Brian Finn's Mayo minor hurlers did it the hard way last weekend when they pulled a dramatic draw from the jaws of defeat on two occasions to give themselves another shot at claiming the All Ireland Minor C Hurling Championship for a third year in a row. On a number of occasions Mayo looked to be dead and buried last Saturday in Ballinamore, but they dug deep when needed and a Conor Browne goal deep into overtime in extra time gave them a 3-15 to 2-18 draw against the red hand men from Tyrone.
At the end of normal time Sean Kenny from Tooreen showed nerves of steel to tap over a 21-yard-free to cut the gap back to one, when most would have expected him to go for a goal to cancel out the two point lead that Tyrone had at the time. But Kenny played the odds and a few seconds later after the puck-out Mayo won another free and Kenny bisected the posts once again to send the game into extra time. Kenny finished the day with seven points to his name all from placed balls and the Mayo centre-half-forward was one of a number of key men who stood up for Mayo on the day.
It looked from early on that Tyrone might run away with this game and they went in leading at the break by 1-9 to 0-5 after racing into an early 0-6 to 0-1 lead after the opening quarter-of-an-hour. Tyrone grabbed the first goal of the game 18 minutes in when Lorcan Devlin was able to crash the ball over the line to put his side eight clear, but Mayo found a bit of a groove after and points from Sam Forde, Caulm Gardiner and Sean Kenny were instrumental at closing the gap to just seven at the break when it could have been much more.
Mayo hit a purple patch early in the second half and not long into it they had the first of their goals when Bryan Peoples swung on a rebound to raise the green flag. A few minutes later a couple of more points were tagged on and Mayo were back to within a point of the Ulster men. Tyrone were reduced to 14 men when Piaras McErlean was shown a second yellow on 37 minutes, and not long after Mayo went into the lead when Paul Lambert got in behind the Tyrone defence to score Mayo's second goal. Tyrone found another gear and hit five points on the bounce to go back into the lead and they held a two point advantage as the clock ticked down, before Kenny hit his two important frees to send the game to overtime.
The sides were nip and tuck during the first period of extra time, until Tyrone sub Ciaran Langan found the back of the Mayo net from close range. Tyrone pushed themselves into a four point lead during the second period of additional time, and with time ticking away from them, Mayo's Alan Ferguson swung over a point before Conor Browne reacted quickest at the death to snatch a late, late draw for Mayo and send the teams back to Ballinamore to do it all over again tomorrow afternoon, where the Adrian Freeman cup will be at stake once more.