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The outstretched fingers of Robbie Hennelly knocking down a Cillian O’Connor free from going over the bar - brought to an end an absorbing local championship derby in Clogher on Saturday night.
When these two sides come face to face on May 13 in Castlebar if there are half as many talking points as in this game, the paying punters will have got their monies worth.
Mayo bookended their FBD League campaign by registering their first win of the new season against Sligo in James Stephens Park. But as Mayo manager Stephen Rochford said after the game; “That sort of performance won’t get you any points in Clones.”
Despite playing with two extra men for the last 12 minutes of normal time after both Damien Comer and Sean Mulkerrin had been sent to the line, the former for straight red and the latter for a black card having already be booked - Mayo were unable to see off the challenge of Kevin Walsh’s Galway at home, going down by a point and not scoring for over 34 minutes in the second half including injury time.
With six minutes left on the clock in Cusack Park in Ennis, it looked like it might finally go wrong for this marvellous Mayo team when Brian Coakley kicked his fifth point of the day to draw Cork level with Mayo with the score 3-7 to 1-13. Cork were coming and the momentum was with them at this stage. Peter Kelleher was causing havoc inside the Mayo defensive line and the legs seemed to be going in some of those in green and red.
There was no need for the Mayo faithful who made the 300km round trip to Tullamore to switch on their radios on the way home if there was more than one happy soul making the trip back west on Saturday evening. For they had plenty food for thought and conversation after seeing Mayo produce one of the gutsiest comebacks in memory to edge into the All Ireland u21 final on Saturday, April 30 against Cork.
Michael Plunkett wasn’t the man that you would have expected to pop up and score the winner in this epic encounter in Sligo, but the Ballintubber man showed nerves of steal to edge Mayo ahead in injury time of a dramatic encounter.
Mayo booked their place in the Connacht u21 final for the first time in seven years in Páirc Seán Mac Diarmada on Saturday night thanks to a four goal haul in a 20 minute period either side of half time on a sun splashed evening.
Vital interventions at the start and the end of this encounter from Robbie Hennelly saw Mayo over the line to gain their first two points in this years National Football League. Right from throw in Hennelly was called into action after Karl O’Connell burst through from half-way with the ball, but one on one with Hennelly the keeper stood tall to stop Mayo getting off to a terrible start.
Mayo showed the kind of fight and heart that will have given their supporters plenty of cause for optimism going into the rest of the league campaign which will return at the tail end of the month. However, despite that fight and heart Mayo are still pointless after their first two rounds of action in the league and now face into two tough road trips to Ulster on the bounce before the final swing of three games at the tail end of Spring.