O'Connor class helps Mayo see off Faithful
Skipper Cillian O'Connor led the way as Mayo finally saw off a brave Offaly challenge on Saturday.
Mayo remain on course to make it a case of third time lucky, having lost the last two All-Ireland finals, but they will need to show an improvement from this display at Hyde Park in Roscommon if they are to bring some badly needed cheer to the county.
Once again it was their captain O'Connor who guided them across the finishing line with another spectacular haul of points. The St Gerald's, Castlebar, colleges star shot nine points as their bid for their first All-Ireland minor football title in 25 years remains on track.
But Mayo were in trouble going into the closing stages and had to come with a renewed push before seeing off the Offaly challenge. O'Connor took control of the game and four points in the last eight minutes saw the Connacht champions safely through to a semi-final encounter with Tyrone.
A Jack McDonnell goal after eight minutes gave Mayo a solid start, but a determined Offaly performance in the opening half was crowned when Noel Andrew Graham fired home a goal to send Offaly in 1-8 to 1-6 ahead at the break. It remained close throughout the second half but then O'Connor's class became the decisive factor in the end.
"Thankfully we came good late in the game but we have a lot to do before we can look to an All-Ireland semi-final," said Mayo manager Tony Duffy. "Tyrone had a huge win today and if we play like this, it will not be good enough."
Scorers -- Mayo: C O'Connor 0-9 (0-5f), J McDonnell 1-1, S Kelly, D Coen 0-2 each. Offaly: N A Graham 1-3 (0-3f), P Cunningham, P McPadden, S Cullen 0-2 each, P Camon, J Brickland, J O'Connor 0-1 each.
Mayo -- P Mannion; B Harrison, N Freeman, C Twomey; R Quirke, C Walsh, C Horan; D Kirby, S McGarry; F Durkan, M Forde, S Kelly; J McDonnell, D Coen, C O'Connor. Subs: M Regan for Horan (20), J Shuaghnessy for Durkan (47), C O'Shea for McGarry (49), C Costello for McDonnell (55).
Offaly -- M Carragher; C Lowry, E Rigney, C Donohoe; S Hannon, D Hogan, J O'Connor; N A Graham, D Kelly; P Cunningham, P Camon, J Flattery; P McPadden, S Cullen, B Cushen. Subs: J Brickland for Cushen (26), T Mooney for Hannon (48), J Gethings for Flaherty (58).
Ref -- P O'Sullivan (Kerry).