Mayo booked their place in next weekend's Connacht Minor Football Championship final against Galway with a goal glut in Carrick-on-Shannon on Wednesday night. It was a night to remember for young Belmullet man Ryan O'Dongohue who headed home from the game with the man of the match award for hitting an amazing 3-4 over the hour's action.
While Mayo were comfortable winners of this game there is still plenty for Enda Gilvarry and his management team to work on over the next week, as Mayo dropped off the pace for periods of the contest, and if they do the same against Galway next Sunday in Pearse Stadium, the outcome could be a lot different.
Mayo hit the ground running right from the off with O'Donoghue getting his first score of the day with less than a minute gone on the stopwatch. Mayo were awarded a free by referee Shane Hehir out on the left hand side of the field and O'Donoghue lined up to take on the shot, but he fooled the Leitrim defence, by playing a quick one-two with Nathan McGee and fired the ball over the bar from play.
Less than a minute later Mayo had their first goal of the evening, when Colm Moran fed Oisin McLaughlin down the right flank, he cut down the end line and found O'Donoghue close to goal and the Belmullet man made no mistake from five yards out.
Three minutes later and the ball was in the back of the net again when McLaughlin beat his man all ends up again and once more found his number 14 in acres of space, and he smashed the ball past Darren Maxwell in the Leitrim goal to raise the green flag for the second time.
The impressive Paul Lambert who put in a top class display kicked Mayo's second point right from the kick-out after O'Donoghue's goal, and the game looked done and dusted as a competition at this early stage.
Letirim did manage to get the next score of the game thanks to a Darragh Rooney pointed free nine minutes in, but not long after Mayo kept the scoreboard moving their end with a great score from Nathan McGhee who broke his opponent's tackle with ease before arcing the ball over the bar from out on the right flank.
Just after the quarter of an hour mark, Mayo got goal number three. Lambert drove the ball in on top of Colm Moran who held off the attempted challenge by his man and was in on goal. He pulled the trigger but Maxwell did well in the Leitrim goal to stop the effort, however McGhee was loitering with intent close to goal and fired it home from a tight angle to put Mayo 3-3 to 0-1 to the good.
The game was as good as done at this juncture and Mayo eased off the gas a bit and allowed Leitrim to come back into the game, and the homeside took this opportunity and dominated the game up to the half time break reeling off five points without reply. Niall McGovern kick started their surge with a well taken score from play, that was followed by three pointed frees from Rooney in the space of four minutes, and with three minutes left in the half McGovern drove over his second point from out the park to leave the score 3-3 to 0-6 in favour of Mayo at the turnaround.
While Mayo had the hard work done already, Enda Gilvarry will be drilling into his side this week that they will not be able to let Galway get a long run on them like that in the Connacht final or they will be in trouble.
The second half opened just like the first with O'Donoghue nailing a point to get things going inside the first minute this time from a placed ball. Five minutes later Balla's Colm Murphy kicked his first point of the game from a free to stretch Mayo's lead out to eight points.
With the stopwatch approaching 40 minutes gone in the game, Mayo plundered their fourth goal and O'Donoghue completed his hat-trick. Cathal Horan drove the ball in long on top off the full forward line and O'Donoghue rose the highest to get between his man Evan Harkin and Maxwell in the Leitrim goal and flick the ball to the back of the net to cap a very memorable day for Mayo full forward. Mayo kept up the pressure and sub Conor Stenson slotted the ball over the bar not long after his introduction to the fray.
Leitrim responded with the next score from a Seamus Sweeney free, but it was just a matter of counting down the minutes until the full time whistle at that stage as both sides ran their benches. Westport's Oisin McLaughlin kicked three fine points for Mayo down the home stretch, while O'Donoghue added two more before the end.
Leitrim did have the final say when they were awarded a penalty deep into injury time and O'Donoghue dispatched it to the net with ease, but all it did was put a small bit of gloss on the scoreboard for the home side at the end.
Mayo: R O’Donoghue (3-4 ), N McGhee (1-0 ), O McLoughlin (0-3 ), P Lambert (0-1 ), C Moran (0-1 ), C Stenson (0-1 ), C Murphy (0-1 )
Leitrim: D Rooney (1-4 ), N McGovern (0-2 ), S Sweeney (0-1 ), J Gilhenny (0-1 )
Mayo: A Byrne; C Horan, D Cosgrove, J Cunnane; B O’Malley, M Macken, J Maughan; C Murphy, N Moran; P Lambert, R Egan, O McLaughlin; C Moran, R O’Donoghue, N McGhee. Subs: C Stenson for N Moran, S Kenny for B O’Malley, T Conroy for N McGee, S McGreal for Ross Egan, L Kelly for M Macken, E Gibbons for C Moran
Leitrim: D Maxwell; L Ryan, E Harkin, F Gallogly; C McGloin, J Gilheaney, S Harkin; N McGovern, E Keegan; C Duffy, S Chandler, E Harkin; R O’Rourke, D Rooney, J Glancy Subs: S Sweeney for J Glancy, S McDermott for L Ryan, C Kiernan for S Chandler, M Dolan for C Duffy, A McLoughlin for R O’Rourke
Ref: S Heir (Galway ).