While the performance of their senior footballers in their demolition of All-Ireland champions Donegal may have provided the main talking point of last weekend’s GAA action, the minor footballers from Mayo laid down their own marker with a commanding second-half performance to which Westmeath simply had no answer. Defeat marks the end of the road for Tommy Carr’s side while Mayo can now look forward to an All-Ireland semi-final meeting with Monaghan.
Trailing by just three points at the break and with wind advantage to come the maroon and white support had plenty of reason to be hopeful. Instead it was Mayo who grabbed the game by the scruff and when Cian Hanley converted a penalty in the 36th minute it was as good as game, set, and match for the Connacht champions.
A further 1-3 without reply by the three-quarter mark left Westmeath staring a hammering in the face. Thankfully the men in green and red failed to add to their tally in the final quarter while the losers added a meagre two points in the entire second half.
Scores win matches and Westmeath were far too reliant on Luke Loughlin and Robbie Hickey in that department. They were the only two Westmeath players to score whereas Mayo had no less than seven scorers.
The humiliating defeat to Kildare in the Leinster final and now Mayo does take a lot of the gloss away from the achievement of having reached the provincial decider for the first time in 13 years. Kildare have since been tamed by Roscommon while it remains to be seen just how good this Mayo side actually is.
On the positive side reaching the provincial decider is a step in the right direction and for our young footballers to get the experience in playing big games in the likes of Croke Park and O’Connor Park can only do them good. Fifteen of the panel including many of the starting team are underage again next year so there is plenty of reason to be optimistic of them doing well at this level again next year. Planning for that however needs to begin straight away.