Sligo players celebrating at Markievicz Park.
Sligo players celebrating at Markievicz Park.

EirGrid Connacht U20 Final: Historic win for Sligo

EirGrid Connacht Under 20 Football Championship Final

Sligo 4-4 Mayo 1-12

By Colm Gannon at Markievicz Park

Sligo claimed their first ever Connacht title at either the old u21 or current u20 grade.

The Yeats men looked to be on the floor and waiting for the count out as they trailed Mayo by five points and were down to 14 men with less than 10 minutes to go, but a dramatic finish unfolded.

After trailing at the break by one, Mayo had pushed themselves into what looked like a winning position when Paddy Heneghan stuck for the their only goal of the game.

But Sligo who found the net twice in both halves were about to rally. Eoghan Smith rattled their third goal of the evening to bring them back into the game, when he collected a ball that was broken down in the danger area after a sideline was pumped.

He then hammered over a free from long range to cut the gap back to single point and the home crowd were in full voice behind their men.

Mayo seemed to have calmed their nerves when Niall Treacy got their 12th point of the day with three minutes left on the clock.

From the very next play the ball was worked to the Mayo 45m line and Jack Lavin pumped in ball to the danger area, the Mayo goalkeeper Brian O’Flaherty misjudged the flight of the ball and it ended up in the back of the net.

Sligo had led this one by a single point at the half time break, thanks to two goals from Jack Davitt.

His strikes in the 12th and 22nd minute and a number of wides for Mayo saw the Yeats men hold a narrow advantage on a score of 2-3 to 0-8 at the turn around.

Sligo were two to the good early doors thanks to points from Lee Duignan and James Donlon. Mayo levelled it up through points off the boot of Jack Fallon and Rory Morrin - before Davitt got his first goal 12 minutes in, he finished brilliantly to the net after being found by Duignan and then swapping passes with Matt Henry.

Mayo managed to reel off three points to level it up before Davitt got in for his second eight minutes form the break, he was picked out by a fineDuignan pass, broke for goal, threw a dummy and finished calmly to raise the green flag.

The visitors did find some form in front of the posts and some long range points from Paddy Heneghan, Frank Irwin and Tom Flaherty had them level as half time approached. But a late James Donlon point had Sligo in front at the short whistle.

After the restart Sligo demonstrated real character to secure a memorable victory.

Scores for Sligo: Jack Davitt (2-0), Eoghan Smith (1-1, 1f), Jack Lavin (1-0), James Donlon (0-2), Lee Duignan (0-1).

Scorers for Mayo: Paddy Heneghan (1-3, 1f), Frank Irwin (0-4, 3f), Rory Morrin (0-2), Jack Fallon (0-1), Tom O’Flaherty (0-1), Niall Tracey (0-1).

Sligo: Kyle Davey, Shane Molloy, Mark McGowan, Feidhlim O’Donnell; James Donlon, Jack Lavin, Conor Johnston; Canice Mulligan, Joseph Keaney; Matt Henry, Eoghan Smith, Dylan Walsh; Luke Marren, Lee Duignan, Jack Davitt.

Subs: Ciaran O’Reilly for O’Donnell (BS), Brian Byrne for Donlon, Oisin Flynn for Henry, Oisin Gorman for Duignan, Gavin Duffy for Marren, Luke Casserly for O’Donnell.

Mayo: Bryan O’Flaherty; Alife Morrison, Ruairi Keane, Conal Dawson; Fenton Kelly, Donnacha McHugh, Aiden Cosgrove; Frank Irwin, Jack Fallon; Tom O’Flaherty, Dylan Thornton, Sean Morahan; Rory Morrin, Paddy Heneghan, Cian O’Connell.

Subs: Cian McHale for O’Connell, Conor Reid for Morrin, Bob Tuohy for Dawson, Niall Tracey for Fallon.

Referee: Paddy Neilan (Roscommon)