Mayo were given another tough lesson about life in Division 2A in the National Hurling League by Antrim in Ballina on Sunday afternoon.
The Ulster men ripped through Mayo right from the throw in and had the game out of sight by the half time break when they led 4-12 to 0-5 with Antrim two steps ahead of Mayo in terms of speed of thought and execution in every area.
Five minutes in Antrim led 1-3 to 0-1 with Nigel Elliot smashing home their first major of the game from close range, to add to earlier points from Eoin O’Neill, James McNaugton who put in a peerless performance from placed balls all day and Nicky McKeague, with James Gallagher getting the solitary response for Mayo.
Things continued to go from bad to worse for Mayo over the next 15 minutes with Antrim reeling off two more goals from Ciaran Clarke and Ryan McCambridge along with three minors to lead 3-6 to 0-1 with 20 minutes gone.
Mayo got this second score of the day through as Shane Boland free and the Tooreen man added on another not long after, but a McNaughton point in response had Antrim leading by 14 with 13 minutes to go to the break.
Mayo did find themselves with a man advantage ten minutes before the short whistle when Eoghan Campbell was shown a straight red card for a late hit on Patrick Kiely - but they didn’t convert that into dominance on the scoreboard as Antrim hit 1-5 down the home straight of the half with Elliot getting his second goal and Mayo’s only response coming from another Boland free to send Antrim in leading 4-14 to 0-5 at the turn around.
Mayo did start the second half brightly - with Stephen Coyne and Shane Boland tagging over scores to cut into the huge gap on the scoreboard before McKeague got Antrim moving on the board in the second half.
Eanna Ryan hit a great score on the run ten minutes in for Mayo to make it 0-8 to 4-13 as the game slipped past the three quarters of an hour mark -before McKeague landed his sides 14th point of the day.
Antrim were then reduced to 13 players for the remainder of the game when Elliot was shown a straight red by referee James Conners for a strike giving Mayo a glimmer of hope of getting back into the game.
Not long after Boland landed his fifth point of the day to leave the scoreboard 4-14 to 0-9 in favour of the visitors. But Antrim were next to strike when McNaughton cut right through the heart of the Mayo defence and buried his sides fifth goal of the day and that was well and truly that for Mayo as the game petered out to it’s conclusion with Antrim never in danger of being reeled in by Mayo.
Mayo: S Boland (0-7, 6f ), S Coyne (0-2 ), D Huane (0-1 ), J Gallagher (0-1 ), E Ryan (0-1 ), C Phillips (0-1 )
Antrim: J McNaughton (1-9, 0-7f ), N Elliot (2-0 ), R McCambridge (1-1 ), C Clarke (1-1 ), N McKeague (0-34 1f ), E O’Neill (0-1 ), C McCann (0-1 ), J O’Connell (0-1, 1f )
Mayo: S Leneghan; C Murray, C Daly, J Geraghty; P O’Flynn, S Coyne, C Freeman; D Huane, D Kenny; J Gallagher, E Ryan, P Kiely; S Boland, S Regan, E Delaney. Subs: B Hunt, C Henry, B Douglas, C Phillips, C Schaill
Antrim: R Elliot; S Rooney, J Dillion, P Duffy; E Campbell, M Donnelly, S McCroy; D McKinley, N McKeague; N Elliot, J McNaughton, R McCambridge; E O’Neill, C McCann, C Clarke. Subs: C Boyd, C Patterson, J O’Connell, C Laverty, S Duffin