Connacht SFC: Sligo too hot for Mayo

June 05, 2010

Sligo's Alan Costello has his shot blocked by Mark Ronaldson of Mayo during the Connacht SFC quarter-final at Markievicz Park - INPHO
Sligo produced a stunning second-half display to beat Mayo by 0-15 to 1-8 at Markievicz Park.

The Division Three winners outscored the defending provincial champions by ten points to four after the break to pull off a fully-merited victory, with the likes of Charlie Harrison, David Kelly, Johnny Davey and Eamonn O'Hara - named at wing forward but deployed as a sweeper - all excelling.

The Yeats County progress to a Connacht semi-final meeting with Galway, while Mayo go into the Qualifiers where - on the evidence of this performance - they'll need a soft draw to get their season back up and running. This was a dismal effort from John O'Mahony's men.

Mayo led by 1-4 to 0-5 at the end of a very poor first half, with all their scores coming from Alan Freeman (1-1) and Conor Mortimer (0-3), while Sligo mustered just two scores from play in the first half. It was uninspiring stuff before the short whistle, with neither side catching the eye.

The match started after a minute's silence was respectfully observed for the late Adrian Freeman, a member of the Mayo senior hurling team and debutant Alan Freeman got the visitors up and running straight away with an excellently-taken point after just 24 seconds.

John O'Mahony had made a late change to his starting side with the experienced Peadar Gardiner brought in for Chris Barrett. Sligo hit a couple of wides into the cemetery end before Aghamore's Freeman added a goal to Mayo's tally from the penalty spot in the seventh minute. Freeman had also won the penalty and, with his confidence high, sent a shot wide via a post off his left peg.

Freeman was giving Noel McGuire a torrid time and he was again the architect as Conor Mortimer drilled a shot off target. Sligo finally opened their account from an eleventh-minute Colm McGee free after Eamonn O'Hara drew the foul from Ronan McGarrity.

Three minutes later, Conor Mortimer nonchalantly stretched the gap after Sligo had gifted Mayo possession. Mark Breheny and Enda Varley followed up with wides at either end and McGee curled over a second Sligo score, this time from open play. A Breheny free had the margin down to two points - 1-2 to 0-3 - by the 20th minute.

Alan Costello brought the hosts' wides tally up to six with 27 minutes gone but there was no such messing from wing back Johnny Davey as he clipped over a superb point - Sligo's third in succession - to make it a one-point game. Mayo hadn't scored in 17 minutes.

Just after the half-hour mark, 2006 All Star Conor Mortimer arced over an exquisite point to make it 1-3 to 0-4 and Mayo had a couple of bad wides before Breheny and Mortimer popped over late frees and an insipid first half ended with two points between the teams.

Varley almost got in for a goal in the third minute of the second half but Sligo captain Charlie Harrison made an excellent diving block to thwart him. Andy Moran and Kevin McLoughlin missed chances either side of that incident and Conor Mortimer miscued a free from the ground badly wide. In the 41st minute, Breheny got the first score of the second half from a free after Donal Vaughan fouled David Kelly.

McGee struck the leveller from a 42nd-minute free, awarded against Gardiner for an illegal handpass. With intensity levels rising at last, Freeman restored Mayo's lead with a free from the hands on 45 minutes. But within two minutes, a sublime Kelly point from play had the Yeats County back on terms: 0-8 to 1-5.

Mayo were unlucky when Conor Mortimer struck an upright and Harrison was on hand to mop up the danger. On the stroke of 48 minutes, Eastern Harps midfielder Tony Taylor whacked over an inspiration point from 45 metres to put the home county in front for the first time. All the momentum was now with Sligo…

When McGee curled another fabulous free between the posts, there were two points between them - 0-10 to 1-5 - and Mayo looked like a beaten team already, with a quarter of the match left to play. Targetman Freeman gave the holders hope when he kicked his third point at the end of a sweeping move instigated from the back by Keith Higgins.

Fourteen minutes from the end, midfielder Stephen Gilmartin got his name on the scoresheet and Alan Costello followed up with another minor as the Mayo defence completely disintegrated before him.

Trevor Mortimer came out second best when he caught Harrison with a bone-jarring challenge and the Mayo captain had to leave the fray. His brother Conor missed a chance before Andy Moran pulled back a point, Within seconds, Kelly showed his class by getting out in front of his man to fire over a morale-boosting Sligo score.

It was Game Over when Mayo cast-off Costello drilled a wonderful left-foot rocket over the bar: 0-14 to 1-7.

Freeman pulled back a free but Kelly sealed the win for Kevin Walsh's men with a super last-minute point. Mayo had emptied their bench but it made no difference as Sligo stood firm to record their seventh-ever championship win over the Green & Reds.

Sligo: P Greene; C Harrison, N McGuire, R Donovan; K Cawley, B Phillips, J Davey (0-1); T Taylor (0-1), S Gilmartin (0-1); M Breheny (0-3), A Costello (0-2), E O'Hara; C McGee (0-4), K Sweeney, D Kelly (0-3). Sub: S Coen.

Mayo: D Clarke; D Vaughan, G Cafferkey, K Higgins; P Gardiner, T Cunniffe, K McLoughlin; T Parsons, R McGarrity; A Moran (0-1), S O'Shea, T Mortimer; C Mortimer (0-3), A Freeman (1-4), E Varley. Subs: BJ Padden, A O'Shea, M Ronaldson, B Moran, K Conroy.

Most Read Stories