Connacht MFC Semi-Final: Sligo 1-9 v 1-7

Back 23/12/2020 @ 08:41 | mainnews | Connacht MFC Semi-Final: Sligo 1-9 v 1-7

Sligo were well deserving winners with the result closer than it should have been in a biting cold Bekan. The performance of the Sligo panel was a joy to behold and definitely warmed those of us lucky to be in attendance. It was controlled, with no panic at all with a squad of players who were looking for the ball in tight situations and worked themselves to a standstill. They were definitely a lot calmer than the supporters who were there. 

Mayo played with the strong breeze and got off to a great start with Mark Gibbons curling over an effort in the first minute and this was followed by Cian McHale for Mayo who was one of Mayos better players on the day. In the 4th minute Adam Gallagher claimed a free that was short and quickly turned and put over the bar. McHale extended the Mayo lead but Dylan Walsh who carried a huge amount of ball was fouled and he pointed from the free in the 11th min. Before the water break McHale restored the lead with another point from play but Luke Marren got his first for Sligo on the day with a sidefooted effort off the inside of the post. 

Ciarán O'Reilly drove through the heart of the Mayo defence to narrow the lead in the 22nd minute, however Sam Callinan did likewise for Mayo 5 minutes later. For the last few minutes of the half Sligo took control and scored 1-1 before the break with a Walsh free and an excellently taken goal by Gallagher. A strong run from defence by Dara Foy saw two passes across the Mayo 13m line reaching Gallagher who turned on a sixpence taking out two Mayo defenders and then placed his effort past the keeper and another defender in the bottom left of the goal to leave the halftime score of 1-5 v 0-6

There was a fear that with the breeze that Sligo would expect it to happen and it was Mayo who got the first score from a McHale free but Marren and Walsh replied to extend the lead to 3 after 10 minutes and it stayed that way till the water break. Sligo were putting Mayo under serious pressure in the kickout area denying Mayo possession for long periods. After a sustained period of play O'Reilly repeated his feat in the first half and burst through two tackles to score in the 19th minute. Luke Marren scored a great score from an acute angle to extend the lead to 5 with 7 plus injury time to play. 

In the 28th minute of the half an attempted point saw a ball bounce inside the Sligo small square with Callinan getting his fingers to it before Jack Lundy in the goal to narrow the lead to one. The sideline official informed all there would be 4 minutes of injury time but the game finished 8 minutes into that with a Mayo free hit into the square but Canice Mulligan and his defence came out with the ball and counter attacked when the final whistle was finally blown. The calmness of the manager Daragh Fallon and his squad contrasted sharply with the supporters. 

This was a well deserved victory with no luck involved. Well done to the panel and management who now prepare for a Connacht final on Jan 9/10 versus Roscommon. 

Sligo - Adam Gallagher 1-1, Dylan Walsh 0-3 (3f), Luke Marren 0-3, Ciarán O'Reilly 0-2
Mayo - Cian McHale 0-5 (3f), Sam Callinan 1-1, Mark Gibbons 0-1

Sligo  - Jack Lundy, Luke Casserly, Ronan Kelly, James Kiernan, Zaal Mahon, Ciarán O'Reilly, Marc Heraghty, Dáire O'Boyle, Brian Byrne, Dara Foy, Luke Marren, Canice Mulligan, Dylan Walsh, Cian Oates, Adam Gallagher
Subs - Fionn O'Hehir, Ross Chambers, Brian Duffy, Conor Mitchell, Thomas Langan