FIGHTING SPIRIT Mayo’s Matthew Macken (6) and Colm Moran (13) move in to try and help a team-mate on the ground after a brawl broke out in Monday’s All Ireland Minor FC quarter-final at O’Connor Park, Tullamore. Pic: Adrian Melia
WHETHER or not it will soften the blow in defeat is hard to gauge.
But the Mayo minors can at least be assured that they rattled and tested the Leinster champions for long periods yesterday (Monday) afternoon in O’Connor Park Tullamore. True, Kildare were home and hosed in the final stages, but up until the 55th minute, this contest was in the melting pot and the heavily-favoured Lilywhites were on shaky ground.
Enda Gilvarry’s side led by one at half-time, 2-2 to 1-4, after playing with the wind.
The first half was full of errors and was bookended by a melee that saw black and yellow cards dished out on both sides.
That Mayo were ahead at the midpoint was hard to fathom.
They had gone from the eighth to the 27th minute without registering a score despite having the elements in their favour. Kildare, for their part, had tagged on four points, but goals at either end of the half had the westerners in front and believing.
Early in the second half, Mayo were two clear after a brace of points from Westport’s Colm Moran and Claremorris teenager Stephen McGreal. The Mayo support might have heavily been outnumbered in the estimated 2,600-strong crowd, but they were in full voice after that score with 24 minutes of football to go.
Their team had a real shot at victory.
What followed was a six minute spell of blistering football from Kildare that saw them kick five points without reply and turn this game on its head.
The Leinster champions just had more scoring options; Jack Robinson was the primary source with 1-4 during the game but during that spell, Kevin Foley, Tony Archbold and Aaron Masterson all chipped in with well-taken points from long range.
It was the winning of the contest.
Mayo had kicked three early wides in the opening minutes of the game, but were then knocked back on their heels with a sucker punch when Jack Robinson went up the field and drive home a fine goal.
Justin Healy scored a neat point to settle things soon after, and then Belmullet’s Ryan O’Donoghue nabbed a brilliant goal after beating his man and finishing with a bullet from close range.
That came after eight minutes. Mayo’s next score didn’t arrive until late in the half when the industrious and talented Paul Lambert went on a surging run before finishing from close range after neat build up play for goal number two.
His Westport club-made Colm Moran then kicked a point from play for the half time lead.
The game had a sub-plot of niggle.
Mayo ended up with three defenders black-carded, which had a huge effective on their backline late on. John Maughan was first to go, for hauling Robinson down after ten minutes. Joe Mason also saw black for an incident that saw a large cluster of players coming together for some pushing and shoving after a foul.
Kildare free-taker Jack Hyland was also black-carded at that point, while John Cunnane saw black four minutes into the second half, meaning more rearranging had to be done.
Kildare dealt with the disruption well, though. Ciaran Kelly took over the free-taking and didn’t let his side down. While their run of scores around the 40-minute mark steadied the ship, the game-winning score came after 55 minutes.
The hugely impressive Brian McLoughlin scored the easterners’ second goal after an unfortunate collision in the Mayo defence. That sealed the win for a more fluent and athletic Kildare side, but they were made to work for it.
Mayo’s summer is over after two defeats in their three championship games.
L Mullins; J O’Toole, M Dempsey, D Shaw; T Archbold (0-1), J Gibbons, S Doran; D Marnell, A Masterson (0-1); J Robinson (1-4), T Connolly, K Foley (0-1); C Kelly (0-5, 4f), B McLoughlin (1-0), J Hyland (0-2, 2f).
Subs used: D O’Sullivan for Doran (22 mins); P Woodgate for Hyland (30 + 5 mins, black card); D O’Sullivan for S Doran (50 mins); D Kelly for Foley (56 mins); J Burke for McLoughlin (61 mins).
A Byrne; S Kenny, D Cosgrove (0-1), J Cunnane; B O’Malley, M Macken, J Maughan; C Murphy, N Moran; P Lambert (1-0), C Stenson, O McLaughlin; C Moran (0-4), J Healy (0-1), R O’Donoghue (1-0).
Subs: J Mason for Maughan (10 mins, black card); S McGreal (0-1) for Mason (30 + 5 mins, black card); L Kelly for Cunnane (34 mins, black card); C Diskin (0-1, 45’) for Murphy (47 mins); R Egan for McLaughlin (52 mins); N McGhee for Healy (59 mins).
Referee: N Cullen (Fermanagh)