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licence to cill O'Connor turns on the style with impressive 1-9 as Mayo see off plucky Leitrim


Jordan Flynn of Mayo in action against Donal Wrynn, left, and Mark Plunkett of Leitrim

Jordan Flynn of Mayo in action against Donal Wrynn, left, and Mark Plunkett of Leitrim

Jordan Flynn of Mayo in action against Donal Wrynn, left, and Mark Plunkett of Leitrim

MAYO 2-15 LEITRIM 0-10

Mayo were pushed to the pin of their collar before eventually booking their Connacht SFC semi-final place with Cillian O’Connor firing 1-9 in a man-of-the-match display.

Leitrim fought until the bitter end in testing conditions at Avantcard Páirc Seán Mac Diarmada in Carrick-on-Shannon, but Mayo’s class told in the closing half as they secured a chance to avenge last year’s defeat to Roscommon in the last four.

Tommy Conroy’s 23rd minute goal proved crucial after a stuttering first quarter, while O’Connor also found the net in the 48th minute to see James Horan’s side safely through.

But Terry Hyland’s Leitrim charges can take some solace heading into 2021 having given as good as they got for large spells before fading late on.

The home side started like a house on fire, with Shane Quinn setting the tone for a powerful first-half display by Leitrim when outfoxing Lee Keegan and pointing inside 30 seconds.

Evan Sweeney and Domhnaill Flynn followed up with lovely scores before a Keith Beirne free left them with a handsome 0-4 to no score lead after seven minutes.

It took 11 minutes for Mayo, who were playing against a decent breeze in the opening half, to get off the mark and the influential Aidan O’Shea was the provider, as Bryan Walsh pointed before Oisín Mac Caffraigh was black carded for a foul on O’Shea.

Mayo made hay in his absence and won the subsequent 10 minutes while Mac Caffraigh was in the sin bin 1-4 to 0-1, with O’Connor firing over a brace of frees as they cut the gap to one, 0-4 to 0-3.

Beirne was again on target from a placed ball but Conroy showed composure beyond his tender years to fire Mayo ahead with an expertly-taken goal on his championship debut.

O’Connor added another point before Mac Caffraigh returned to the pitch and another two soon after, before Donal Casey blazed over from close range to cut the gap back to three points at the break, 1-6 to 0-6.

Leitrim kept it competitive upon the resumption and had the gap still at three points before O’Connor raised Mayo’s second green flag with a rocket of a shot.

The home side would manage just one point in the final 25 minutes with O’Shea and O’Connor on-song at the other end as they booked their date with the Rossies in Hyde Park next Sunday.

SCORERS – Mayo: C O’Connor 1-9 (4f, 2 ’45), T Conroy 1-0, A O’Shea 0-2, B Walsh, M Runae, J Carr, C Loftus 0-1 each. Leitrim: K Beirne 0-5f, C Dolan, S Quinn, E Sweeney, D Flynn, D Casey 0-1 each.

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MAYO – D Clarke; O Mullin, S Coen, L Keegan; P Durcan, M Plunkett, E McLaughlin; A O’Shea, M Ruane; B Walsh, R O’Donoghue, J Flynn; T Conroy, C O’Connor, C Loftus. Subs: D O’Connor for Walsh and J Carr for O’Donoghue (both 48), R Brickenden for Coen (55), C Barrett for Plunkett (61), D McHale for Ruane (64).

LEITRIM – B Flynn; C Reynolds, O Mac Caffraigh; C McGloin, P Maguire, A Flynn; D Wrynn, D Flynn; C Dolan, M Plunkett, J Gilheany; S Quinn, E Sweeney, K Beirne. Subs: K Keegan for D Flynn and Riordan O’Rouke for A Flynn (both 58), P Dolan for Sweeney (65), T Prior for Dolan (69).

REF – P Faloon (Down)

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