Mayo brush off Sligo

Mayo 3-11 Sligo 0-07

Mayo 3-11 Sligo 0-07

Sligo suffered a devastating double blow in Castlebar this afternoon as they lost their grip on the Connacht SFC title and also slid into the Tommy Murphy Cup.

Suffering a 13-point hammering, the Yeats men looked all at sea and a shadow of the side that gained that historic final win last summer as Mayo confidently marched into a July 13 decider against arch rivals Galway.

This semi-final encounter, the counties' first championship meeting since 2003, failed to catch fire and was a big letdown for the 12,317 spectators present.

The Connacht championship needed a good, competitive game to enliven it after some damp squibs in recent weeks, but this game failed to live up to its billing.

Incredibly, only two players scored for Sligo during the 70 minutes - Mark Breheny landed four points while David Kelly finished with a 0-03 tally.

Sligo, who were again without their injured captain Noel McGuire, made the early running but they found scores hard to come by.

Eamonn O'Hara failed to nail a point attempt after a good midfield catch and Kelly was denied by a well-timed block by Mayo's debutant corner back Colm Boyle.

Tom Parsons had opened the scoring at the other end and despite some decent early attacks, a frustrated Sligo remained scoreless until the 16th-minute.

A goal chance went a-begging in the seventh-minute when Eoin McHugh helped play Michael McNamara through on goal, but Mayo stopper David Clarke produced a fine save.

After two missed placed balls by Johnny Davey, Breheny opened the defending champions' account from an angled free.

That score cut the gap to 0-03 to 0-01 as it was preceded by two Conor Mortimer points.

The blonde-topped attacker was particularly lively this afternoon, finishing with five points and he also drew the foul for Pat Harte's first half penalty strike.

In between points from Austin O'Malley, Harte and Mortimer again, Sligo brought McGuire into the fray.

Breheny and Kelly picked off two well-taken points for the visitors but there was nothing they or their skipper could do in the 30th-minute when a quickly-taken Andy Moran caught the Sligo defence on the hop.

The ball in was gobbled up by Mortimer who was brought to ground as he bore down on goal - referee John Bannon had no hesitation in awarding a penalty.

Harte calmly stroked his effort home, handing Mayo a 1-06 to 0-03 lead to take into the break.

The quality of football and intensity of the game took a disastrous dip in the early stages of the second half.

Substitutes John McPartland and Gerry McGowan were close to nabbing goals for Sligo, but two green flags from Trevor Mortimer and Aidan Kilcoyne really killed off the game as a contest.

With Sligo deflated and out for the count, a string of late points from O'Malley, Kilcoyne, Mortimer and Parsons crowned Mayo's progress through another provincial final - their fifth of the decade.

However, their manager John O'Mahony will be disappointed that they did not have to undergo a bigger test on their first day out in the 2008 championship.

MAYO: D Clarke; C Boyle, K Conroy, K Higgins; T Cunniffe, D Heaney, J Nallen; R McGarrity (capt), T Parsons (0-02); P Gardiner, P Harte (1-01, 1-00 pen), T Mortimer (1-00); C Mortimer (0-05), A O'Malley (0-02), A Moran.

Subs used: A Kilcoyne (1-01) for Gardiner (54 mins), BJ Padden for O'Malley (64), M Mullins for T Mortimer (67), M Ronaldson for Moran (70).

SLIGO: P Greene; C Harrison, P Naughton, R Donovan; P McGovern, B Egan, E McHugh; E O'Hara (capt), K Quinn; G Gaughan, M McNamara, B Curran; J Davey, M Breheny (0-04, 0-03f), D Kelly (0-03).

Subs used: N McGuire for Naughton (18-21 mins, blood sub), B Phillips for McGovern (21), McGuire for McNamara (27), Stephen Gilmartin for Quinn (half-time), John McPartland for McHugh (46), Gerry McGowan for McPartland (56).

Referee: John Bannon (Longford)

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