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Lee Keegan said that he “absolutely” meant to loop the ball over Paul Durcan’s head and into the top corner of the net three minutes into the second half. As soon as the green flag was raised by the umpires, Mayo were on their way to a fifth All Ireland semi-final in a row. That goal put seven points between the sides and it was a matter of seeing out the game from there on in.
By the time Niall Murphy had put Sligo's first score on the board, just before the 10 minute mark, Mayo had their 46th Connacht title well under wraps, having scored 2-4 of their own. Mayo's frantic work rate and total domination of Sligo's own kick-out was the foundation to that start. They never gave Sligo an inch to breathe in the early exchanges and forced Aidan Devaney into a risky kick-out strategy that was ultimately fatal for the game. We take a look at where those scores came from below.
Mayo used 21 players yesterday on the field in their historic win over Sligo as they picked up their fifth Connacht title on the bounce, we run our eye over the performance of all those 21 players.
Whatever lingering doubts there were at the start of the year of Mayo’s ability to retain their place at the top of the tree in Connacht, were put to bed with barely six minutes of this Connacht final elapsed on Padraig O’Sullivan’s stopwatch. At the end of the day Mayo had claimed their fifth Connacht tile on the bounce and dished out the kind of hammering to Sligo that will be of no use to either side as they move on to their respective next stages of the championship.
Mayo have made two changes for Sunday's Connacht final clash with Sligo from the team that lined out against Galway in Pearse Stadium in their semi-final win in Salthill five weeks ago. Back into the starting line up comes Ger Cafferkey and Donal Vaughan, with the Ballinrobe man wearing the number three shirt and Cafferkey the number two jersey. Whether both men actually play in those positions on Sunday remains yet to be seen, with Cafferkey normally occupying the full back position. Out of the side have gone Belmullet's Chris Barrett and Westport's Kevin Keane, Keane missing out after he picked up an injury in last Sunday's A v B game in Elverys MacHale Park.
It started and ended with a handbags being thrown, but in the seventy odd minutes in between Mayo did what they needed to do and saw off Galway in a sun splashed Pearse Stadium on Sunday afternoon. The main man on the day for Mayo was Aidan O’Shea who put in a show stopping performance where he tormented the Galway defence for the full seventy minutes. The big Breaffy man was hauled to the ground so often in desperation by Galway defenders that his knees will be sore for a few days from the impact of landing.
Cillian O'Connor has won his race to be fit for the start of the championship and has been named at full forward for Sunday's showdown with Galway. Former team captain, Andy Moran has also returned to the starting 15 and will line out at corner forward with Jason Doherty in the opposite corner to Moran.
The time is nigh. Mayo will put their Connacht championship on the line when they travel to Salthill in Galway to take on the home side in the Connacht semi-final on Sunday. It has been 10 weeks since we watched the green and red in competitive action, but the time seems to have just dwindled away, such was the anticipation about what may unfold in Salthill.
It’s been a long wait and it's nearly over. Since Mayo last tasted competitive action almost every other county has been involved in championship action, with Sligo the only side to have not got their summer underway by the time Mayo throw in against Galway on Sunday. This will be the first proper test of the Holmes and Connelly management ticket in the white heat of championship action and they couldn’t have asked for a more traditional joust than a meeting with Galway in their own back yard.
The Connacht Championship will throw-in, in three weeks time when Galway cross the Atlantic to take on New York, but Mayo are now in a holding pattern for the next nine weekends, until they in all probability take on Galway in Pearse Stadium in the Connacht semi-final. By that stage the Tribesmen should have two wins under their belts as they are down to face Leitrim a fortnight after their Big Apple adventure.