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Connacht SFC: Mayo march on

Darren McHale celebrates after scoring a goal for Mayo against Sligo at Markievicz Park.

Darren McHale celebrates after scoring a goal for Mayo against Sligo at Markievicz Park.

Connacht Senior Football Championship Quarter-Final

MAYO 3-23 SLIGO 0-12

By Colm Gannon at Markievicz Park

Mayo made no mistake as they got their Championship camoaign off to an impressive start seeing off Sligo by 20 points to set up a Connacht semi-final against Leitrim.

Mayo tore into Sligo from the get go in Markievicz Park and went in leading by 14 points at the break following a devastating 35 minutes of football.

Darren McHale marked his first championship start with 1-4 from play in the first half, while Aidan O’Shea helped himself to 2-2 before the turn around as Mayo laid down a marker for the season ahead. 

McHale hit the first three points of the day for Mayo inside the opening five minutes with Niall Murphy replying with one for his side. 

But that was as close as it got for Sligo as Mayo took complete control of the game and went in leading 1-7 to 0-2 at the first water break. 

O’Shea got Mayo’s first goal when they overpowered the Sligo rearguard to win back possession and he charged through to fire the ball home. With Paddy Durcan, Tommy Conroy and Ryan O’Donoghue adding to the points score by McHale. 

The second quarter was much more of the same with O’Shea powering home his second goal form close range just before the 25 minute mark to put Mayo 2-10 to 0-3 up and McHale banged home the third goal of the day 28 minutes in. 

He reacted quickest to put the ball past Eamonn Kilgallon after he had pulled off a smart save from Tommy Conroy. 

The Sligo flag was flown by the their attacking pair Niall Murphy and Sean Carrabine who chipped in with five points between them as they kept up the fight. Murphy came close to hitting a goal for Sligo in that opening half, but his snap shot effort crashed back off the bar. 

The third quarter saw the pace drop dramatically out of the game, with Mayo adding five more points to their tally with Ryan O’Donoghue getting some more practice as Mayo’s new free taker and he chipped in with five points for the day, four from placed balls before he was taken off late on. 

It was more of the same down the home straight, with Mayo easing their way to the final whistle with Conor Loftus kicking two good points before the full time whistle and Niall Murphy showing his fighting spirit right to the end getting two more points to finish up with six points for the day. 

Scorers for Mayo: Darren McHale (1-5), Aidan O’Shea (2-2), Ryan O’Donoghue (0-5,4f) Conor Loftus (0-2), Eoghan McLaughlin (0-2), Tommy Conroy (0-2), Jordan Flynn (0-1), Paddy Durcan (0-1), Fergal Boland (0-1), Stephen Coen (0-1), James Carr (0-1)

Scorers for Sligo: Niall Murphy (0-6, 1f), Sean Carrabine (0-2), Mikey Gordon (0-1) Patrick O’Connor (0-1), Keelan Cawley (0-1), Liam Gaughan (0-1).

**MAYO: **Rob Hennelly; Enda Hession, Oisin Mullin, Lee Keegan; Michael Plunkett, Paddy Durcan, Eoghan McLaughlin; Matthew Ruane, Conor Loftus; Kevin McLoughlin, Darren McHale, Jordan Flynn; Tommy Conroy, Aidan O’Shea, Ryan O’Donoghue. 

**Subs: **Fergal Boland for Flynn (46), Padraig O’Hora for Keegan (53), Stephen Coen for Durcan (60), Paul Towey (62) for O’Donoghue, James Carr for McLoughlin (69).

SLIGO: Eamonn Kilgallon; Ryan Feehily, Eddie McGuinness, Karl McKenna; Nathan Mullen, Paul McNamara, Peter Laffey; Patrick O’Connor, Paul Kilcourse; David Quinn, Liam Gaughan, Mikey Gordon; Barry Gorman, Niall Murphy, Sean Carrabine. 

**Subs: **Evan Lyons for McKenna (29), Keelan Cawley for Mullen (29), Red Og Murphy for Gorman (36), Conor Griffin for Gordon (53), Cian Lally for Cawley (61).

**REFEREE: **Paul Faloon.