Mayo 0-12 Sligo 0-10
Mayo they struggled over the finish line to collect their 43rd Connacht SFC title at Hyde Park today.
James Horan’s side lacked fluency and conviction, but with the help of a second-half dig-out from the bench, they did just about enough to avoid a shock defeat.
Aidan O’Shea was the man who made the biggest impact from the bench, giving Mayo a massive lift at midfield in the final half-hour as they finally began to look like a side on a mission.
A gusting wind made life difficult for the defending champions in the first half, but there was no sign of panic when they trailed by two points at the interval.
The anticipated flourish was slow in appearing, however, and it was only in the final 10 minutes that they succeeded in pulling away from the Yeatsmen.
Danny Geraghty fired over an opening point for Mayo after three minutes, but they went a further 22 minutes before they managed their next score.
A wind gusting into their faces made life difficult for a Mayo side that often saw moves broken up as they attempted to move the ball into scoreable positions.
They did have the ball in the net in the ninth minute, but the goal was disapplowed by referee Cormac Reilly for an illegal handpass by Cilian O’Connor as he sent Andy Moran through to finish low past Philip Greene.
Donal Vaughan also had a crack at goal, but his effort was blocked by Johnny Martyn, and Keith Higgins and Moran should have done better as they fisted wide from just a couple of yards out.
Sligo enjoyed greater success from a more direct approach, with Costello knocking over another free, before David Kelly slotted a neat point from a difficult angle.
Adrian Marren, the hero of the semi-final win over Galway, added a well-taken point to ease them into a 0-4 to 0-1 lead by the 16th minute.
Mayo’s finishing let them down badly, and they went 22 minutes without scoring until Enda Varley converted a free.
Barry Moran also had a crack at goal charged down by Johnny Martyn, and at the break, Mayo trailed by 0-5 to 0-3.
But once they got the gusting wind in their backs, started to move more fluently, and they were level by the ninth minute of the second half.
Andy Moran, Cillian O’Connor, from a free, and Barry Moran all hit the target to tie it up at 0-6 each, but two massive ground kicks into the wind, one a ’45, the other a 50 metre free, from Davie Maye, had the Yeatsmen back in front.
But Mayo stepped it up once again, with Aidan O’Shea making an impact off the bench and slicing over a point to bring the sides level for the fourth time.
Scores from wing backs Colm Boyle and Lee Keegan pushed Mayo back in front, and despite losing midfielder Barry Moran to a second yellow card, they held on to win by two.
Mayo: C O’Connor 0-3 (2f, 1 ’45), A Dillon 0-2, A Moran, B Moran, L Keegan, C Boyle, A O’Shea, D Geraghty, E Varley (f) 0-1 each
Sligo: A Marren 0-3 (2), D Maye (1f, 1 ’45), A Costello (2f), M Breheny (1f) 0-2 each, D Kelly 0-1.
MAYO: D Clarke, K Keane, G Cafferkey, K Higgins, L Keegan, D Vaughan, C Boyle, B Moran, D Geraghty, L McvLoughlin, C O’Connor, A Dillon, E Varley, A Moran, J Doherty.
Subs: A O’Shea for Geraghty, M Conroy for Varley, A Freeman for Doherty
SLIGO: P Greene, N Ewing, J Martyn, R Donovan, C Harrison, M Quinn, P McGovern, S McManus, T Taylor, A Costello, D Maye, B Egan, M Breheny, A Marren, D Kelly.
Subs: E O’Hara for McManus, E Mullen for Taylor, S Coen for Costello, J Davey for McGovern, D Rooney for Quinn.
Referee: C Reilly (Meath).