Eirgrid Connacht Under 21 Football Championship 2015
Mayo 4-7 Leitrim 0-8
Mayo progressed to a meeting with Galway following tonight’s quarter final with Leitrim in Elvery’s McHale Park Castlebar. Following a most competitive first half, after which Mayo held a 1-4 to 0-5 advantage, the second half was overshadowed by a neck injury to Leitrim full back Gary Butler following an accidental collision in the lead up to the second Mayo goal. The game was held up for 23 minutes as Butler had to be stretchered off the field and taken by ambulance to Castlebar Hospital and both teams were taken off the field. Thankfully Gary will make a full recovery from this injury. While the remainder of the match was played out competitively, Mayo at that stage had taken a significant step towards victory and this allied to the fact that Donal Wrynn had by this stage received a black card led to a significant reduction in Leitrim’s challenge.
The game started much brighter for Leitrim, and with a very well organised defensive strategy they were quick off the mark with two points from play, one each from Conor Gaffney and Donal Wrynn. James Durcan responded with a point for the Mayo men and goalkeeper Matthew Flanagan levelled matters with a 45. Gaffney with two pointed frees kept Leitrim to the fore as the broke menacingly from defence and were forcing Mayo into kicking wides. Corner back Michael Hall, who ultimately won the Man of the Match Award, broke into space and finished a Mayo move to the net to give Mayo the lead for the first time as the game moved into the second quarter. Gary Plunkett was on the end of a flowing Leitrim break to level matters again. Two quick points from Stephen Coen and Darren McHale restored the home side’s lead and it was one that they would ultimately not surrender. There were a number of chances for either side before the break but all were squandered and the teams left the field with Mayo holding a two point cushion.
Michael Hall opened the second half Scóring with a fine point on the spin, before Leitrim’s hopes were dented as Donal Wrynn received a black card. Adam Gallagher increased the Mayo lead with a point from play to which Conor Gaffney responded with a free. Another 45 by keeper Matthew Flanagan opened a four point lead as Mayo piled on the pressure. Following a meanacing move forward, Mayo bore down onÓgoal, and following the collision that resulted in the Gary Butler injury, Diarmuid O Connor finished to the empty net and it was effectively game over as the Mayo men opened a seven point lead.
On the resumption of play, substitute Matthew Ruane fired home mayo’s third goal to put the seal on victory. While Leitrim played manfully and never threw in the towel, there was only one outcome apparent. Mark Plunkett and Nicholas Moore added points while Adam Gallagher finished Mayo’s fourth goal and the contest finished without further incident. Leitrim, spirited as always, fought to the end but it is Mayo who will face Galway in the semi-final on Saturday March 21.
Leitrim’s Under 21 season is over, but they will look back on a campaign that, while ultimately ending at the first hurdle, will have overseen the further development of players for the future at senior level.
Leitrim: Brendan Flynn, James Mitchell, Gary Butler, Keelan McHugh, Oisin Madden, Nicholas Moore (0-1), Jack de Lacy, Donal Wrynn (0-1), Felim McHugh, James Rooney, Mark Plunkett (0-1), Daire Farrell, Gary Plunkett (0-1), Dean McGovern, Conor Gaffney (0-4). Subs used: Niall Brady, Kevin Shanley, Kenny Cox, Michael Clancy and Declan Daly.
Mayo: Matthew Flanagan (0-2), Michael Hall (1-1), David Kenny, James Stretton, Sean Regan, Stephen Coen (0-1), Patrick Durcan, Diarmuid O Connor (1-0), TJ Byrne, Val Roughneen, Adam Gallagher (1-1), Darren McHale (0-1), Cian Burke, Brian Reape, James Durcan (0-1). Subs used: Matthew Ruane (1-0), Kevin Lynch, Morgan Lyons, Michael Plunkett, Steven Conroy.
Referee: John Gilmartin (Sligo)
12-Mar-15 by Declan Bohan – PRO