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Mayo march on to meet Rossies

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ON FORM Cillian O'Connor of Mayo on his way to scoring his side's second goal during the Connacht GAA Football Senior Championship Quarter-Final match between Leitrim and Mayo at Avantcard Páirc Sean Mac Diarmada in Carrick-on-Shannon, Leitrim. Pic Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Connacht Senior Football Championship Quarter-Final

Mayo 2-15
Leitrim 0-10

Ger Flanagan

MAYO’S hopes of winning a first Connacht senior championship title since 2015 remain intact after their comprehensive 11-points victory over Leitrim at a wet and windy Pairc Seán MacDiarmada in Carrick-on-Shannon this afternoon.
A goal in each half from Tommy Conroy and man of the match Cillian O’Connor proved crucial in the end, as Mayo were forced to weather some stubborn Leitrim resistance before they eventually pulled away in the last quarter.
O’Connor finished with 1-9 (including six frees) and showed all his quality and class despite the atrocious conditions.
Mayo went into the game as 1/100 favourites and had been expected to romp to victory by at least 13 points, according to the bookmakers.
But while this first meeting of the sides in the championship since the summer of 2012 went along expected lines in the end, Leitrim came flying out of the blocks with the wind and rain behind them.
They were 0-4 to no score ahead in the early stages with points from Shane Quinn, Evan Sweeney and Domhnaill Flynn as the underdogs took the the game to the visitors.
Lining out with six championship debutants, Mayo took a while to settle as they tried to put the disappointment of last weekend’s league relegation behind them.
Bryan Walsh finally opened their account on 11 minutes and another of the championship debutants, Tommy Conroy, struck for his first goal at this level on 22 minutes to edge Mayo ahead for the first time.
By half-time James Horan’s charges were in front by 1-6 to 0-6 as both sides struggled to get to grips with the heavy surface and testing weather conditions.
Leitrim, who haven’t beaten Mayo in the championship since the infamous 1994 provincial final, would have been relatively happy with the state of play at that stage.
However, their aims of springing a huge shock received a big setback during the third quarter when Mayo struck for 1-2 without reply to open up some daylight.
The outstanding Cillian O’Connor hit the Leitrim net in the 47th minute and also tagged on a point with Matthew Ruane also on target.
Conor Dolan did kick a score at the other end but the tide had now turned against Leitrim.
Terry Hyland’s men were relegated to Division 4 of the National League last weekend after losing at home to Tipperary, and despite their best efforts they struggled to cope with Mayo’s pace and power-running during the last quarter.
The home side only raised one white flag in the last 25 minutes as they faded out of contention, a free from Keith Beirne in the 66th minute, and exited the championship.
Mayo’s provincial semi-final clash against the reigning Connacht champions Roscommon next Sunday will throw-in at Dr Hyde Park at 1.30pm.

Mayo
D Clarke; O Mullin, S Coen, L Keegan; P Durcan, M Plunkett, E McLaughlin; M Ruane (0-1), C Loftus (0-1); B Walsh (0-1), R O’Donoghue, J Flynn; T Conroy (1-0), A O’Shea (0-2), C O’Connor (1-9, 4fs, 2 45s).
Subs used: D O'Connor, J Carr (0-1), C Barrett, R Brickenden, D McHale.

Leitrim
B Flynn; D Casey (0-1), D Wrynn, C Reynolds; O MacCaffraigh, A Flynn, C McGloin; M Plunkett, D Flynn (0-1); C Dolan (0-1), P Maguire, J Gilheany; S Quinn (0-1), E Sweeney (0-1), K Beirne (0-5, 5fs).
Subs used: K Keegan, R O’Rourke, P Dolan, T Prior.

Referee: P Faloon (Down)

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