, G Smith, M McKeever; C Mackey (0-3, 2fs), D McKiernan, P Brady.
Subs used: A Clarke for O’Dowd; R Galligan (0-1, 1f) for P Brady; M Johnston for McCutcheon; N Walsh for Cullivan; M Brides for P Brady; M Hannon for McKeever; E Smith for Corr.
Referee: D Hunt (Roscommon)