Practically the entire Mayo squad were taking in a tour of Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa as Stephen Rochford’s third-string outfit were trying to keep the flag flying back at home. Another half-a-dozen of Rochford’s panel were either unavailable or injured, leaving Mayo’s management to cobble together a team as best they could.
Midfielder Shane Nally and Brian Reape were the only member of last year’s championship squad to feature, while 10 of Mayo’s first XV were representing the county seniors for the first time. However, NUI, Galway were still made to earn this win and it took eye-catching performances from a few of their key men to get the job done in front of 2,300.
Strong running midfielder Enda Tierney and stylish centre- forward Michael Daly (a son of former Galway forward and manager, Val) shared six points from play evenly between them.
Burly full-forward Damien Comer, an All Star nominee last season, also struck a game-breaking 1-4 from open play while former Mayo forward Adam Gallagher delivered nine points, including six superbly-struck frees.
Comer’s goal 10 minutes into the second-half proved decisive as it came in the midst of an NUI, Galway blitz that ultimately left Mayo with too much to do.
The students had also set the early pace and were five points up after 15 minutes as they made maximum use of the breeze.
But goals from Castlebar Mitchels’ duo Neil Douglas (penalty) and Danny Kirby on 22 and 28 minutes kept things interesting. The sides were deadlocked at half-time (0-13 to 2-7), and nobody was complaining about the standard of fare
The second-half was just as helter-skelter and high scoring, Mayo’s makeshift outfit just failing to reel the students back in, despite the best efforts of the impressive Fergal Boland who finished with four points from play.
R Byrne; N McManamon, R O’Malley, D Newcombe; B McDermott, E O’Reilly, M Plunkett; S Nally (0-2), D Kirby (1-0); F McDonagh, C Costello, F Boland (0-4); L Irwin (0-3, 3fs), N Douglas (1-3, 1-0pen, 1f), B Reape (0-3).
J Durcan for Irwin (45); J Forkan for Costello (61); F Duffy (0-1) for Reape (64); D Cannon for McDermott (66); J McCormack for McDonagh (66); TJ Byrne for O’Reilly (68).
T O’Malley; S Brennan, J Kennedy, A O’Connor; K Molloy (0-1), R Greene, E Boland; M Barrett, E Tierney (0-3); S Conroy, M Daly (0-3), A Gallagher (0-9, 6fs); M McClean (0-1), D Comer (1-4), O Gallagher.
M Clarke for Kennedy (half-time); A McCormack for Boland (40); K Quinn for McClean (57); D McCormack for Barrett (65).
B Judge (Sligo)