There may have been 18 points between these sides at the full time whistle but this was a very close contest for the first 40 odd minutes.
Cathal Freeman’s fortunate goal when he launched in a long ball that was misjudged by Michael O’Brien in the Leitrim goal proved to be the turning point in the contest.
Freeman’s goal saw Mayo edge into a 2-8 to 1-9 lead 42 minutes in and from that moment Mayo put the hammer down and ran away from their Connacht neighbours, adding 1-4 before the second water break to push themselves nine points ahead and looking good for a place in the Nicky Rackard Cup final next weekend.
It was a very different contest in the first half with Leitrim’s twin towers of Colm Moreton and Conor Beirne causing all kinds of problems for the Mayo defence.
The sides went in level at the break at 1-8 each, but with Leitrim playing with the aid of the breeze having much the better of the play and hitting ten wides to go with the scores they registered over the 35 minutes.
It was level at 1-3 each at the first water break with Leitrim plundering the first goal 12 minutes in when Colm Moreton rose highest to claim a long ball in from Karl McDermott, the ball dropped to the ground and Moreton reacted quickest to pull on the ball on the deck and put his side into a 1-1 to 0-2 lead.
Mayo got their first goal on 17 minutes when Brian Morley spun his marker to fire the ball to the net after some good play from Cathal Freeman and Jason Coyne in the build up - that score put Mayo into a 1-3 to 1-2 lead but a Gavin O’Hagan pointed free not long after levelled the game up going into the first water break.
Both sides went point for point in the second quarter with Shane Boland leading the way for Mayo with his top class free taking proving to be vital keeping Mayo moving on the scoreboard. Boland finished the day with 1-11, ten of those points coming from placed balls.
Mayo switched things up a bit in the second half and got more protection in front of their defence and while Cian French did get the first score of the second half to edge Leitrim back in front - once Freeman’s goal hit the back of the net it was all Mayo.
Sean Kenny pointed then Boland tagged on two quick fire points from frees and then on 50 minutes the Tooreen attacker struck Mayo’s third goal, it looked like Mayo had squandered a chance to get in for a major, but it was worked back to Boland by Corey Scahill and the Mayo number 11 made no mistake from close range.
Sean Kenny tagged on another point from play before the second water break to have Mayo leading 3-12 to 1-9 and from then on it was all about seeing the game out for Mayo and making sure everyone got through the game without injury and getting some game time into the legs of subs ahead of their Rackard Cup final date with Donegal next weekend.
Mayo: S Boland (1-11, 10f ), B Morley (1-2 ), S Kenny (0-4, 1 65’ 1f ), C Freeman (1-0 ), A Phillips (0-2 ), E Delaney (0-2 ), B Hunt (0-1 ), L Lavin (0-1 )
Leitrim: K McDermott (0-4, 1f ), C Moreton (1-0 ), G O’Hagan (0-2, 1f ) C French (0-2 ), C Beirne (0-1 ) Z Moradi (0-1 ), B Murphy (0-1 )
Mayo: G Kelly; G Nolan, S Coyne, J Cassidy; S Regan, D Kenny, C Freeman; A Phillips, S Mulroy; S Kenny, S Boland, C Scahill; J Coyne, B Morley, E Delaney. Subs: L Lavin, C Phillips, B Hunt, D Ruane, C Murray
Leitrim: M O’Brien; P Lenehan, D McGovern, P Early; M Feeney, L Moreton, A McDermott; E Moreton, B Murray; K McDermott, C French, C Moreton; G O’Hagan, C Beirne, S Goldrick. Subs: L Phelan, Z Moradi, J Ward, S Ó’Riordáin, C Mallon
Ref: R Fitzsimmons (Offaly )