Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Connacht Senior Hurling League

SLIGO 1-32 MAYO 1-23

Kevin Egan at the NUI Galway Connacht GAA Airdome

An under-strength Mayo side gave Sligo plenty to think about for long stretches of last night’s Connacht Senior Hurling League clash at the NUI Galway Connacht GAA Airdome.

Ultimately Sligo’s greater experience, scoring power and depth off the bench took a toll in the final quarter, when Pádraig Mannion’s side kicked on to outscore Mayo by 1-12 to 0-5 and secure their place in next Saturday evening’s final at the same venue. 

It was a similarly one-sided story in the first quarter when Sligo responded to Adrian Phillips’ opening score with a run of seven points in a row, eventually moving 0-10 to 0-2 in front after 12 minutes, with all ten scores coming from play. Seven different players got on the scoresheet in that period for the men in black, but over time a pattern grew where the bulk of the scoring was done by three players – Gerard O’Kelly-Lynch and the Galway duo of Patrick Foley and Conor Hanniffy. 

Mayo got a crucial break just before the first half water break when Brian Peoples crept in behind the Sligo full back line and drove a low shot past Matt Davey, and that was to be the catalyst for a real purple patch for the county. Keith Higgins, James Gallagher, James Lyons and Ryan Butler all got their name on the scoresheet with some excellent points as Mayo first drew level and then crept in front by the bare minimum at the interval, 1-12 to 0-14. 

That trend continued after half time and at one stage Mayo’s lead was out to four points at 1-17 to 0-16, but the absence of their Tooreen contingent was to take a toll. While Sligo brought several players off the bench that added energy and impetus in what was a contest played at an incredibly fast pace, Mayo manager Derek Walsh was without 18 players from the Connacht Intermediate club champions and as he emptied the bench, Sligo grew more and more dominant. 

Gerard O’Kelly-Lynch whipped in a goal just at the start of the final quarter and the Yeats County never looked back. Hanniffy and Foley added yet more classy points from open play as Mayo visibly tired, with Rory McHugh also very influential as he tacked on three outstanding points in a strong second half cameo. 

Sligo now advance to meet the winner of tomorrow’s contest between Leitrim and Roscommon in the league final, with Mayo taking on the loser of that fixture in a Shield decider.  

Scorers – Sligo: Gerard O’Kelly-Lynch 1-10 (4f, 1 ‘65), Patrick Foley 0-7, Conor Hanniffy 0-5, Michael Munnelly and Rory McHugh 0-3 each, Mark Hanniffy, Finnian Cawley, Thomas Cawley and Kevin Gilmartin 0-1 each. Mayo: Adrian Phillips 0-6 (1f), James Lyons and Ryan Butler 0-4 each, Brian Peoples 1-0, Keith Higgins 0-3 (1f), James Gallagher 0-3 (2f), Alan Ferguson and Eoghan McGrath 0-1 each.

Sligo: Matt Davey; Kevin O’Kennedy, Niall Feehily, Darragh Cawley; Gavin Connolly, Mark Hanniffy, Fionn Connolly;  Finnian Cawley; Conor Hanniffy, Gerard O’Kelly-Lynch, Michael Munnelly; Donal Hanley, Thomas Cawley, Kevin Gilmartin.

Subs: Rory McHugh (on for Hanley h-t), Niall Kilcullen (on for D Cawley 43), Tony O’Kelly-Lynch (on for T Cawley 50), Liam O’Kelly-Lynch (on for Gilmartin 53), Ronan Molloy (on for Connolly 65), Rúairí Brennan (on for G O’Kelly Lynch 68), Ronan Redmond (on  for O’Kennedy 70), Arthur Wall (on for C Hanniffy 70+2). 

Mayo: Barry Lane; Adrian Brennan, James Lowe, Conor Murray; Jack Trench, Keith Higgins, Michael Gallagher; Kieran McDermott, James Lyons; Paul Kirwan, Adrian Phillips, Aaron Ketterick; Brian Peoples, Ryan Butler, James Gallagher. 

Subs: Keelan Gallagher (on for Peoples h-t), Matthew Walsh (on for Ketterick h-t), Darren Murray (on for Gallagher 56), Nicky Carolan (on for Butler 56), Alan Ferguson (on for K Gallagher 56), Niall Hurley (on for M Gallagher 58), Eoghan McGrath (on for Kirwan 61), Paul Kirwan (on for Murray 70+2). 

REF – Matthew Farrell (Roscommon).

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