By Brendan O’Brien, Dr Hyde Park
Mayo 6-25 Sligo 2-11
Few believed Mayo would fail to seal a famous five-in-a-row of Connacht senior titles at Dr Hyde Park this afternoon, but even the most optimistic of their supporters can’t have anticipated a result quite this emphatic.
Mayo’s worth will always be framed through the prism of their ongoing failure to claim a first All-Ireland since 1951, but this quintet of provincial crowns and the manner in which the achievement was banked here is deserving of unqualified praise.
The favourites led by 4-09 to 1-06 at the interval, but even that scoreline failed to do justice to a period in which Mayo left three gilded goal opportunities behind them. It was just that kind of day for Sligo, who were powerless in the face of the onslaught.
Key to the slaughter was Aidan O’Shea. Stationed at full-forward for the majority, the Breaffy man mountain had a hand in nine of their 13 scores in that time, scoring two of the goals and setting up the other pair for his brother Seamus and Cillian O’Connor.
O’Shea scored a third and contributed to the sixth goal after the interval, too. It was barnstorming stuff though he showed the deftest of touches at times as well, catching balls over the heads of opponents and dinking home with a lovely shot for his second three-pointer.
Yet this was a full-court press.
Diarmuid O’Connor chipped in with four points from play, Cillian O’Connor hit 1-6 and, in the likes of Lee Keegan and Donal Vaughan, Mayo had ample runners from deep eager and able to hurt Sligo with their pace and precision.
Not that Sligo helped themselves.
Sloppy at times, they hurt themselves time and again with short kick-outs that Mayo pilfered and the ease with which the winners found space in the underdogs’ massed ranks was impossible to understand from early on.
To be fair, Sligo kept plugging away and merited their goals from Brendan Egan and Pat Hughes, one in each half.
A scoreline of 2-11 might have sufficed on another day, but not this one.
History for Mayo, so. For Sligo, only the embarrassment of a wincing scoreline.
Scorers for Mayo: A O’Shea (3-4); C O’Connor (1-7, 5 frees and 1 ‘45’); D O’Connor (0-4); L Keegan and S O’Shea (1-0 each); J Doherty (0-3); M Ronaldson and D Vaughan (both 0-2); P Durcan, B Moran and A Dillon (all 0-1).
Scorers for Sligo: M Breheny (0-4, 2 frees); P Hughes and B Egan (1-0 each); A Marren (0-3); C Breheny, N Murphy, N Ewing and E McHugh (all 0-1).
Mayo: D Clarke; K Higgins, T Cunniffe, G Cafferkey; D Vaughan, C Boyle, L Keegan; S O’Shea, T Parsons; D O’Connor, K McLoughlin, J Doherty; A Moran, A O’Shea, C O’Connor. Subs: B Moran for S O’Shea (24); A Dillon for Moran (HT); B Harrison for Cafferkey (45); M Ronaldson for McLoughlin (51); P Durcan for Keegan (53); C Barrett for Boyle (63).
Sligo: A Devaney; R Donovan, K McDonnell, D Maye; E Flanagan, B Egan, K Cawley; C Breheny, N Murphy; N Ewing, M Breheny, B Curran; P Hughes, D Kelly, A Marren. Subs: S Gilmartin for Murphy (44); C Davey for Ewing (50); E McHugh for Egan (black card, 57); J Hynes for Breheny (57); N Gaughan for Cawley (59); L Bree for McDonnell (65).
Referee: P O’Sullivan (Kerry).