Debutant leads Mayo to easy opening win

Mayo 2-16 London 0-9

Evan Regan scored 0-7 in his first Championship match as Mayo defeated London in the Connacht Senior Football Championship in Ruislip, writes Killian O'Connor.

Mayo opted to play with the wind in the first half and it was that wind which killed London off as they picked off most kick-outs from Gavin McEvoy to lead 2-7 to 0-2 inside 25 minutes.

All that was left for Stephen Rochford’s men was to ease up to victory.

Kevin McLoughlin of Mayo in action against Cormac Coyne of London. Picture: Sportsfile
Kevin McLoughlin of Mayo in action against Cormac Coyne of London. Picture: Sportsfile

Mayo started with purpose, Aidan O’Shea catching the ball from the throw-in, driving down field before feeding Regan who was fouled in front of the posts. Cillian O’Connor sent the resulting free wide.

At the other end Scott Conroy had a similar opportunity to O’Connor’s five minutes in and split the posts off the ground. But Mayo’s high-pressing game saw London struggle to get out of their 13-yard line. Then came a moment of controversy as Cillian O’Connor tripped Phillip Butler who was coming out of defence. Referee Derek O’Mahony showed him the black card.

Robbie Hennelly stepped up to split the posts and level the game with a point 10 minutes in but as McEvoy tried short kick-outs to avoid getting them held up by the wind, more often than not it gave possession straight back to Mayo.

Aidan O’Shea was causing problems and was hauled down by London midfielder Liam Gavaghan (who avoided a black card) and Regan put Mayo in front with his first point of Championship football 13 minutes in.

It was the same duo combing a minute later, with O’Shea fouled and Regan converting a minute later. In a first-half in which Mayo kicked nine wides, Regan stood out, first pointing from play on 16 minutes before O’Connor’s replacement Conor Loftus palmed home. McLaughlin passed across goal to Jason Doherty whose palmed effort was going wide before Loftus’ intervention; 1-4 to 0-1.

Loftus added a point a minute later before Eoin Murray replied for London’s first point for 13 minutes but it was little more than some brief respite. Regan once nailed a free, this time from long range.

And it was all but game over after 25 minutes when Aidan O’Shea’s 20-yard hand pass found the onrushing Jason Doherty who evaded McEvoy to score a goal. A minute later Aidan O’Shea opened his account for a 2-7 to 0-2 lead 25 minutes in.

London ended the half well with three points in a row; two from Adrian Moyles (one free) either side of a Gavaghan point. But Regan pointed from play to give them a 2-8 to 0-5 lead at half-time.

Mayo were in second gear for most of the second half with Regan and Gavaghan trading points early on before Conor Loftus added from play. Mark Gottsche and Moyles narrowed the gap with two quick points but it was merely putting some respectability on the scoreline.

Rochford made a raft of substitutes in the final quarter, with the likes of Andy Moran and Andy Dillon coming on. Two Moran points, sandwiched by another Regan free, saw them lead 2-13 to 0-8 with under 15 minutes left.

Stephen Coen and Kevin McLoughlin, their saviour against London in 2011, pointed well before Moyles (free) and Andy Dillon rounded off the scoring.

Rochford will be far from pleased with many aspects of the result as, despite the result, their wide count and the drop in intensity in the second-half was poor. Even so, they will meet Galway in the Connacht semi-final on June 28th.

London scorers: A Moyles (0-4, 2 frees) L Gavaghan (0-2), E Murray (0-1), S Conroy (0-1), M Gottsche (0-1)

Mayo scorers: E Regan (0-7, 0-5 frees), C Loftus (1-2), J Doherty (1-0), A Moran (0-2), R Hennelly (0-1 45), K McLoughlin (0-1), A O’Shea (0-1), A Dillon (0-1), S Coen (0-1).

London: G McEvoy; P Butler, C Carty, C Dunne; C Dunne, D Ryan, D McGreevy; J Moran, L Gavaghan; A Moyles, M Gottsche, C Coyne; E Murray, S Conroy, P O’ Hara.

Subs: M Walsh for C Coyne 55, C Og Greene for Conroy 60, L Mulvey for Murray 62, S Hickey for Dunne 55.

Mayo: R Hennelly; B Harrison, K Keane, K Higgins; L Keegan, C Boyle, P Durcan; S Coen, J Gibbons; K McLoughlin, A O’Shea, J Doherty; E Regan, C O’Connor, C O’Shea.

Subs: D Drake for Keegan (65), S Nally for C Boyle 50, C Loftus for O’Connor 7, A Moran for C O'Shea, A Dillon for J Gibbons, C Carolan for Doherty (53)

Referee: Derek O’Mahony

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