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Mayo through to Connacht Minor Football Final after thriller

Shane Cunningham on the charge for Mayo. 

Shane Cunningham on the charge for Mayo. 

Electric Ireland Connacht Minor Football semi-final


Ian Cooney at Hastings Insurance MacHale Park, Castlebar

A point from Tom Lydon deep into injury time propelled Mayo into the Connacht minor football final at Roscommon’s expense after a thrilling last four clash at Hastings Insurance MacHale Park.

When the sides met six weeks ago in the group stages, Mayo cruised to a 12-point victory, but Roscommon were unrecognisable from that performance and pushed the pre-match favourites all the way.

The excellent Seán McDonnell looked to have sent the game to extra time with a free to bring the sides level but up stepped Lydon, who kicked Mayo’s last three points from play, to deliver a match-defining contribution in the game’s dying embers.

There was little to choose between the sides in the opening half with Roscommon’s patience in possession contrasting with Mayo’s more direct style.

Colm Lynch and Seán McDonnell trades early scores before a hat-trick of points from Darragh Beirne, Josh Carey and Lydon (free) pushed Mayo 0-4 to 0-1 ahead after eight minutes.

Scores from centre-back Eoghan Carthy and Ruairi Kilcline narrowed the gap before Lydon’s second free of the evening left the hosts two points to the good.

But Roscommon received a major boost in the 19th minute when a long ball was controlled by Kilcline and his low drive nestled in the corner of the net.

Lydon and McDonnell swapped frees before Roscommon goalkeeper Aaron Cox did well to parry an effort from Beirne. But there was consolation for Mayo when Carey picked up the pieces to fist a score.

On the stroke of half time, however, an effort from distance by John Curran left the young Rossies 1-5 to 0-7 ahead at the break.

Roscommon pushed on in the second half with early points from McDonnell (free) and Jamie Betts.

But Mayo responded in emphatic fashion, hitting 2-1 without reply. Lydon pointed a free before Shane Cunningham’s delicious pass was flicked to the net by Darragh Beirne in the 41st minute.

When Roscommon failed to clear their lines soon afterwards, Cunningham pounced and set up Josh Carey for Mayo’s second goal to leave Seán Deane’s side five points clear and seemingly in control of their own destiny.

But Roscommon hadn’t read the script and points from Ryan Hanley and McDonnell were followed by a superbly-worked goal from Eoghan Carty to bring the sides level with six minutes remaining.

Lydon kicked two excellent points from Mayo, only for substitute Liam Naughten and McDonnell to reply for the visitors.

But there was one last twist as Lydon showed his class to split the post to leave Roscommon crestfallen at the final whistle.

Scorers for Mayo: Tom Lydon 0-7 (0-4f), Josh Carey 1-3, Darragh Beirne 1-1, Colm Lynch 0-1, Gavin Forry 0-1.

Scorers for Roscommon: Seán McDonnell 0-6 (0-4f), Eoghan Carthy 1-1, Ruairí Kilcline 1-1, John Curran 0-1, Jamie Betts 0-1, Ryan Hanley 0-1, Liam Naughten 0-1

MAYO: Conor Meaney; James Lavelle, Seanie O’Reilly, Yousif Cogill; Jamie Clarke, Rio Mortimer, Fionan O’Reilly; Tiernan Egan, Shane Cunningham; Colm Lynch, Tom Lydon, Dara Neary; Darragh Beirne, Josh Carey, Senan Guilfoyle.

Subs: Eoin McGreal for Seamie O’Reilly 34, Gavin Forry for Guilfoyle 34, Seán Walsh for Fionnan O’Reilly 39, Thomas Tuffy for Neary 51, Ryan Gibbons for Carey 55.

ROSCOMMON: Aaron Cox; Colin Murray, Nikita Berzins, Ryan Hanley; Conor Morris, Eoghan Carthy, Ruadhan Henry; Jamie Betts, David Higgins; Lee Taylor, Eoghan Murray, John McGuinness; Seán McDonnell, Ruairí Kilcline, John Curran.

Subs: Rory Coyle for Kilcline 49, Liam Naughten for Murray 55, Stephen Tighe for Morris 59.

Referee: Ronan Hynes (Sligo).