Mayo end Down's Minor challenge

Down 0-9 Mayo 2-9

Down 0-9 Mayo 2-9

Mayo put in a sterling effort in the second half as they came from behind to beat Down at Croke Park this afternoon and qualify for the ESB All-Ireland Minor Football Championship final against Armagh.

Goalkeeper Michael Schlingermann and team captain Aidan Walsh played huge roles for the Connacht side, while full-forward Cillian O’Connor was their two-goal hero at the start of the second half.

Trailing by 0-7 to 0-5 at half-time, Mayo roared into the lead on the resumption by scoring 2-2 without reply.

Four minutes in, a long through ball bounced free for the onrushing O’Connor. He cleverly used the outside of the right boot to clip it past Down goalkeeper James Deeny and into the net.

Down missed a gilt-edged chance to hit back with a goal of their own when Niall McParland’s shot was parried by the outstanding Schlingermann and Matthew Bagnall’s follow-up shot was inches wide of the left-hand post.

Just moments later, Mayo made it 2-6 to 0-7 when O’Connor rippled the net for the second time in four minutes after initially setting up substitute Jack McDonnell for a shot at the target.

Down paid the price for their wastefulness, hitting 11 wides and missing countless goal-scoring opportunities.

Things had looked rosy for them as they moved 0-7 to 0-4 ahead shortly before the break, with skipper Ross McGarry kicking four of Down’s first half points - including the opener after just 46 seconds.

Indeed, there were only four scorers over a slow-burning first half-hour. Caolan Mooney landed three points from play for the Mourne outfit, while Walsh (0-4) and Darren Coen (0-1) contributed Mayo’s early scores.

Down had two decent goal chances in the opening 15 minutes. Keith Quinn’s goal-bound effort was bravely blocked away by Mayo full-back Keith Rogers and Schlingermann got down well to his right to save Fergal McEvoy’s partially-blocked shot.

But Mayo’s clinical burst of scoring in the opening minutes of the second period left Down stunned and Mark Turley’s youngsters could find no way back.

With man-of-the-match Schlingermann foiling McGarry, substitute Ryan O’Hare and Mooney as Down became desperate for goals, points from Alex Corduff, substitute John Carney and Walsh, who finished with a six-point tally, guided Mayo safely through to the September 20 decider.

DOWN: J Deeny; R Doran, S McNamee, D O’Hanlan; K McClorey, C McClean, F McEvoy; K Quinn, N McParland; C Clarke, R White, C Mooney; D McKibben, R McGarry (capt), M Bagnall.

Subs used: M Haughey for Clarke (21 mins-half-time, blood sub), R O’Hare For Bagnall (40), M Haughey for Clarke (42), P Quinn for McKibben (47).

MAYO: M Schlingermann; D Gavin, K Rogers, M Walsh; C Charlton, S McDermott, C Crowe; D Kirby, A Walsh (capt); A Farrell, D Coen, F Durkan; D Herbert, C O’Connor, A Corduff.

Subs used: I Costello for Coen, J McDonnell for Herbert (both half-time), J Carney for Corduff (51), B Ruttledge for Durkan, M McCormack for Charlton (both 59).

Referee: Brian O’Shea (Dublin)

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