This week will be dedicated to the next in a long line of postmortems of Mayo football, Mayo came to Sligo and went home with a lot of serious questions to answer about themselves if they are to have any sort of summer to look forward too. The game had all the halmarks of a classic championship ambush before hand, but this was no snatch and grab raid. Sligo won and they deserved to win, they put themselves where it hurt when it had to be done and when they saw things were working against them they changed things right away.
Mayo couldn't have got off to a better start, Alan Freeman raced away from Noel McGuire won the ball and threw a shimmy before he slotted the ball over the bar with ease. Mayo were flying from the off, six minutes in a ball worked down the field by Ger Cafferkey and Andy Moran, was delivered long into Freeman, who spun his marker again and was hauled down as he made a break for goal. The Aghamore man drove the resulting penalty high to the roof of the net and the win looked on, but that was as good as it got. Kevin Walsh dropped Eamon O'Hara back into the full back line to add some extra protection and Freeman's ability to win the ball was made all the harder.
Colm McGee opened the Sligo account from the placed ball ten minutes in as the Mayo early ambush began to retreat. Conor Mortimer kept the early scoreboard ticking over when he looped over a typical Mortimer score from the right hand side. Just before the score Freeman could have earned a second penalty after he appeared to be hauled to the ground again by McGuire. For the next 17 minutes Mayo went without a score despite winning pleanty of the ball. Sligo's tactic of dropping O'Hara back seemed to confuse Mayo as in the early stages Tom Parsons was playing the same role for Mayo and both he a Cafferkey were marking empty space. McGee scored his second point after the quarter of an hour make when he beat Keith Higgins to the ball. Mark Breheny and Johnny Davey landed points for Sligo to cut the gap back to one. Davey had a ding dong tussle all day with Andy Moran on the flank, until Moran was pushed into the full forward line near the end in a last ditch attempt to spark some life into Mayo.
Conor Morimter broke Mayo's barren scoring run five minutes before the break and added his third of the afternoon just on half time, Mark Breheny bisected Mortimer's double to leave the score Mayo 1-4 Sligo 0-5 at the break.
Seven minutes into the second half Sligo had pulled the game level thanks to points from Breheny and McGee. Alan Freeman pointed from a placed ball to put May back in the lead with 25 minutes left on the clock, and that was the last time Mayo would be in the lead. David Kelly got his first score of the day after Mayo lost possession of the ball from a free on their own 45 meter line. Tony Taylor drilled the ball over the bar from long range on 48 minutes to send the home crowd into delirium, Colm McGee doubled the lead from a free from the left hand-side of the pitch and the home crowd and players sensed that the win was there for the taking. Alan Freeman kicked a neat point following a nice ball in by Billy Joe Padden, but it wasn't the kick start of the comeback that Mayo fans were hoping for. Sligo were everywhere at this stage, putting in hard hits, chasing every ball and running Mayo ragged. Stephen Gilmartin looped over a effort from close in on the right hand side. Alan Costello drove through the heart of the Mayo defence before he slung it over the bar. Mayo had no answer and the bench was ran with Aidan O'Shea, Mark Ronaldson, Barry Moran and Kieran Conroy all coming into the action. Mayo finished the game with a midfield of Moran and Conroy as everything was thrown in at Sligo in an attempt to salvage at least extra time. Andy Moran clipped the ball over the bar with seven minutes left, but Mayo kicked a number of poor wides and dropped the ball short into Philip Greene's hands on a few occasions also. Sligo had their tales up and they weren't going to let the win slip, Kelly kicked two more scores and the former Mayo player Alan Costello kicked his second score of the evening before the end. Alan Freeman had Mayo's last dying effort with a point from a free. But from here on in, it's the bye roads of the country side in the qualifier series. Do Mayo have the stomach for that route in the championship? There is only one group of people who can answer that, and the Mayo team will be having a harder look at themselves this week than any other person in the county,
Sligo: P Greene; C Harrison, N McGuire, R Donavan; K Cawley, B Philips, J Davey; T Taylor, S Gilmartin; M Breheny, A Costello, E O'Hara; C McGee, K Sweeney, D Kelly.
Mayo: D Clarke; C Barrett, G Cafferkey, K Higgins; D Vaughan, T Cunniffe, K McLoughlin; T Parsons, R McGarrity; S O'Shea, T Mortimer; C Mortimer, A Freeman, E Varley.
Ref: J White (Donegal )