No joy for Sligo in Castlebar, as Mayo goals prove the difference

Sligo’s punishing championship schedule and heavy injury list proved detrimental as last year’s beaten All-Ireland finalists Mayo advanced to face Galway in the semi-finals of the Connacht Senior Football Championship.

With Niall Murphy not fit enough to start as he continues his recovery from a hamstring injury, and Cian Breheny ruled out with a similar complaint, Sligo boss Niall Carew opted to start with the same fifteen that began the game in New York just 14 days ago.

That meant Pat Hughes, Adrian McIntyre, Brendan Egan and Mark Breheny all started despite carrying knocks from that match.

But Sligo, with the wind at their back in McHale Park, and with 14,664 in attendance, started brightly with a couple of fine scores from Stephen Coen complimented by a point from Adrian Marren.

Cillian O’Connor kept Mayo in touch from frees, before Breheny and Marren landed frees for the Yeats men.

They were left to rue seven first half wides, however, as Diarmuid O’Connor drove through the middle to fire low to the net close to the half-time break to put the home side in the ascendancy.

Boosted by this, Mayo led by 1-6 to 0-5 at the break, with Sligo making a first half change as David Kelly replaced Kyle Cawley.

Goalkeeper Aidan Devaney landed a 45 for Sligo’s first score of the second half, and after scores from Seamus O’Shea and Andy Moran, Patrick O’Connor clipped over Sligo’s seventh point and his first of the day.

Kevin McDonnell replaced Stephen Coen, and Niall Murphy came in for Pat Hughes soon after, as Breheny brought it back to a three-point game with a point from a free.

Gerard O’Kelly-Lynch and Stephen Gilmartin were also introduced for Sligo, before O’Connor pointed again from a free to re-open a five-point lead, only for Marren and Murpny to respond in-kind.

But O’Connor hit a quickfire 1-2 to finally end Sligo hopes in the closing minutes, and further scores from substitutes Daniel Kirby and Jason Doherty pushed the home side clear, despite Marren pointing a final time for the Yeats men.

Sligo now head for the first round of the qualifiers on Saturday, June 17.

Meanwhile, the Sligo U17 side also lost out to Mayo in the curtain-raiser.

It finished 2-19 to 0-9 in favour of the home side.