Sligo slaughtered as ruthless Mayo make it five in-a-row

<span style="font-family: Arial, sans-serif; ">The Aidan O'Shea experiment at full-forward reaped rewards as the Mayo man notched 4-3 against Sligo at Hyde Park</span>
The Aidan O'Shea experiment at full-forward reaped rewards as the Mayo man notched 4-3 against Sligo at Hyde Park (MARGARET MCLAUGHLIN)

Connacht Senior Football Championship final: Mayo 6-25 Sligo 2-11

MAYO pulverised Sligo to win an historic fifth successive Connacht title and in the process announce themselves as serious contenders on the All-Ireland stage.

Before an attendance of 23,196 in Hyde Park, Mayo romped to a 26-point victory against a shell-shocked Sligo side to become the first side to win five in-a-row in the province since Galway in 1960.

The mismatch bore an uncanny resemblance to the 2006 All-Ireland final when Kerry blitzed Mayo in the opening 10 minutes, but this time it was Mayo who swatted aside the opposition early.

Just as Kerry relocated Kieran Donaghy nine years ago, the key to Mayo’s latest All-Ireland bid has been the switching of a towering midfielder to full-forward.

Aidan O’Shea revelled in the space afforded him by Sligo who went man -to-man and found themselves 2-4 to 0-0 down after 10 minutes.

O’Shea saw off four different markers and scored 3-4 but was involved in numerous other Mayo scores as the lethal focal-point of his team’s attack.

Mayo joint-manager Noel Connelly attempted to play down O’Shea’s role and criticised his defence.

“We have a lot of work to do,” he said. “We could be playing Donegal next, any team that comes out of that side of the draw will be a huge test for us.

“The gap between Division One and Division Three showed today. We conceded 2-11 today and our ’keeper made two or three good saves.

“I’m very disappointed with that and we have a lot of work to do there. Being so far ahead is not an excuse, we can’t allow that to happen again.

“Winning five Connacht titles speaks for itself but we are in the All-Ireland quarter-final now and we need to push on. The Connacht medal isn’t the medal these guys are looking for.”

Sligo boss Niall Carew maintained that Mayo would have been almost impossible to stop, irrespective of what way the Yeatsmen had set up defensively.

He said: “We struggled with their pace and the intensity of their tackling. Aidan O’Shea was immense inside, we played four men on him.

“It won’t be easy to lift the players for the qualifier against Tyrone.”

Cillian O’Connor slammed home Mayo’s first goal after five minutes and Seamus O’Shea rattled the net a minute later after taking a pass from his brother.

Seamus went off after 25 minutes with an injury but expects to be fit for the quarter-final.

Further first half goals followed from Aidan O’Shea, who struck twice in one minute, in response to an excellent individual goal by Brendan Egan for Sligo. Mayo led 4-9 to 1-6 at half-time.

The champions were content to take their points until the 52nd minute when they unleashed another two-goal salvo from O’Shea and Lee Keegan.

Pat Hughes replied with another good Sligo goal after 54 minutes but Mayo’s avalanche of scores continued to the end and they finished with 11 different scorers.

Mayo: D Clarke; G Cafferkey, T Cunniffe, K Higgins; L Keegan (1-0), D Vaughan (0-2), C Boyle; S O’Shea (1-0), T Parsons; D O’Connor (0-4), A O’Shea (3-4), C O’Connor (1-7, 0-4 frees, 0-1 45), K McLoughlin; A Moran, A O’Shea, J Doherty (0-3). 

Subs: B Moran (0-1) for S O’Shea, A Dillon (0-1) for Moran (ht), B Harrison for Cafferkey (45), M Ronaldson (0-2) for McLoughlin (51), P Durcan (0-1) for Keegan (53), C Barrett for Boyle (61) 

Sligo: A Devaney; R Donovan, K McDonnell, D Maye; K Cawley, B Egan (1-0), E Flanagan; C Breheny (0-1), N Murphy (0-1); B Curran, M Breheny (0-4, 0-2 frees), N Ewing (0-1); D Kelly, P Hughes (1-0), A Marren (0-3). 

Subs: S Gilmartin for Murphy (44), C Davey for Ewing (50), E McHugh (0-1) for C Breheny (56), J Hynes for Egan (black card, 56), N Gaughan for Cawley (60), L Bree for McDonnell (65)