It was a massacre at MacHale Park as Mayo crushed Leitrim by 5-20 to 0-11 to qualify for the Connacht final against Galway on July 25, which is now going to take place in Croke Park.
As far as build ups to championship games go, this one was not ideal. The rumour mill was in full overdrive with everyone having a different story and opinion about the amount of Mayo players who had tested positive for Covid-19 and in turn which other players might be deemed close contacts and would therefore have to self isolate and also be unable to play.
My phone hopped on Friday and Saturday with people looking for information and every call I took the story was different and a different player was added to the list of those who potentially had tested positive. As the cliché goes, the story got legs with everyone adding their own five eighth.
I was in Semple Stadium for the Tipperary and Kerry Munster semi final on Saturday evening and the TV crew who set up there are the same crew used by RTE who were to go to Castlebar late that night to set up for the Mayo and Leitrim game, but they were unsure as to whether the game was actually going to go ahead.
They were waiting on word from the powers that be as to whether they were actually going to bother travelling to Castlebar. I was told in Thurles that four players had definitely tested positive and if there were four more confirmed the game could be cancelled.
I have no idea where this information was coming from. Word that the Mayo u20's were going to play against Leitrim were totally unfounded and daft. How could they? Maurice Sheridan wouldn't have it, plus they would all be ineligible for their Championship game against Galway because of that ridiculous new rule preventing senior players playing for the u20s.
By the time I woke up on Sunday morning, rumours had worsened, the positive cases had hit double digits. The problem was none of this information was coming from a reliable source and so therefore couldn't be deemed true. The silence on Sunday thereafter was a good thing, the less said the more likely Mayo were going to take to the field. Thankfully the game did go ahead in what was a total mismatch.
Hopefully they all make a speedy recovery, from injury and covid-19. Considering all the furore before the game Mayo still had a strong starting 15.
Hard work pays off
Mayo's demolition of Leitrim will raise questions about the validity of the Provincial system. What I can't get my head around is that Dublin have been dishing out hidings of this magnitude to bigger, prouder teams like Meath, Laois and Kildare for the last eight years and there was never an issue.
Mayo were ruthless against Leitrim which was nice to see. Work rate never waned and they harassed until the bitter end. All bar a sticky ten minutes in the middle of the second half when Mayo didn't score and Leitrim got a few points Mayo totally dominated this game.
The tackling and endless running of the forwards was encouraging. Tommy Conroy and Ryan O'Donoghue led from the front in that regard and both scored heavily at the same time.
Oisin Mullins placement at centre back was interesting. He's playing with the confidence of a seasoned veteran now and always seems to have a smile on his face doing so but at the same time he'd cut you in two if you stepped on his toes, a kind of happy assassin if you like.
Padraic O'Hora too looks like he has put himself into the mix with an assured display at full back. It was nice to see Mullin, Conroy and O'Donoghue get selected for the GAA.ie team of the week with man of the match O'Donoghue short listed for the player of the week. I hope to see many more there after the Connacht final. We now wait with bated breath to hear what players are deemed fit for the final.
u20s hit the spot
What a difference a year makes. 17 months on from agonisingly losing a penalty shoot out against Galway in the u20 championship Mayo have won against the Tribesmen in the exact same fashion in what was a pulsating climax to an enthralling game in Tuam.
It wasn't a game for the purists with scores at a premium, but the ending had everyone on the edge of their seats until Knockmore's Conor Flynn hammered home Mayo's seventh penalty to win the day for Maurice Sheridan’s team.
To their credit Mayo had to dig deep after conceding a goal, ironically from a penalty at the start of extra time. It was a great win but heartbreaking for the losers to bow out in such fashion.