London 0-10 Mayo 5-11
LET’S start by putting this into context.
Yes, London were outclassed. As expected. Sure, so the game lacked completely inanything approaching suspense or mere doubt and, alright, they managed just one point from play in normal time and only three all afternoon.
Plenty of ammunition there for the naysayers who have scoffed at the passage of the English side through to this Connacht final, but here is where a history lesson comes in handy and not one of the ancient variety either.
It is only five years since Wexford lost a Leinster final to Dublin by 20 points and London’s 16-point deficit here was also four short of that recorded by Leitrim when they caved to Galway in the decider in 1967.
That one still stands as a record blowout for the Connacht showpiece and the fact is that double-digit defeats have been laced through the stitching of this particular game every decade now stretching back to the 1930s.
Every one of the province’s counties have known the pangs of despair that come with such a wincing reversal in this fixture. Mayo themselves slumped to 14- and 16-point thumpings at Galway’s hands back in 1982 and again two years later.
So, let’s hold off on the carping today and afford due credit to a London team that handled itself admirably against a Mayo side that had 17 points to spare on Galway and a dozen on Roscommon in their earlier outings.
For the victors it was a case of collecting the spoils for a third straight season out west, for the first time since a four-in-a-row side claimed their hat-trick in 1950, but manager James Horan hardly broke a smile as Andy Moran collected the Nestor Cup.
“It’s our third title in a row,” said Horan. “We’ll take that. That was one of the main objectives of the day. We got through it but our level of performance wasn’t what we would have hoped for. We have a lot of stuff we need to look at after that game. It’s human nature to drop to the most comfortable level.
“That’s what we were fighting against. Today, we disappointed in that regard. Some of our decision-making and passing was not good, our shot selection too. Things were a fraction off and that can make all the difference. We saw the outcome of that today.”
The lacklustre nature of some of Mayo’s play was most obviously apparent in their efforts in front of goal given they managed to send 19 efforts wide but it never looked like amounting to a terminal complaint.
Alan Freeman claimed the game’s first goal after just 11 minutes, Darren Coen a second 12 minutes before the interval and Cillian O’Connor — back from a shoulder injury — the last three on his introduction after the change of ends.
O’Connor’s well-being was just as welcome as his scoring exploits and there was further reason for cheer in the sight of Andy Moran, Chris Barrett and Donal Vaughan walking off unhindered after their recent stints in casualty.
Alan Dillon too, whose summer continues to be compromised by a persistent groin problem. “The game will stand to me,” said the Ballintubber forward. “It’s good to be back. Rusty but, yeah, getting there.”
The only bum note was the loss to a suspected hamstring injury of Michael Conroy who has himself been frustrated in his abilities to earn a clean bill of health in recent weeks and his loss left Mayo down to 14 men with five minutes to go.
All in all, however, it was a light list of such concerns given the fragile nature of half-a-dozen of their number on the approach and the determination of a physical London side which amassed seven yellow cards on the day.
With regular goalkeepers David Clarke and Kenneth O’Malley expected back in time for their next outing, and Barry Moran already back training, Mayo’s general well-being is better than it has been all summer.
The chief concern going forward will be a backlog of walkovers that have hardly steeled them for the dogfight that is to come when the championship sets up shop in HQ this coming August Bank Holiday weekend.
“Not at all,” Dillon protested. “If we look after ourselves I’m sure in-house we can get up to the pace of the game.”
Scorers for Mayo: C O’Connor (3-3, 0-3 frees), A Freeman (1-2), D Coen (1-0), K McLoughlin (one free), L Keegan (0-2 each), A Moran, R Feeney (0-1 each).
Scorers for London: L Mulvey (0-7, six frees), D Donleavy, S Kelly (free), P McGoldrick (0-1 each).
MAYO: R Hennelly; T Cunniffe, C Barrett, G Cafferkey; L Keegan, K Higgins, C Boyle; A O’Shea, S O’Shea; K McLoughlin, A Dillon, R Feeney; A Moran, A Freeman, D Coen.
Subs for Mayo: C O’Connor for Coen (ht), M Conroy for Freeman (45), D Vaughan for Feeney (48), E Varley for Moran (54), S McHale for Cafferkey (60).
LONDON: D Traynor; P Butler, S Curran, D McGreevy; S Hannon, S Mulligan, A Gaughan; C Doyle, P Geraghty; G Crowley, D Dunleavy, C McCallion; L Mulvey, E O’Neill, C Magee.
Subs for London: C Óg Greene for Gaughan (26), C Daly for Doyle (32), S Kelly for O’Neill (44), P McGoldrick for Donleavy (66).
Referee: C Lane (Cork).
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