The Mayo hurlers are heading back to the Nicky Rackard final for the second successive season after overcoming a stiff test from Armagh in their semi-final meeting in Carrick on Saturday afternoon.
Mayo overturned a one-point half-time deficit to emerge with a comfortable 2-23 to 2-9 win, outscoring the Orchard men by 1-16 to 0-4 in a dominant second period to claim a fully-deserved 14 point win.
Mayo had been the better team through most of the opening 35 minutes but inaccuracy in front of the posts prevented them from making it count. They posted ten wides in the opening half, with the absence through suspension of marksman Shane Boland proving significant as Mayo left a number of scorable frees behind them.
The sides were level at 1-2 after nine minutes, a goal from the returning Cathal Freeman cancelled out by a converted penalty from Armagh goalkeeper Simon Doherty. Mayo began to get on top and were leading by two heading into half-time, courtesy of a couple of Keith Higgins frees and braces from Sean Regan and Sean Kenny.
But they were pegged back by a goal on the stroke of half-time from Armagh full-forward Fiontan Donnelly, which gave the Ulster side a slender 2-5 to 1-7 advantage at the change of ends.
But Mayo upped their game dramatically in the second period. Higgins came alive in the forward line and also tightened up on the frees; he finished with 11 points, nine of them coming in the second half. Brian Morley and Jason Coyne came off the bench to add points while an Adrian Phillips goal with the final puck of the match gave the Ballyhaunis man a personal tally of 1-3 and gave Mayo their 14-point win.
Derek Walsh’s men advance to the Rackard final, at a date to be confirmed, to take on the winners of the second semi-final between Donegal and Tyrone.