WATCHING ON Mayo Junior manager Jarlath Trench (second from right) is pictured with his selectors Peadar Flynn, Martin Trench and Cormac Gordon (extreme right). Their team will now take on Galway in the Connacht Final. Pic: Michael Donnelly
AFTER the drama, excitement and sheer madness of Mayo’s quarter-final win over Roscommon last week came this extremely straightforward semi-final victory last night (Thursday).
Leitrim were no match for a highly-motivated Mayo as ten different players got on the scoresheet, and Jarlath Trench’s squad showed an energy and a confidence that suggests they are enjoying this experience.
Goalkeeper Matthew Flanagan, centre-back David Lydon, midfielders Brendan Carr and Seán Walsh, and forwards Liam Moran, TJ Byrne, Darragh Keavney and James Dowd all caught the eye.
Parke’s Ronan Carolan also produced a man of the match performance on an evening when the defending Connacht champions Leitrim never got out of first gear.
In truth, this game was over as a contest by half-time as Mayo led by seven points at that stage (0-10 to 0-3) despite racking up ten first half wides, and Leitrim were chasing shadows all over the field.
The second half was really just a matter of Mayo managing the situation, staying out of trouble, running their bench, and conserving as much energy as possible ahead of a Connacht Final against Galway on Sunday.
Playing with the aid of a strong breeze, Mayo were sitting comfortably on a 0-10 to 0-3 lead at the change of ends.
Ironically, Leitrim had opened the scoring via a free from former county goalkeeper, Cathal McCrann, in the sixth minute. But that was as good as it got for the homeside.
Mayo promptly rattled off six points without reply down at the other end as TJ Byrne, Ciaran Boylan (whose father, Seán, again travelled to see him in action), Ronan Carolan, Brendan Carr, Seán Walsh and Darragh Keavney all hit the target by the 16th minute.
It was easy to see that Leitrim were struggling, but Robbie Cunningham was unlucky to see his goalbound shot crack off the post with Matthew Flanagan beaten.
Mayo weren’t long in turning the screw after that let-off though as Carr (free), Moran, Carolan and Keavney all tagged on points impressively before the half-time whistle.
An illustration of their dominance is shown by the fact that they also shot ten wides in that opening period as they penned Leitrim back in, and attacked from all angles.
Three quickfire points after the restart pushed the advantage out to double-figures, and Mayo looked like they could run up a cricket-score.
But, perhaps understandably in light of another match a few days later, they started to ease off the throttle and Leitrim rallied to rattle off five unanswered points in seven minutes to stir the small crowd a little.
Former county senior Nevin O’Donnell landed three of those scores (two from frees) to shave the gap back to five points swinging into the last ten minutes.
Mayo never looked like wobbling though as some subs arrived to freshen things up and Louisburgh’s James Dowd clipped a couple of sweet points to seal the deal before the industrious Cian Burke applied the signature score.
Mayo now take on Galway in the Connacht Junior Final on Sunday at MacHale Park, Castlebar at 1.30pm.
M Flanagan; E McGrath, J O’Dowd, E Doran; C Boylan (0-1), D Lydon, C Burke (0-1); B Carr (0-3, 1f), S Walsh (0-1); C Bohan, R Carolan (0-4, 1f), L Moran (0-1); C Doohan (0-1), TJ Byrne (0-1), D Keavney (0-2).
Subs used: T Fahey for Bohan; J Kelly for Moran; K Hopkins for Doohan; B Leonard for Doran; J Dowd (0-2, 1f) for Keavney; D McGowan for Carr.
G Hickey; A Armstrong, J Mitchell, J Cassidy; C Reynolds (0-1), D Feely, F Flynn; C Moreton, C McCrann (0-1, 1f); N McWeeney, K Cox, J Reynolds; R Cunningham (0-1), C Dolan (0-1, 1f), C McCauley.
Subs used: N O’Donnell (0-4, 2fs) for Feely; A Hoare for Reynolds; S Harkin for Mitchell; S McMorrow for Cox; E Harkin for Cassidy; S Sweeney for Flynn.
Referee: J Gilmartin (Sligo)