Allianz FL D2: Mayo too strong for Meath
Allianz Football League Division 2 North
MAYO 3-17 MEATH 2-12
By Daragh Small at MacHale Park
Aidan O'Shea scored with his first touch of the year as he returned from injury and Mayo marched into the semi-finals of the Allianz League Division 2 with an eight-point win over Meath at MacHale Park in Castlebar.
James Horan's men were convincing winners over Down in Round 1 while Westmeath provided a sterner test last time out.
But they continued their positive start to 2021 with a third-straight win, after they held a big 3-11 to 1-5 lead at half-time in the Castlebar sunshine in a game where both teams had already qualified.
James Carr (two) and Cillian O'Connor scored the Mayo goals while Bryan McMahon and Bryan Menton hit the net for Meath.
Mayo raced into a 0-3 to 0-0 lead after just six minutes in perfect conditions for football. Darren McHale scored their first point and the incredibly accurate Cillian O'Connor tapped over two points, one from a free and the other from a mark.
Jack O'Connor, who was one of the seven late additions to the Meath panel, scored the first point for the visitors from wide out on the right in the eighth minute. Then the free-takers Cillian O'Connor and Jack Flynn exchanged scores, and Michael Plunkett extended Mayo's lead before Meath struck the first goal.
The Mayo defence had looked susceptible to attacks down the middle, against Westmeath last weekend, and Jason Scully burst through the cover only for his shot to be saved well by Robbie Hennelly. But Bryan McMahon was on hand to finish the rebound to the net.
That score meant the teams were level, 0-5 to 1-2, at the end of the opening quarter. However Mayo rallied and scored twice heading into the water-break. Matthew Ruane and Fergal Boland ensured Mayo were in the ascendancy going into the first break.
Mayo blitzed Meath on the resumption and scored an unanswered 2-1 to pull clear. Bryan Walsh was hauled down by the Meath goalscorer, Bryan McMahon, for a penalty and Cillian O'Connor finished the ball past Harry Hogan.
James Carr had registered a couple of wides at this stage but he palmed the ball to the net moments later, to give Mayo an unassailable 2-7 to 1-2 advantage.
Carr, Cillian O'Connor, McHale and Bryan Walsh all scored before half-time and then, after Matthew Ruane sent in a high delivery, Carr caught the ball, turned instantly and shot a bullet of an effort, down low to Hogan's left.
Mayo were 12 points clear at half-time but that gap was down to seven after eight minutes. Eamon Wallace and Conlon both scored and then Jason Scully's pass was caught by Bryan Menton who hit an unstoppable shot into the roof of the Mayo net.
Mayo were 3-12 to 2-8 in arrears but O'Shea steadied things after his introduction in the 47th minute. Substitute Michael Newman and Ruane traded scores but Mayo were clear as both managers explored their benches.
The competitiveness was zapped from there and while Paul Towey came off the bench to score three points for Mayo, Newman helped himself to four, but Mayo cruised to the win.
Scorers for Mayo: James Carr 2-1, Cillian O'Connor 1-4 (1-0 pen, 0-2f, 0-1m), Paul Towey 0-3 (0-2f), Darren McHale 0-2, Matthew Ruane 0-2, Bryan Walsh 0-2, Michael Plunkett 0-1, Fergal Boland 0-1, Aidan O'Shea 0-1.
Scorers for Meath: James Conlon 0-4 (0-3f), Michael Newman 0-4 (0-3f), Bryan McMahon 1-0, Bryan Menton 1-0, Eamon Wallace 0-2, Jack Flynn 0-1 (0-1f), Jack O'Connor 0-1.
MAYO: Rob Hennelly; Eoin O'Donoghue, Oisin Mullin, Lee Keegan; Michael Plunkett, Stephen Coen, Fergal Boland; Matthew Ruane, Jack Carney; Diarmuid O'Connor, Darren McHale, Bryan Walsh; Ryan O'Donoghue, Cillian O'Connor, James Carr. Substitutes: Colm Boyle for Lee Keegan (half-time), Paul Towey for Cillian O'Connor (half-time), Eoghan McLaughlin for Fergal Boland (47), Aidan O'Shea for Jack Carney (47), Darren Coen for Ryan O'Donoghue (61), Jordan Flynn for Darren McHale (63), Tommy Conroy for James Carr (65).
MEATH: Harry Hogan; Seamus Lavin, Conor McGill, Eoin Harkin; Jack O'Connor, Bryan McMahon, Cathal Hickey; Bryan Menton, David Dillon; Eamon Wallace, Jason Scully, Jack Flynn; Joey Wallace, Darragh Campion, James Conlon. Substitutes: Shane McEntee for McMahon (half-time), Donal Keogan for Cathal Hickey (half-time), Padraic Harnan for David Dillon (half-time), Danny Dixon for Darragh Campion (40), Michael Newman for Jason Scully (50), Ronan Ryan for James Conlon (50), Liam Byrne for Harry Hogan (50).
Referee: Martin McNally (Monaghan).