Mayo eased to their first win of the national football league in Fr O'Hara Park in Charlestown on Sunday. In a game that was played in harsh wintery conditions, Mayo got to grips with the game after a slow start to finish up with an eight point win. Injuries had robbed Mayo of a number of players during the week and two more changes were forced on the side from the one that was named in the program. Alan Dillion was replaced by Kiltaine's Mikey Sweeney and Ballina's Ger Cafferkey who had passed a fitness test earlier in the day only to pull up in the warm up had to be replaced by Knockmore's Kevin McLoughlin, which saw Mayo take to the field with five different starters from their last league outing against Donegal.
An 18 minute period form the 19th minute of the first half until injury time at the end of the half Mayo outscored the midlanders by 1-5 to 0-0 which set up the win leaving Mayo leading by 1-6 to 0-2 at the turn around. The wet and windy conditions, looked before hand as if it was going to present a challenging encounter for both sets of players as they tried to avoid picking up yellow cards and being forced to leave the game. Trevor Mortimer was the first man to get a ticking after only two minutes, but only Austin O'Malley was shown a card early in the second half in a contest that saw seven black books shown over the seventy minutes.
The Mayo resurgence in the second quarter should have allowed them to kick on and pile on the scores in the second half, but the final 35 minutes of the game was a very ragged encounter with Mayo loosing their shape somewhat for long spells of the half. Westmeath opened the scoring after eleven minutes of the game when Michael Ennis took it upon himself to have a pot from the right hand side after he made a powerful break but support was not to forthcoming for the wing back. A Conor Mortimer free from the right hand side in the perfect position for a left footed kicker drew the game level on 15 minutes as the 1,700 plus crowd fought for shelter in the stand. Denis Glennon who was threat through out put the midlanders back in the lead on 18 minutes with a neat score on the turn after Derek Heavin and Connor Reilly had linked up well in the build up. But from that moment on for the rest of the half it was all Mayo. Trevor Mortimer's goal on 19 minutes gave Mayo the kick start they needed. Mortimer found the net at the second time of asking, his first effort which came from a Barry Kelly cross field ball which was knocked down by Conor Mortimer into his brothers path, saw Trevor smash the ball against the crossbar. The rebound spun out and up into the path of Conor Mortimer whose weak palmed effort was collected by his brother who made no mistake at the second time of asking. Mark Ronaldson was soon off the mark as Conor Mortimer turned provider once again, when his quick thinking after picking the ball up under pressure allowed him to play in his Shrule Glencorrib team mate to put Mayo into a three point lead. On 23 minutes Conor got his first score from play after Tom Parsons and Austin O'Malley played keep ball on the right hand touch line which allowed Mortimer enough time to find space and create the opening he needed to come in on his left foot. Two minutes before the 35 had elapsed Mayo had a good shout for a peanlty turned down. Austin O'Malley hit a diagonal ball across the face of goal, which the younger Mortimer challenged well for seeing it knocked down into the danger area, Mikey Sweeney looked to pull the trigger soccer style on the ground and to everyone in the ground bar Rory Hickey seemed to take a shoulder in the back and the ball squirted loose to a Westmeath pair of hands. However three more points before the break from a Mortimer free and two fine scores one a team one concluded by Austin O'Malley's hooked effort and the other a fine individual score by Tom Parson's on the break after Mark Ronaldson made the initial break, saw Mayo retire for their half time team talk in confident mood.
The second half was barely two minutes old by the time Peader Gardiner had picked up a ticking and Austin O'Malley was ordered from the game for what looked like a very minor infringement, which saw last years minor star Aidan O'Shea get introduced to the game for the second half. Mikey Sweeney kept things ticking over on the scoreboard with a neat score to put Mayo eight clear, before Denis Glennon scored his sides first score in 25 minutes to bring some joy to the hardy souls who made the trip from Westmeath. While Westmeath may have been trailing heavily on the scoreboard they were still having a lot of the play especially in the midfield sector where in particular Ronan McGarrity operated on the periphery for long periods of the game. In the first 12 minutes of the half Derek Heavin, Denis Glennon (who was now operating on the '40 ) and Nail Kilcoyne all strode through the Mayo defense all to easily for the home supporters liking only to squander the scoring chances. John O'Mahony and his brains trust will be trying to rectify this problem over the course of the coming week. As next week's opponents Kerry are sure to be less forgiving if they are afforded the same chance to attack the heart of Mayo's defense.
It was 18 minutes into the half before either side scored again, this time it was Trevor Mortimer who arced a shot over the bar, which curled just inside the left hand post. His score was swiftly responded to by Michael Ennis who found himself in oceans of space only only 21 yards from goal. Glennon added another point to his total from the day, as the game became even more scrappy and shapeless. Tom Parsons was finally able to win clean ball in the middle of the park on 24 minutes and his charge through the heart of the Westmeath defense before scoring, gave Mayo supporters reason to applause as the wind continued to bite those in attendance. Mark Ronaldson chipped in with his second point of the game after some good work by Barry Kelly who along with Kevin McLoughlin, Ronaldson and Conor Mortimer all impressed with their displays over the seventy minutes. The final two Mayo score's came from Aidan Kilcoyne form a free kick and Tom Cunniffe who barreled his way through the centre to leave his name on the scoreboard. Westmeath were able to cut the gap back to eight thanks to points form Glennon and Francis Boyle, but coming into the game having lost the likes of Dessie Dolan and Martin Flanagan it always looked a bridge to far for Thomas Ó'Flaharta's side.
Mayo: David Clarke; Liam O'Malley, Donal Vaughan, Kevin McLoughlin; Peader Gardiner (0-1 ), Tom Cunniffe (0-1 ), Andy Moran; Tom Parsons (0-2 ), Ronan McGarrity, Barry Kelly, Trevor Mortimer (1-1 ), Mark Ronaldson (0-2 ), Conor Mortimer (0-3, 1f ), Austin O'Malley (0-1 ), Mikey Sweeney (0-1 ). Subs: Aidan O'Shea for O'Malley (37 mins ), Aidan Kilcoyne (0-1 ) for Sweeney (61 mins ), Seamus O'Shea for McGarrity (65 mins ), Alan Dillon for Ronaldson (69 mins ), Colm Boyle for Andy Moran (70 mins )
Westmeath: Gary Connaughton; Francis Boyle (0-2 ), Kieran Gavin, John Keane; Michael Ennis (0-2 ), Derek Heavin, Doran Harte; Niall Kilcoyne, David Duffy; Enda Leonard, Paul Kelly, Conrad Reilly; Kieran Martin, Thomas Mc Daniel, Dennis Glennon (0-4, 3f ). Subs: Conor Lynam for Enda Leonard (19 mins ), Paul Bannon for Kelly (40 mins ), Francis Spollen (0-1 ) for Martin (50 mins ), David Kilmartin for McDaniel (59 mins ), Alan Claffey for Duffy (68 mins ), Barry Murphy for Heavin (70 mins ).
Ref: Rory Hickey (Clare )