Rampant Mayo expose gulf in class

 

Mayo 4-20 Leitrim 0-10:THE GULF in class between Division One and Division Four football was cruelly exposed at Elvery’s McHale Park, Castlebar, yesterday where defending champions Mayo trampled on Leitrim en route to a Connacht final meeting with Sligo before a crowd of 14,000 in ideal conditions.

The unfortunate aspect from a Leitrim perspective is that this 22-point hammering was not in the least bit flattering to Mayo as James Horan’s team cut loose in the second half on a day when the home team could empty their bench and win pulling up.

From a Mayo point of view it doesn’t help the holders ahead of their meeting with Sligo.

While they were tested somewhat in the first half, the second half saw Mayo take total control of the contest with 20 minutes still remaining and 14 Mayo players got on the scoresheet.

The game, in fairness to Leitrim, was a contest for the first 20 minutes as Mayo shaded matters 0-6 to 0-5 but from when Alan Freeman hit the roof of the net with the first of Mayo’s four goals, the seeds of doubt appeared to be sown in Leitrim’s play.

Up to then they had posed a few questions from the Mayo defence with Emelyn Mulligan in particular proving a handful for Donal Vaughan. But Mayo’s experience was always going to be a telling factor as they hit back on each occasion as the sides were level three times in the opening 10 minutes, Danny Geraghty and Alan Dillon easing Mayo into an early lead but Darren Sweeney and a terrific point from corner back, Daniel Beck, tying matters.

The point of that first half came from Mayo’s Keith Higgins who made a blistering 40-yard run before finding the target while wing-back Lee Keegan also nailed a good score as Mayo went two clear again and appeared to be getting on top and bringing some cohesion to their play.

It was only a one-point game when Mayo finally found a gaping hole in that Leitrim defence to shoot into a four-point lead and by half-time the lead was extended to eight points – 2-9 to 0-7 – a terrific burst from Donal Vaughan setting up Andy Moran for Mayo’s second goal.

That opening quarter made a mockery of the 1 to 80 odds being quoted by some bookies on this game but you could hardly quibble with those odds as the Leitrim resistance collapsed in the second half. Barry Moran rose to the occasion for Mayo in the middle of the park and the lead had extended to 12 points before Andy Moran drilled home Mayo’s third goal after being found in acres of space by substitute Michael Conroy.

Ronan McGarrity announced his return to the Mayo team with a fine point from play.

Substitutes Conor Mortimer, Enda Varley and Conroy all found the target, before Kevin McLoughlin nailed Mayo’s fourth goal just before Leitrim full-back Fabian McMorrow was dispatched on a second yellow card to end a miserable afternoon for the visitors whose failure to beat Mayo at Castlebar has now been extended by another year.

MAYO: D Clarke; K Keane, G Cafferkey, K Higgins (0-1); L Keegan (0-1), D Vaughan, C Boyle; B Moran (0-1), D Geraghty (0-1); K McLoughlin (1-2), C O’Connor (0-6, frees), A Dillon (0-3); A Freeman (1-0), A Moran (2-0), J Doherty. Subs: R Feeney for Boyle (45 min), R McGarrity (0-1) for Geraghty (50 mins), M Conroy (0-1) for Doherty (53 mins), C Mortimer (0-2, one free) for Freeman (53 mins), E Varley (0-1) for a Moran (65 mins).

LEITRIM: C McCrann; D Beck (0-1), F McMorrow, P Maguire; C Clarke, E Williams, W McKeon; D Sweeney, S Moran; P Brennan, E Mulligan (0-7, six frees), P McGowan; R Cox (0-1), J Glancy, A Croal. (0-1). Subs: R Lowe for McKeon (7 mins), B McDonald for Croal (53 mins), G Hickey for McGowan (56 mins), K Conlon for Lowe (54 mins).

Referee: M Higgins (Fermanagh).

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