Connacht U21FC: Mayo bridge seven-year gap

March 19, 2016

Pairc Sean Mac Diarmada, Carrick-on-Shannon.
©INPHO/James Crombie.

Mayo 4-12

Leitrim 0-15

Mayo are through to their first Connacht U21FC final since 2009 thanks to a nine-point victory over Leitrim in Carrick-on-Shannon.

The visitors' goal-scoring ability proved decisive as they recovered from a slow start to win their way through to the final against Roscommon. Brian Reape found the net twice in a man of the match performance to kill off the home side's stubborn resistance.

Backboned by members of the 2013 All-Ireland minor winning team, Mayo were put on the back-foot by early Leitrim points from Pearce Dolan, Conor Gaffney (free) and Kenny Cox. But after Reape eventually opened their account in the seventh minute, the green and reds added quick points per Conor Loftus, Fergal Boland and Fionan Duffy to lead by 0-4 to 0-3 after 12 minutes.

A brace of Daire Farrell scores had the underdogs back in front at the end of the opening quarter, but goals from Reape and senior star Diarmuid O'Connor (penalty) in the 21st and 26th minutes gave Mayo a flattering 2-5 to 0-7 interval lead.

The visitors tightened their grip on proceedings when Duffy grabbed their third goal in the 36th minute. When Reape raised his second green flag midway through the second half, they extended their lead to 4-10 to 0-7, but Leitrim never gave up and finished with a flurry of points from Gaffney, Ryan O'Rourke and Dolan to leave nine in it at the finish.

Mayo - M Flanagan; C Harrison, S Cunniffe, E Doran; D Kenny, M Hall, J Kelly; V Roughneen, S Coen; F Boland (0-2), C Loftus (0-4, 1f), D O'Connor (1-0pen); M Plunkett, B Reape (2-3), F Duffy (1-2, 0-1f). Subs: M Ruane (0-1) for V Roughneen, S Akram for J Kelly, E O'Donoghue for M Hall, J Lyons for C Loftus, TJ Byrne for D O'Connor, M Murray for S Coen.

Leitrim - D McKiernan; K McHugh, E Fowley, J Mitchell; C Cullen, F McTague, K Keegan; D McGovern, P Dolan (0-3); K Cox (0-1), C Gaffney (0-7, 6f), D Farrell (0-2); J Heslin (0-1), C McCauley, R O'Rourke (0-1). Subs: L Ryan for J Mitchell, C Dolan for C McCauley, O Madden for D McGovern, D Byrne for D Farrell.

Referee - J Gilmartin.

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