The Mayo minors booked their place in this years Connacht decider thanks to an impressive second half display in Sligo on Saturday afternoon, where they saw off a brief Leitrim fight back to finish off the game eight point winners on a score of 2-12 to 1-7. Once again it Ballintubber's Cillian O'Connor was the star of the show, kicking seven of Mayo's points and looking head and shoulders above everybody else on the park. While five of O'Connor's points came from placed ball, his over all play and leadership were instrumental in Mayo overcoming a sticky patch six minutes into the second half when Leitrim hit 1-1 in quick succession to cut the gap back to only two points.
The decisive score in the game came from the boot of Darren Coen ten minutes into the second half, the big fullo forward got on the end of a quick fire move. Midfielder Danny Kirby launched the ball towards O'Connor who had escaped his marker and applied the deftest of flicks to the ball, to palm it into the path of Coen who was breaking towards goal at speed, Coen cooly slotted the ball past Emmett Higgins in the Leitrim goal and put Mayo five points into the lead and in control of the rest of the contest.
It looked early on that Mayo might walk the game when they went into a 1-3 to 0-1 lead after only eight minutes, O'Connor kicked all Mayo's three opening points his third one a sweet right footed strike from out near the left touchline. The goal when it came, once again had O'Connor's and Kirby's hand in it, the Castlebar midfielder dropped the ball in which broke off O'Connor into the hands of Sean Kelly who was a late switch for Mark Regan from the 15 named in the programe, Kelly showed pleanty of composure to drive the ball to the back of the Leitrim net.
However, Leitrim weren't going to give up that early and points from Shane Moran and Conor Guckian, added on to their opening point from the boot of Domhnail Flynn brought them back into the contest with 19 minutes gone. With eight minutes left before the break, O'Connor kicked his fourth point of the game, with a sweetly stuck free from the 45 yard line. Aidan Flynn kicked another score for the side in green and yellow as Mayo began to loose a bit of composure around the pitch and Leitrim grew in confidence. O'Connor did add two more points for Mayo before the break, but Leitrim spurned a glorious goal chance near the median whistle when Conor Guckian was played clean through on the Mayo goal, but he hit a weak shot that drifted past Paul Mannion's goal, without every troubling the Mayo custodian.
After the break, Kelly landed the first point for Mayo when he drove a loose ball over the bar on the deck following a scramble around the edge of the penalty area. But four minutes into the half, the game looked like it was going to be turned on it's head. Shane Moran dropped a long ball in to the Mayo danger area, where Paul Mannion came to claim but go nowhere near the ball and Conor McWeeney got the vital touch to finish it to the Mayo net. The Leitrim goal was followed by a quick fire point from substuite Sean Kelly, but that was as good as it got for the challengers as Mayo soon got their second goal and drove on from there. Mayo now head to the Connacht final, looking to see the county win their third in a row at that grade, and have the comfort that an All Ireland quarter final spot has already been assured.
Mayo: C O'Connor (0-7, 5f ), S Kelly (1-2 ), D Coen (1-1 ) M Forde (0-1 ), A Leonard (0-1 )
Leitrim: C McWeeney (1-0 ), D Flynn (0-2, 2f ), A Flynn (0-1 ), J Mulligan (0-1 ), S Moran (0-1 ), S Quinn (0-1 )
Mayo: P Mannion; B Harrison, N Freeman, C Twomey; S Kelly, C Walsh, C Horan; D Kirby, S McGarry; R Quirke, M Forde, F Durkan; C Costello, D Coen, C O'Connor. Subs: A Leonard for F Durkan, K Ruttledge for S Kelly, R Byrne for P Mannion, C O'Shea for C Costello
Leitrim:E Higgins; J Conlon, D McGowan, M Murphy; A Flynn, M Clancy, C Guckian; J Mulligan, S Moran, M Beirne; C O'Reilly, D Flynn, C Gilheany. Subs: S Quinn for C O'Reilly, J Healy for C Guckian, B Dolan for S Moran, N Plunkett for D Flynn.