Mayo booked booked their spot in the 2022 Connacht Minor Football Championship Final with an impressive display against Galway in Tuam Stadium on Friday night.
After a slow start to the contest when both sides felt each other out Mayo took the game by the scruff of the neck once they got on the scoreboard and never looked back. The hit 1-15 and were able to hold Galway to just four points and only one of those from play over the hour.
Both sides flooded their defences early on mirroring each other and forcing their opponents to play over and back the field to try and pry open a chink of light to break through.
But the defences stood resolute for the opening exchanges bar Sean Dunne point that came from the throw-in for Galway.
Mayo almost hit the the back of the net on six minutes when Niall Hurley rose high to flick an effort from Cathal Keaveney goalwards - but it came back off the post and then off the Claremorris man and over the end line for a wide.
The breeze was blowing across the field and into Mayo’s face in the first half and they were loath to take on shots from distance and tried to work the ball into closer range positions, but the Galway defence held them out and scoreless for the first 15 minutes of the game.
The Tribesmen themselves were struggling with their own shooting in the opening exchanges with two long range efforts dropping into the arms of David Dolan who also showed great bravery to come and win a ball played across the face of his goal ten minutes in and stop what looked to be a certain Galway goal.
Mayo finally registered a score 18 minutes in when Jack Keane pointed from a central position 30 meters out after some good play by Niall Hurley in the corner before he shifted the ball off to Rio Mortimer who found James Mehady and he played it on to Keane to slot it over the bar.
Hurley continued to have a big influence over the next few minutes when Mayo rattled off two points on the spin. The first going to Hurley who won a mark right in front of the posts and he slotted it over the bar on 20 minutes.
A minute later the ball was driven in top of Hurley again, while he wasn’t able to claim it he was able to force it back to Ronan Clarke who made no mistake and put Mayo 0-3 to 0-1 up on the scoreboard.
With five minutes to go in the half Hurley was at it again. Mayo won a hop ball on the far sideline after a Galway player stepped over the line while taking a sideline. The ball was worked to Rio Mortimer who flighted in a deft ball that Hurley won, he threw a shimmy to create and chance and fired it over the bar to put Mayo three clear.
David Dolan strode up from goal to hit Mayo’s fifth point on 30 minutes from 44m after Galway’s Vinny Gill was shown a black card for a late hit on Diarmuid Duffy that saw Galway go down to 14 for ten minutes. He repeated the trick just before the half time when he drove over another pointed free from the left hand side to send Mayo in leading by 0-6 to 0-1 at half time.
Mayo picked it up where they left off at the end of the first half with Diarmuid Duffy pointing within 30 seconds of the restart, throwing a great little side step to create some room to to shoot after being found by Paul Gilmore.
James Maheady pushed Mayo seven clear three minutes later. Luke Feeney won a mark in the middle of the field from a Galway kick-out he drove the ball into Clarke who found Maheady who made no mistake in slotting the ball over the bar.
The Crossmolina man doubled his tally on 35 minutes when he arced slung over a point with his left boot from the left hand side of the field and Mayo were 0-9 to 0-1 up.
Galway kicked their first score in 35 minutes from a Éanna Monaghan pointed a close range free and he doubled up on that a minute later from another placed ball. But in the build up to that second score Mayo had to call on David Dolan to pull off a fine save from Ross Coen after he was found by Monaghan breaking through on goal.
Maheady kept things ticking over for Mayo on the scoreboard with his third in a row for his side before Stephen Curley pointed a mark for Galway to keep them in touch. But from the very next play Mayo struck for home when they rattled the back of the net.
Diarmuid Duffy collected the ball 45 meters out and he drove right through the heart of the Galway defence before he hammered it home to the back of the net from 20 meters out to put Mayo 1-10 to 0-4 up and heading into the Connacht final in three weeks time.
Both sides ran the bench as they planned for battles later on down the road, with Mayo resting up after four games in as many weeks and Galway facing Roscommon next Friday night and a potential Connacht semi-final the week after that.
Mayo didn't let up on the scoring though with Niall Hurley, Ronan Clarke and Diarmuid Duffy all adding on excellent points to push them even further in front as time ticked down on the referees watch. The scoring was rounded of by points from Rio Mortimer who had an outstanding game in defence and sub Dylan Gallagher right on the final whistle.
Mayo march on, but Galway could still be facing them again a few weeks time in the provincial final.
Mayo: Diarmuid Duffy (1-2 ), Niall Hurley (0-3, 1m ), James Maheady (0-3 ), David Dolan (0-2, 2f ), Ronan Clarke (0-2 ) Jack Keane (0-1 ), Rio Mortimer (0-1 ), Dylan Gallagher (0-1 )
Galway: Éanna Monaghan (0-2, 2f ), Stephen Curley (0-1, 1m ), Sean Dunne (0-1 )
Mayo: David Dolan; Rio Mortimer, John McMonagle, Lorcan Silke; Liam Maloney, Colm McHale, Paul Gilmore; Jack Keane, Luke Feeney, James Maheady, Zac Collins, Diarmuid Duffy; Calthal Keavney, Ronan Clarke, Niall Hurley. Subs: Dara Hurley for Collins, Dylan Gallagher for Keane, Sean O’Dowd for Maheady, Oisin Cronin for Keaveney, Oliver Armstrong for Feeney,
Galway: Kyle Gilmore; Adam Colleran, Ryan Flaherty, Vinny Gill; Mark Mannion, Cillian Trayers, Ross Coen; Jack Lonergan, Shay McGlinchey; Sean Dunne, Colm Costello, Owan Morgan; Stephen Curley, Éanna Monaghan, Charlie Cox. Subs: Padraic McNeela for Gill, Olan Kelly for Costello, Fionn O’Connor for Cox, Luke Carr for Dunne, Cian Dolan for Longergan.
Ref: Patrick McTiernan