Mayo picked up their first win of the season with a six point win over IT Sligo in Ballina on Sunday, but they will have to serious up their performance if they are to pick up a second win next weekend when they face Roscommon in their final group game of the FBD League and improve even more two weeks later when they host Monaghan in the opening round of the National Football League. That was the message from Mayo manager Stephen Rochford post their win on Sunday.
No rusty return: Alan Freeman was in top scoring form for Mayo. Photo: Sportsfile
Mayo welcomed back a score of household names to their panel with David Clarke, Jason Doherty and Alan Freeman amongst their starting 15, while Colm Boyle, Donal Vaughan, Aidan O’Shea, Cillian O’Connor and Tom Parsons were all named amongst the subs for this game.
Mayo won the contest by six points, but midway through the second half having built up a commanding 1-18 to 1-9 lead they took their eye off the proceedings and IT Sligo reeled off five points on the bounce in a ten minute spell to cut the gap to just three points with nine minutes left on the clock. Too often in that period Mayo missed their tackles and didn’t work hard enough to close down the students attacking avenues. Mayo did manage to get a grip of the game again in the closing few minutes with Cian Costello kicking his second point of the day and Mayo’s first in 12 minutes to stop the rot, before James Durcan and the once again impressive Fergal Boland rounded off the scoring to seal the win and send the healthy crowd in James Stephens Park home happy.
Mayo started off in impressive form and were dominating the play early on, leading by 0-4 to 0-1 after ten minutes with Evan Regan, Liam Irwin and Alan Freeman all kicking points. Eleven minutes in the students were given a penalty when Eoghan O’Reilly tugged the jersey of Colm Reape as he shot for goal and Claremorris native James Shaughnessy drove it high past David Clarke in the Mayo goal.
Agricultural football: The cattle behind David Clarke's goal weren't 'udderly' interested in the action. Photo: Sportsfile
Mayo responded almost straight away through a Boland score to restore their lead, Alan Freeman then came to the fore for Mayo kicking 1-3 before the interval, his goal coming ten minutes before the break, where he fielded a high ball into the danger area and showed a great swivel to create the space to fire home from close range. Michael Plunkett, Liam Irwin, Cathal Carolan and Boland all added on scores of their own, while Shaughnessy kept the scoreboard ticking over for his side and Mayo went in leading 1-12 to 1-6 at the turnaround.
Mayo began the second half in good fettle with Regan driving over his second point of the day right from the throw in and Freeman tagged on four more scores with Cian Costello getting his first of the day in Mayo’s scoring run that put them nine points clear and looking home and hosed with 15 minutes left on the clock. The students though didn’t give up and they got their own run going which saw them trailing by just three with four minutes left in normal time, but the introduction of a number of experienced subs such as Cillian O’Connor steadied the Mayo ship and they held on for victory. Mayo were reduced to 14 men for the second game in a row when Donal Vaughan was shown a red card late on after looking to have said something to the referee after he appeared to have been shown a black card moments before.
Mayo: A Freeman (1-7, 0-6f ), F Boland (0-3 ), L Irwin (0-3, 1f ), E Regan (0-2 ), C Costello (0-2 ), C Carolan (0-1 ), M Plunkett (0-1 ), J Durcan (0-1 ), D Kirby (0-1 )
IT Sligo: J Shaughnessy (1-8, 1-0 pen, 0-6f ), J Brennan (0-2 ),C Reape (0-1 ), A McClean (0-1 ), B Walsh (0-1 ), C McGettigan (0-1 ), R Connolly (0-1 )
Mayo: D Clarke; D Kenny, R O’Malley, D Newcombe; D Drake, E O’Reilly; S Nally, D Kirby; F Boland, C Carolan, J Doherty; E Regan, L Irwin, A Freeman. Subs: J Durcan for J Doherty (19 ), C Costello for L Irwin (51 ), D Vaughan for D Drake (54 ), C O’Connor for A Freeman (57 ), C Crowe for E O’Reilly (60 ),
IT Sligo: S Kilker; R Gallagher, EB Gallagher, P Nielan; R Gorman, E McGrath, D Curran; R Connolly, K McBrearty; A McClean, C Reape, J Brennan; B Walsh, J Shaughnessy, C McGettigan. Subs: S Meehan for D Curran (17 ), A Wharton for S Meehan (42 ), E Broderick for C Reape (62 ), C Surlis for B Walsh (70 )
Ref: S Hehir (Galway )