Connacht Senior Final
Mayo 6-25, Sligo 2-11
SLIGO were mercilessly destroyed by mighty Mayo in the Connacht GAA Senior Championship decider at Hyde Park yesterday (Sunday) as the defending champions made it five titles in-a-row in a horribly one-sided showdown.
Inspired by the unmarkable powerhouse Aidan O’Shea, who scored 3-4, with Cillian O’Connor also on song with a contribution of 1-7, Mayo easily completed the ‘Drive For Five’ to move into the last eight of the All-Ireland series.
Shell-shocked Sligo, who held justifiable ambitions of running the champions close, never recovered from Mayo’s brilliant start that saw the green and red machine lead 2-4 to 0-0 by the ninth minute.
Cillian O’Connor and Séamus O’Shea scored Mayo’s early goals with Aidan O’Shea involved in both scores. Aidan O’Shea, a fearsome threat, banged home goal number three after 21 minutes.
Brendan Egan’s superb 25th minute goal – from an assist by Pat Hughes, Sligo’s best performer – reduced the deficit to nine points, 3-7 to 1-4.
But this score failed to halt the Mayo juggernaut because the winners goaled for a fourth time, Aidan O’Shea again on target, 60 seconds after Egan’s strike.
The beaten finalists trailed by 12 points at half-time, 4-9 to 1-6, and the game was more or less over.
Sligo, who continually worked the ball out of defence via short kick-outs, could have been much further behind but goalkeeper Aidan Devaney kept out efforts from Aidan O’Shea and Cillian O’Connor, while Jason Doherty drilled a low shot wide when a goal seemed likely.
Adrian Marren, who scored two points in the first-half, had a pop at goal denied by Mayo net-minder David Clarke.
The second-half saw Mayo add a further 18 scores, 2-16. Aidan O’Shea completed his hat-trick in the 51st minute – yet again from a high delivery into the Sligo goalmouth – and a minute later wing-back Lee Keegan fisted the winner’s sixth goal from a Cillian O’Connor cross.
Sligo, overwhelmed in all sectors, at least kept battling and Pat Hughes’ fine goal after 55 minutes was a reward for his industry.
Mark Breheny, who was appearing in his fifth Connacht Senior final, had a goalbound effort saved following good work by David Kelly and Adrian Marren. Breheny’s fourth point, Sligo’s 11th, was a goal shot that fizzed over the Mayo crossbar after 68 minutes.
Cian Breheny, Mark’s nephew, scored an impressive second-half point – one of the few Sligo highlights on an otherwise forgettable afternoon.
Niall Carew’s shattered side must regroup for the GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship Qualifiers – a win over Tyrone on the Saturday after next would put them into the All-Ireland quarter-finals.
The only slight consolation after this sapping loss is that Tyrone do not possess a player of Aidan O’Shea’s calibre.
Player of the Match: Aidan O’Shea
Sligo: Aidan Devaney, Ross Donovan, Kevin McDonnell, Daniel Maye, Keelan Cawley, Brendan Egan (1-0), Eoin Flanagan, Cian Breheny (0-1), Niall Murphy (0-1), Brian Curran, Mark Breheny (0-4, 2f), Neil Ewing (0-1), David Kelly, Pat Hughes (1-0), Adrian Marren (0-3)
Subs used: Stephen Gilmartin for Niall Murphy, 44; Criostóir Davey for Brian Curran, 50; James Hynes for Brendan Egan, 57 (black card); Eoin McHugh (0-1) for Cian Breheny, 57; Noel Gaughan for Keelan Cawley, 59; Luke Bree for Kevin McDonnell, 65
Mayo: David Clarke, Ger Cafferkey, Donal Vaughan (0-2), Keith Higgins, Lee Keegan (1-0), Tom Cunniffe, Colm Boyle, Séamus O’Shea (1-0), Tom Parsons, Diarmuid O’Connor (0-4), Aidan O’Shea (3-4), Kevin McLoughlin, Andy Moran, Cillian O’Connor (1-7, 4f, 1 ’45’), Jason Doherty (0-2)
Subs used: Barry Moran (0-1) for Séamus O’Shea, 24; Alan Dillon (0-1) for Andy Moran, half-time; Brendan Harrison for Ger Cafferkey, 45; Mark Ronaldson (0-2) for Kevin McLoughlin, 51; Patrick Durcan (0-1) for Lee Keegan, 53; Chris Barrett (0-1) for Colm Boyle, 63
Referee: Padraig O’Sullivan (Kerry)