It looked that Mayo were going to get off to a winning start until Leitrim’s Brendan Gallagher punched the ball past Paddy O’Malley from close range deep into injury time to secure a draw in this FBD League encounter in front of 1,696 paying spectators in MacHale Park.
Stephen Rochford gave nine players their inter-county debuts on a cold and wet Wednesday night with Paddy O’Malley, Marcus Park, Ger McDonagh, Aidan Butler, James Stretton, Jordan Flynn, Nathan Moran, Ross Egan and Ciaran Treacy all making their inter-county bow. Also returning to the fold was Aghamore’s Alan Freeman and Castlebar Mitchels’ Neil Douglas in a side that showed 13 changes from the one named to start in their abandoned game against Galway last Sunday.
Ten minutes into the game Mayo led 0-3 to 0-1 with new-boys Fionn McDonagh and Ross Egan getting on the scoreboard along side Douglas after Brendan Gallagher had given Leitrim an early lead form a free. Brendan Guickian’s men could have been further in front if Darragh Rooney had been able to finish a good goal chance in the third minute - but Paddy O’Malley pulled off a fine save.
With 20 minutes gone Mayo stretched their lead out to four points with Alan Freeman pointing a free from out on the left and another debutant Ciaran Tracey getting a fine score with his right after being played in by Douglas. Leitrim could have been closer to their hosts but they kicked five wides by that stage.
With five minutes to go to the break there was just one between the sides with Mayo still leading, as Leitrim hit four points to Mayo’s one over a ten minute spell. Brendan Gallagher hit three, two from frees and another from play and Damien Moran who came in as a sub on 24 minutes drove over a great score within seconds of his arrival. The solitary Mayo score in that run came from a Freeman placed ball in a game that was beset with misplaced passes.
Leitrim were now in a bit of a groove and they pushed themselves ahead but a point two minutes before the turn around thanks to great scores from Eoin Ward and Keith Keegan. They pushed even further in front when Aiden Flynn kicked their seventh point without reply in injury time to send his side in leading 0-8 to 0-6 at the short-whistle.
Mayo had a chance to go back in front seven minutes into the second half when James Stretton was fouled for a penalty - but Alan Freeman’s spot kick was poorly executed and Diarmuid McKernan was able to save it.
The visitors pushed themselves three clear thanks to a fine free from distance by Niall McGovern on 48 minutes. Mayo quickly responded with a point from corner back Aiden Butler to cut the gap back to just two 25 minutes after they had last raised the white flag. Jason Gibbons cut the margin back to a single point with a well taken effort from distance nine minutes later as Mayo began to dominate possession - but failed to convert the changes present to them.
They squared it up at nine points each when Adam Gallagher kept his cool to swing over a nice score, but parity lasted all of 30 seconds before Keith Beirne bisected the posts from a tight angle to put his side back in front by a point again. Knockmore’s Peter Naughton levelled it up with a point from close range with five minutes to go, throwing his man with a great dummy solo in the build up.
Mayo then found an extra gear and Ciaran Treacy kicked two fine points one from a free and another from play either side of James McCormack effort to push three clear deep into injury time and looking home and hosed but Leitrim had other ideas.
Mayo: Ciaran Tracey, (0-3, 1f ), Alan Freeman (0-2, 2f ); Neil Douglas (0-1 ), Ross Egan (0-1 ), Fionn McDonagh (0-1 ), Aidan Butler (0-1 ), Jason Gibbons(0-1 ), Adam Gallagher (0-1 ), Peter Naughton (0-1 ), James McCormack (0-1 )
Leitrim: Brendan Gallagher (1-4 3f ), Aiden Flynn (0-1 ), Eoin Warde (0-1 ), Keith Keegan (0-1 ), Damien Moran (0-1 ), Niall McGovern (0-1 ), Keith Beirne (0-1 )
Mayo: P O’Malley; M Park, G McDonagh, A Butler; J Stretton, S Nally, J McCormack; B Moran, J Flynn; F McDonagh, N Douglas, N Moran; R Egan, A Freeman, C Tracy. Subs: J Gibbons, A Gallagher, O McLoughlin, P Naughton, M Ruane, K McLoughlin.
Leitrim: D McKiernan; L Ryan, M McWeeney, M Murphy; J O’Brien, K Keegan, S Quinn; D Wrynn, C Moreton; C Gaffney, E Ward, J Rooney; A Flynn, D Rooney, B Gallagher. Subs: S Moran, N McGovern, J Mitchell, N Plunkett, D Carbey, C Gallgher.
Ref: Shane Heir (Galway )