Mayo got over their first hurdle of the championship season with a nine point win over Sligo in MacHale Park on Sunday afternoon, but Stephen Rochford will be looking for a big improvement from him his side come their meeting with Galway next month.
Mayo’s play at times in this game as disjointed, with no real flow for long periods, but they were more than good enough for the challenge put up by a tigerish Sligo team. The two goals that Mayo hit in this game came in the final minute of regulation time in both the first and second half and they gave Mayo the kick they needed at both stages to see themselves over the line.
The crowd of 14,661 who paid into this one, might not have seen the greatest game they saw this year, but a winning start to the championship is what Mayo wanted and that’ what they got, with Cillian O’Connor kicking 1-6 of Mayo’s total to get them over the line in this one.
While Sligo were in touching distance of Mayo for most of the game, they never really looked like they were going to cause an upset and didn’t threaten to put one past David Clarke in the Mayo goal all afternoon.
The first half was an evenly matched affair, with Sligo going point for point with Mayo in the opening exchanges and the game all tied up at 0-4 to 0-4 each after 14 minutes with Cillian O’Connor, Andy Moran, Kevin McLoughlin and Paddy Durcan kicking points for Mayo and two Stephen Coen points along with scores from Adrian Marren and Mark Breheny for Sligo.
Where's the ball?: Jason Doherty looks to see where his shot is gone. Photo: Sportsfile
Sligo had plenty of possession in the first half, but the put half a dozen efforts wide of the mark and dropped another couple short, one of which Clarke pulled down from over the bar to great acclaim from the Mayo faithful.
Mayo’s final two points of the opening half came from O’Connor frees with Marren kicking his second of the day for the Yeatsmen. Mayo’s first goal which was the vital score of the day came from Diarmuid O’Connor who showed good strength and footwork to ride a few challenges and fire it low past Aidan Devaney to send Mayo in leading 1-6 to 0-5 at the turn around.
The Sligo ‘keeper hit the first point after the restart with a long range free and he was almost beaten for a second time not long after when Paddy Durcan broke through - but his effort flashed wide of the post.
Fergal Boland kicked his first championship point for Mayo on 39 minutes to get their second half charge up and running and he was followed quickly after by a fine score from Andy Moran. Sligo kept on in there and points from Patrick O’Connor and Mark Breheny closed the gap back to three points. Boland fisted over his second point and O’Connor adding on two more frees for Mayo over the next 25 minutes, with Marren and sub Niall Murphy replying for Sligo to leave the score 1-11 to 0-10 as the game edged towards the end of regulation time.
It's between you: Andy Moran and his marker battle for possession. Photo: Sportsfile
Cillian O’Connor swung over a great score from play to put Mayo five clear on 68 minutes and two minutes later Conor Loftus showed great footwork to get in on goal and he played it across the face of the goal where O’Connor was waiting and he palmed it to the net to seal the deal for Mayo. Danny Kirby and Jason Doherty added on points in injury time with Marren getting his fourth of the day for Sligo just before those points, but it was all a matter of counting down the clock at that stage.
Mayo: Cillian O’Connor (1-6, 5f ), Diarmuid O’Connor (1-0 ), Andy Moran (0-2 ), Fergal Boland (0-2 ), Patrick Durcan (0-1 ), Kevin McLoughlin (0-1 ), Jason Doherty (0-1 ), Danny Kirby (0-1 )
Sligo: Adrian Marren (0-4, 2f, 1 45 ), Mark Breheny (0-2, 2f ), Stephen Coen (0-2 ), Aidan Devaney (0-1, 1f ), Patrick O’Connor (0-1 ), Niall Murphy (0-1 )
MAYO: D Clarke; C Barrett, G Cafferkey, K Higgins; C Boyle, L Keegan, P Durcan; S O’Shea, T Parsons; F Boland, D O’Connor, C O’Shea; K McLoughlin, C O’Connor, A Moran
Subs: J Doherty for McLoughlin, A O’Shea for D O’Connor (BS ), A O’Shea for Moran, D Vaughan for C O’Shea, S Coen for C Boyle, C Loftus for F Boland, D Kirby for S O’Shea
SLIGO: A Devaney; R Donavan, C Harrision, E McHugh; K Cawley, B Egan, J Kelly; P O’Connor, A McIntyre; N Ewing, M Breheny, K Cawley; S Coen, P Hughes, A Marren
Subs: D Kelly for Cawley, K McDonnell for Coen, N Murphy for Hughes, G O’Kelly-Lynch for McHugh, S Gilmartin for Kelly, N Gaughan for Cawley.