Mayo 5-20 Leitrim 0-11
Inevitably the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak in the Mayo camp overshadowed Mayo’s 24 point victory over Leitrim which secured a meeting for James Horan’s men with Galway in the Connacht final for the second successive year.
However, it was clear from the answers from questions fired at Horan after this game that he is more than concerned about how the outbreak - believed to involve at least nine players - is going to impact on their preparations for the game against Galway.
“We will be missing a number of players coming up to the Galway game. There will be some in and out, but look, we will have to manage as we always do,” he said.
The Mayo manager said it had been a chaotic 48 hours since the outbreak but he said it was a matter for the medics on the management side to explain how many players were directly affected and how many were close contacts.
“It was very challenging for the players but they were amazing. Some of the stuff we had to do was incredible with the different regimes we had to go through but you saw the focus out there today by the players. They were amazing,” he said.
While Horan said he was concerned that Covid-19 has to be a concern in relation to preparing for the Galway game he felt there were enough leaders on the team at the moment to get them through, particularly the experienced hands such as Aidan O’Shea and Paddy Durcan, while he expects Lee Keegan to be recovered from his shoulder injury, while Diarmuid O’Connor was listed among the substitutes.
When he did get a chance to talk about football he was happy with another big scoreline but accepted it wasn’t the test they would have preferred coming into a Connacht final
“We are trying to get things right in terms of taking our shots and we did have a lot of possession in the game so a high score was understandable.”
It was a special treat for the large Mayo following of 3,000 plus who braved some early showers but were rewarded with sunshine towards the end as Mayo fired in five goals. Leitrim were unable to cope with the blistering pace of a Mayo team who were clearly fired-up and it was reflected in the high intensity they brought to the table.
Mayo ran amok at times, their superior fitness turned this encounter into something of a nightmare for a young Leitrim side who could never get to grips with Mayo’s pace and power. The game was well and truly over by half-time with Mayo leading by 3-11 to 0-4.
Mayo had eased into an eight point lead inside 17 minutes, Tommy Conroy, helping himself to three of those, Matthew Ruane nailing two, while Ryan O'Donoghue and Stephen Coen also found the target. Leitrim's first score was courtesy of a Keith Beirne free which came just before the first water break.
However the floodgates opened before half-time as Darren Coen, one of two changes from the team named during the week, hit the net. Soon after Darren McHale fired home their second goal and just before the half-time whistle McHale helped himself to his second goal thanks to some excellent work by Conroy.
Within less than eight minutes of the restart Mayo had bagged two more goals courtesy of man of the match Ryan O’Donoghue and Conroy.
Leitrim have to be given some credit for responding with four unanswered points of their won - Beirne with three frees and substitute Riordan O’Rourke also hitting the target - but Mayo could so easily have added a few more goals to their collection.
Their ability to breaking at pace from the back where Padraig O’Hora put in a powerful performance at full-back, was impressive. But it was the clinical finishing of O’Donoghue, McHale, Darren Coen and Loftus which was far too much for Leitrim to handle.
Mayo: R Byrne, E Hession, P O'Hora, M Plunkett; P Durcan, O Mullin, D Coen (0-1), Matthew Ruane (0-2), A O Shea (0-1). J Flynn, D McHale (2-2), C Loftus (0-2); T Conroy (1-3), D Coen (1-3), R O'Donoghue (1-5, two frees). Subs: J Carr (0-1) for Conroy (45 mins); C Boyle for Durcan (52 mins); F McDonagh for Ruane (58 mins); A Orme for D Coen (61 mins); J McCormack for Flynn (61 minutes); J Coyne for Mullin (65 minutes).
Leitrim: B Flynn, C Reynolds, D Wrynn, M Diffley, C McGloin, P Maguire (0-1), D Bruen; J Gilheany, M Plunkett, C Dolan (0-2), S Moran, T Prior; D Rooney, K Beirne (0-5, four frees), S Quinn.
Subs: E Sweeney (0-1) for Rooney (half-time), R Ó Rourke (0-2) for McGloin (half-time), K Keegan for Diffley (47 minutes), A Hoare for Wrynn (51 minutes).
Referee: F Kelly (Longford).