Electric Ireland MFC: Mayo prevail in a shootout
Electric Ireland All-Ireland Minor Football quarter-final
MAYO 3-18 KILDARE 3-12
Kevin Egan at O’Connor Park
On a weekend when three teams secured their place in the semi-finals of the Electric Ireland All-Ireland Minor Football championship with tallies of 0-12, 0-10 and 0-8, Mayo and Kildare delivered a thoroughly entertaining shootout this afternoon in Tullamore, with the Connacht champions eventually prevailing by six points.
Mayo looked comfortable going into the last five minutes of the game with an eleven-point lead behind them, but goals from Eoin Cully and Ben Loakman (a penalty) hinted at the possibility of a dramatic late comeback.
The Lily Whites threw everything they had at Mayo to try and force a positive result, but with the wind blowing strongly behind the westerners, they were able to break clear at pace and clinch the win through late points from their leading scorers, Ronan Clarke and Niall Hurley.
The foundations for the victory were laid in the first half, when Mayo were comfortably the better team and made it count on the scoreboard, taking a 3-5 to 1-7 lead into the dressing room despite playing into a very strong breeze.
They started well and took an early 1-3 to 0-2 lead, their goal coming from Niall Hurley, but in the space of six minutes Kildare fired 1-4 without reply to completely change the game. James Harris set up Ben Loakman for their goal, Joey Cunningham clipped over two good scores from distance, and a narrow lead for the Lily Whites would have left the game finely poised.
That all changed when Mayo hit the net twice in the space of a minute, first when Hurley held possession for an age before floating a handpass over the defence to allow Clarke to toe poke the ball into the bottom corner, and then again when Diarmuid Duffy set up Hurley from close range.
With the wind at their backs and strong control of the turnover battle at midfield and half back, Mayo racked up the scores in the second half, particularly after the introduction of Oliver Armstrong, who kicked four superb points. When fellow substitute Zac Collins got in on the action, taking a pass from Paul Gilmore and whipping over another to make it 3-15 to 1-10 with six minutes remaining, it looked like Mayo were set to coast home and pick up a handy win.
However, as the senior footballers of these counties proved just last night, it wouldn’t be Mayo or Kildare football without more than a little drama, and sure enough, two Kildare goals ensured that no-one was leaving their seat until Barry Tiernan sounded his final whistle.
Scorers for Mayo: Niall Hurley 2-4 (0-1m), Ronan Clarke 1-6 (0-4f), Oliver Armstrong 0-4, Luke Feeney 0-1, James Maheady 0-1, Dara Hurley 0-1, Zac Collins 0-1.
Scorers for Kildare: Ben Loakman 2-2 (1-0 pen, 0-1f), Eoin Cully 1-4 (0-1m), Joey Cunningham 0-2, Killian Browne 0-1f, Ryan Sinkey 0-1, Ben Ryan 0-1, DJ Percival 0-1.
Mayo: David Dolan; Rio Mortimer, John MacMonagle, Lorcan Silke; Liam Maloney, Colm McHale, Paul Gilmore; Jack Keane, Luke Feeney; James Maheady, Dara Hurley, Diarmuid Duffy; Cathal Keaveney, Ronan Clarke, Niall Hurley.
Subs: Oliver Armstrong for Keane (38), Zac Collins for Maheady (46), Dylan Gallagher for D Hurley (50), Seán O’Dowd for Gallagher (59), Conor Kelly for McHale (60+6)
Kildare: Fintan Quinn; Niall Cramer, Evan O'Brien, Jamie McGuirk; Ross Harris, Eoin Lawlor, Ben Ryan; James Harris, Ryan Sinkey; Cormac O'Sullivan, Joey Cunningham, Ryan Rainey; Ben Loakman, Killian Browne, Eoin Cully.
Subs: Cian O’Reilly for O’Sullivan (half-time), DJ Percival for Rainey (41), Joe Hanamy for Cunningham (46), Daniel Hamill for Ryan (56), Cillian Geraghty for Browne (56).
Referee: Barry Tiernan (Dublin)