The Mayo minors championship adventure ended in Tullamore on Bank Holiday Monday where they went down battling to the Leinister champions Kildare by six points. In a game that had plenty of attacking adventure and impressive performances, it also had lots of talking points from the man in the middle Niall Cullen who issued four black cards in the game, three of them for Mayo. But at the end of the day the better side on the field won the day as Kildare turned the screw on Mayo in the second half when they had a strong breeze at their back to book their place in the All Ireland semi-final.
Mayo dominated the play in the opening few minutes of this game, playing with the aid of a stiff breeze into the town end of the ground, but they found themselves a goal down after three minutes. Kildare wing forward Jack Robinson picked the ball on the stand side 45m out, he broke for goal, beat three men and fired it low past Adam Byrne.
Mayo responded well and Justin Healy fired over their first score from close range after Oisin Langan won a kick out that had dropped short after it hung in the breeze. Two minutes later Mayo were in front when Healy spotted Ryan O’Donoghue on his shoulder, O’Donoghue beat his man and fired it high past Luke Mullins in the Kildare goal.
The action kept coming and nine minutes in Mayo were dealt a serious blow when John Maughan was shown a black card for a foul on Jimmy Hyland. The Kildare corner forward dusted himself off and slotted over the free to tie the game up. Two minutes later Robinson showed his class again firing over a fine score to put his side back into the lead by the slimmest of margins.
Mayo couldn’t find their range in front of goal in the opening exchanges as much as they would have liked and by the 20 minute mark they’d hit six wides, while Kildare edged themselves further clear when Hyland kicked his second point free of the day from out on the left. Seven minutes before the break Kildare were patient in their build up and drew in the Mayo defence, before David Marnell and Aaron Masterson combined to play in Robinson who fired it over on the run, when he could have kept going and been in for a goal chance.
Mayo didn’t make the same mistake when three minutes later Ryan O’Donoghue found Paul Lambert making the run inside him and the Westport man fired high to the roof of the net and leveled the game up. A minute later Colm Moran arced over a brilliant point to put Mayo back into the lead.
Just on the half hour all hell broke loose and two separate brawls broke out on the field that after they were finally extinguished saw Joe Mason who had come on for Maughan get a black card and Jimmy Hyland get black cards and Donovon Cosgrove and Ciaran Kelly get yellow cards for their troubles. When the dust was settled and the half time whistle blown Mayo went in leading 2-2 to 0-4 at the break.
The second half started the way the first finished with Mayo picking up their third black card, when John Cunnane was shown to the line for dragging down Kildare’s Jack Robinson, Ciaran Kelly pointed the resulting free to level the game up, but Mayo struck back well with two fine points on the bounce from Colm Moran and Stephen McGreal to have Mayo two clear with 37 minutes gone.
The Leinsiter champions then hit a purple patch as Mayo struggled to win the ball from their own kick out into the breeze and Kildare reeled off three points on the bounce through Kevin Foley, Tony Archibald and Jack Robinson to edge themsleves back into the lead. The extended their lead with a brilliant point from a sidline by Ciaran Kelly and that was followed up by a Aaron Masterson score after another turn over from a Mayo kick-out. Mayo did respond through a Colm Moran score to leave Kildare leading by 1-10 to 2-5 after 15 minutes. The Lillywhites then tacked on two more scores from Ciaran Kelly and Jack Robinson to go four clear and the momentum was all with them at this stage.
Mayo did try and find a foothold back in the contest and Colm Moran came close, but his goalbound effort was well saved by Luke Mullins and the ball was eventually broken out for a 45 which was converted by Conor Diskin. Moran tagged on another score from play to cut the gap back to 1-12 to 2-7 with seven minutes to go.
But Kildare got the next vital score, when the ball broke free to full forward Brian McLoughlin who fired it low to the net and put the result beyond doubt for the Leinister champions, who go on to face Kerry in the All Ireland semi-final.
Mayo: C Moran (0-4 ), R O’Donoghue (1-0 ), P Lambert (1-0 ), J Healy (0-1 ), D Cosgrove (0-1 ), S McGreal (0-1 ), S Diskin (0-1, 1 45 )
Kildare: J Robinson (1-5, 1f ), C Kelly (0-4, 2f, 1sl ), B McLoughlin (1-0 ), J Hyland (0-2, 2f ), T Archibold (0-1 ), K Foley (0-1 ), A Masterson (0-1 )
Mayo: A Byrne; S Kenny, D Cosgrove, J Cunnane; B O’Malley, M Macken, J Maughan; C Muprhy, N Moran; P Lambert, C Stenson, O McLaughlin; C Moran, J Healy, R O’Donoghue. Subs: J Mason for J Maughan (BC ), S McGreal for J Mason (BC ), L Kelly for J Cunnane (BC ), C Diskin for C Murphy, R Egan for O McLaughlin, N McGhee for J Healy
Kildare: L Mullins; J O’Toole, M Dempsey, D Shaw; T Archbold, J Gibbons, S Doran; D Marnell, A Mastreson; J Robinson, C Costigan, K Foley; C Kelly, D McLoughlin, J Hyland. Subs: D O’Sullivan for S Doran, P Woodgate for J Hyland (BC ), D Kelly for K Foley, J Burke for B McLaughlin