Mayo stage great escape

Back in the final: Micheal Forde and the Mayo juniors booked their place in the Connacht final on Wednesday night. Photo: Sportsfile.

Back in the final: Micheal Forde and the Mayo juniors booked their place in the Connacht final on Wednesday night. Photo: Sportsfile.

GAA: Connacht JFC semi-final

Mayo 2-8

Sligo 2-5

As the victorious U21 team showed last weekend and in the weeks before, Mayo do not tend to do things the easy way, and it was no different in Enniscrone on Wednesday evening when Sean McLoughlin's Mayo junior side had to come back at the death to win a game they had looked to have well wrapped up with 15 minutes to go.

Mayo led by five points early in the second half thanks to points from Ronan Malee and full forward Darren Coen putting them 1-7 to 1-2 clear and in control of the game. But despite playing with the aid of a very strong wind Mayo failed to put the hammer down as expected and racked up a number of wides over the next few minutes.

Sligo never really looked like reeling in Mayo all the same and they only registered their first score of the second half 11 minutes from the end when full forward David Quinn slotted the ball over the bar following some neat work by Cian Lally and Ryan McKenna. The score kicked some life into the home-side and they upped the stakes in the physical contests and got plenty of joy over the next few minutes. McKenna slipped over a nice point on 53 minutes, and the gap was back to three points, and when Quinn drove over a close range free there was just two between the sides and Sligo had the bit between their teeth. Bang on full time Sligo put together their best move of the game which saw Quinn and Vincent Frizzell involved in setting up Michael Gordon, and the Sligo sub got enough room to let off a shot that flew past Shane Nallen in the Mayo goal and looked to set up a Sligo victory, which in all fairness their play in the final quater of the game probably deserved.

But Mayo did not panic and the worked the ball expertly down the field through their hands before finding flying wing back Cormac Reape who was upended by Eoghan McDonagh in the Sligo goal, and despite getting a shot off that was blocked on the line the referee called the play back for the penalty. Up stepped Darren Coen, while the safe option would have been to tap the ball over the bar to level up the game and let them take their chances in extra time Coen backed himself and drove the ball low to the net to put Mayo back two clear in injury time. The finishing touch on the victory was added not long after by the Hollymount-Carramore man who pegged the last score of the day from play to see Mayo home by three points.

On a good evening for football, with a strong breeze blowing from the southern end of the pitch straight downfield Mayo played against the breeze in the first half and went about their business in impressive style. They worked the ball well from defence to attack with Micheal Forde, Andrew Farrell, Cormac Reape and Darren Coen all showing well. Two early frees from Coen had Mayo two clear in the opening stages, but Sligo struck back with the first major of the game when David Quinn managed to palm the ball to the net after causing havoc in the Mayo defence under a high ball in. Andrew Farrell and Pierce Kearins swapped points before Ronan Malee slammed home Mayo's first goal after some good work by Michael Forde in the build up. Coen and Sean Kelly added on points before the break for Mayo to send them in three clear at the turnaround. But the story of this game was still to be written in the frantic closing few minutes.

Scores

Mayo: D Coen (1-5, 1-0 pen, 4f ), R Malee (1-1 ), A Farrell (0-1 ), S Kelly (0-1 )

Sligo: D Quinn (1-2, 1f ), M Gordon (1-0 ), R McKenna (0-1 ), D Kilcoyne (0-1 ), P Kearins (0-1 )

Mayo: S Nallen; N Freeman, L Ketterick, B Leonard; C Reape, B Sheridan, P Ferrick; P Collins, G Keane; A Farrell, A Gallagher, S Kelly; M Forde, D Coen, R Malee. Subs: C Naylor for B Leonard, D McHugh for A Gallagher, R Holian for P Collins, T Carmody for S Kelly

Sligo: D Cafferkey; M Gordon, P Higgins, M O'Dowd; J F Carr, D Mahon, S Power; C Burns, S Henry; J O'Reilly, P Kearins, B Coleman; J Rodgers, D Quinn, D Kilcoyne. Subs: N Rooney for J O'Reilly, C Lally for B Coleman, R McKenna for J Rodgers, V Frizzel for D Kilcoyne, E McDonagh for D Cafferkey

Ref: A Clogher (Roscommon )

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