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Under 21 footballers shaping up nicely


ON THE RUN Mayo’s Ronan Carolan takes on the Sligo defence during Saturday’s North West Cup match in Crossmolina. Pic: Michael Donnelly

Mayo 3-12
Sligo 0-4

Austin Garvin

ANY day a team records a seventeen-point winning margin is surely a successful one. And so it was for the Mayo Under 21 team who defeated a rather weak Sligo side in the second round of the North West Cup at St Tiernan’s Park, Crossmolina on Saturday last.
The game was originally fixed for James Stephen’s Park, was then transferred to Knockmore, and finished up in Crossmolina at short notice.
The Deel Rovers club must be complimented for presenting their fine ground in such good condition despite the inclement weather of the past number of weeks.
Mayo started the game with thirteen of the team that defeated Fermanagh in Beleek last week; Ryan Lynch manned one of the midfield positions, with Ronan Carolan getting a start at right-corner forward.
Mike Solan’s side also showed several positional changes from their opening outing. During the course of the game several others got a run out; obviously this is in keeping with management’s policy of giving their panel game time before the championship.
For one reason or another, the likes of Stephen Coen, Diarmuid O’Connor, David Kenny, Conor Loftus, and Michael Hall were unavailable for selection.
From beginning to end, Mayo bossed this game against a rather disappointing Yeats County side.
Paul Taylor’s team enjoyed quite a lot of possession during the course of the hour, but it was patently obvious from the outset that they lacked the cut and thrust necessary to eke out the scores required to win the game.
That they didn’t is due in no small measure to some fine defending by the Mayo defence. Seamus Cunniffe was particularly good at full-back. The Ballagh man’s reading of the game was exemplary throughout.
He was helped in this respect because of Sligo’s decision to play just two in the inside line. Cunniffe’s team-mate, Sharoise Akram, was very effective at left-half back, and showed his penchant for attack in scoring two points.
Val Roughneen, who was one of the midfielders on the 2013 All-Ireland winning side, was also industrious throughout.
Fergal Boland carried his form with Aghamore into this game, and worked hard all through. Michael Plunkett and Matthew Ruane were highly effective too.
Mayo was at their best when they kicked the ball direct to the full-forward line, where Brian Reape and Fionán Duffy posed a threat when the outfield players elected to make the ball do the work.
Overall, the obvious blemish in Mayo’s play was their propensity to play the ball cross-field far too often instead of being more direct. They rectified this to some degree in the second half and, as a consequence, the scores came far more readily.
It would be unfair to be over critical of the winners as there was so much to admire about their play.
Mayo had a great start with Sharoise Akram, Fionán Duffy and Matthew Flanagan (’45) kicking points early on. Darragh Kilcoyne (free) and John Francis Carr quickly replied for the visitor.
From there to the break Mayo dominated the game, with Fionán Duffy converting a penalty midway through the half, after a great move between Sharoise Akram and Brian Reape.
Mayo led at half time by 1-7 to 0-4 courtesy of two pointed frees from Fionán Duffy and another from Brian Reape.
The second half saw Mayo totally dominate the play despite replacing over half their starting fifteen. They held the Yeats County scoreless and added 2-5 to their tally.
Liam Irwin toe-poked a goal minutes after coming on as a sub, and he also landed a pointed free from the right side of the field.
Brian Reape finished Mayo’s third goal after he reacted quickly to a Fergal Boland effort that came off the bar.
Michael Plunkett and Colm Reape brought the curtain down on the scoring with two frees at the death.
Mayo play Donegal next week and, no doubt, will receive a more searching test.

M Flanagan (’45); E Doran, S Cunniffe, K Harrison; J Forkan, J Kelly, S Akram (0-2); R Lynch, V Roughneen; F Boland (0-1), M Plunkett (0-1), M Ruane; R Carolan, B Reape (1-1), F Duffy (1-4,1-0pen, 1f).
Subs used: S Kilker for M Flanagan; L Irwin (1-1) for F Duffy; C Reape (0-1) for B Reape; J Lyons for M Ruane; J Carr for F Boland; B Duffy for J Forkan; M Murray for V Roughneen; C Barrett for M Plunkett; M Lyons for R Carolan.

D Cafferkey; J McGarry, A Clerkin, L Henry; JF Carr (0-2), S Keenan, P McNamara; K Henry, G O’Kelly-Lynch; K Gavigan (0-1), J Gillen, D Cummins; S Curley, C Henry, D Kilcoyne (0-1, 1f).
Subs used: P Kilcoyne for K Henry; F Cawley for D Kilcoyne; M Clarke for J Gillen; J Perry for K Gavigan; S Connolly for D Cummins; C Gilmartin for A Clerkin; B Morahan for S Curley.

Referee: A Ferguson (Fermanagh)


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