Tony Duffy's Mayo minors saw off the challenge of a fancied Sligo minor side in McHale Park on Sunday thanks to a excellent first half performance. However the second 30 minutes left a lot to be desired and a return of only two points in the closing half is something that will have to be addressed before the provincial decider.
The first half saw Mayo take the game to their northern neighbors with gusto. Captain and midfielder Adam Gallagher along with Shane Hennelly and man of the match Alan Plunkett were the driving forces of Mayo's victory on Sunday.
Ballina's Sean Regan opened the scoring after only two minutes when he took the ball on the run form full forward Shane Hennelly before he slotted it over the bar. Cathal Henry leveled the game up after he was set up by Criostóir Davey following a powerful run from the Sligo centre half forward on six minutes. The next nine minutes of the game was populated with numerous efforts failing to miss the target from both sides as they both tried to get up to championship pace.
Just after the quarter of an hour mark, Hennelly cut in at the Sligo goal from the stand side of the field, he took on the goal chance, but saw Kevin Kelly pull off a fine save in the Sligo goal. Only a minute later Mayo had another goal chance when a driving run from Patrick Durcan drew defenders towards him freeing up space for Darren Duffy who he played in. Duffy hit the ball with power and purpose, but he found Kelly to be once again a match to Mayo's best efforts as the Sligo custodian pulled off a top drawer save.
After missing two goal chances, Mayo needed to register a score to reflect their dominance and Stephen Coen obliged with a effort from out on the right, that was followed by free from long range from Adam Gallagher just after the 21 minute mark. Two minutes later Mayo finally hit the back of the net when Adam Gallagher cooly dispatched a penalty after Hennelly was dragged to the ground by Sligo keeper Kevin Kelly inside the large square. Eoghan Lavin rounded off the scoring for Mayo and the half with a fine effort after a lung busting run up the field by corner back Kevin Lynch, sending Mayo in leading by 1-4 to 0-1 at the break.
Sligo did come back strong at Mayo after the break, with centre-half-forward Criostóir Davey leading the charge alongside Colm Egan and Kevin Henry. Egan and Davey kicked points inside the opening four minutes of the half. Man of the match Michael Plunkett stormed up to hit Mayo's first score of the half on the 36 minute mark, much like the first half both sides then managed to miss a number of chances before Adam Gallagher pointed a free from 45 meters out on the left of the field to leave the score 1-6 to 0-3 with 14 minutes left. The Yeats county men came back at Mayo with Davey kicking two points and Henry adding the third to close the gap to only three points before the end, but Mayo saw off the challenge and Sligo never really looked like threatening to score the goal they needed to put the cat among the pigeons at the end.
Mayo: Adam Gallagher (1-2, 1pen 2f ), Michael Plunkett (0-1 ), Eoghan Lavin (0-1 ), Stephen Coen (0-1 ), Séan Regan (0-1 ).
Sligo: Criostóir Davey (0-3, 2f ), Colm Egan (0-1 ), Kevin Henry (0-1 ), Cathal Henry (0-1 )
Mayo: Conor O'Malley; David McHale, Sean Moran, Kevin Lynch; Patrick Durcan, Cian Burke, Michael Plunkett; Brian Mullen, Adam Gallagher; Eoghan Lavin, Stephen Coen, Diarmuid O'Connor; Darren Duffy, Shane Hennelly, Sean Regan. Subs: Conor Byrne for Darren Duffy (49 mins ), James Quinn for Eoghan Lavin (53 mins )
Sligo: Kevin Kelly; Michael Gordon, Barry Walsh, Stephen Barrett; Cathal Surlis, Kevin McDonnell, Dara Long; Niall O'Rourke, Colm Egan; Cian Breheny, Criostoir Davey, Kevin Henry; Conor Kerins, Cathal Henry, Seamus Cawley. Subs: Brian Smith for Cathal Henry (50 mins ), Jonathan Quinn for Seamus Cawley (50 mins ), James O'Heir for Conor Kerins (56 mins )
Ref: Paddy Neilan (Roscommon )