Two Mayo teams were in Championship action today and both of them enjoyed wins in high-scoring encounters. The Minors came out the right side of a 5-12 to 2-19 shootout against Dublin at Pearse Park in Longford while over at O’Connor Park in Tullamore the county’s ladies team got the better of Donegal by 1-22 to 3-12.
I’m away right now and other stuff that was on this afternoon – life’s a beach at times – meant that I only caught the last ten minutes, plus the heart-stopping six minutes of injury time that followed, of the All-Ireland Minor quarter-final from Pearse Park. Once I did tune in to it, though, the stream came through crisp and clear, though by then what had looked like the makings of a solid win for our lads had turned into a storming Dublin comeback.
We’d four goals on the board by then but Dublin’s superior point-taking looked like it would tip the scales for them, especially when a nice curling effort from distance put them ahead for the first time in the game with 53 minutes played.
That comeback hadn’t looked on the cards just five minutes before then. When centre-back Ruairí Keane took off from inside his own half and ran right at the heart of the Dublin defence before crashing the ball to the net, it looked as if the win was in the bag. That was Mayo’s fourth goal – the others came from Paul Walsh, Ciaran Mylett and Ethan Henry – and it widened our lead back out to six points.
We’d been as much as eight points up early in the second half but that blistering Ruarí Keane effort then preceded the Dublin comeback. Two goals in three minutes hauled them level and they followed it up with a point to edge in front.
But that’s when the Mayo lads showed – yet again – what a gutsy bunch they are. Rory Morrin profited from a mistake by his Dublin marker, who palmed a long ball in right into his path, to snatch possession and head towards goal. He showed admirable coolness to slip the ball past the Dublin ‘keeper for what proved to be the game’s clinching score. Here it is:
That wasn’t the end of the heart-in-mouth stuff. In truth it was only the start because there were at least three goalmouth scrambles we had to survive before the ref finally blew full-time, with our lads emerging the right side of a rather titanic struggle.
So it’s onto the All-Ireland semi-final now for Tomás Morley’s team, the first time the county has reached this stage of the Minor Championship since 2014. There they’ll play the winners of the Cork/Monaghan quarter-final.
The ladies had an equally enthralling victory, getting the better of Donegal to qualify for the All-Ireland quarter-final. Unlike the lads, though, they were the ones knocking over more points and in this match it was points, not goals, that proved decisive.
Donegal led at half-time by 2-6 to 0-10 but seven points in a row from Mayo turned the contest right on its head. It was, in the end, the superior point-scoring ability of the Mayo ladies that won the day for them, though Rachel Kearns’ palmed goal didn’t harm their cause either. Here it is:
Both of these great wins, I know, deserve better match reports than these hurried scribblings but I’m already out of time here so that’s all I can offer on them. Well done to both teams, though, and the best of luck to them in the Championship from here on. Up Mayo.