Friday 15 December 2017

Brave effort just falls short

Sligo Under 21 hurlers produced a brave performance against a strong Mayo team in the Connacht semi-final at Markievicz Park last Wednesday before bowing out by a slender margin.

Sligo Under 21 hurlers produced a brave performance against a strong Mayo team in the Connacht semi-final at Markievicz Park last Wednesday before bowing out by a slender margin.

The early loss in the 3rd minute of experienced wing back Mickey O'Rourke through injury unsettled the Sligo backs but when they recovered they matched their opponents in a very competitive, tight and entertaining game.

Sligo minor Gerard O'Kelly-Lynch was prominent at centre-field and following a narrow wide from distance in the 9th minute he pointed a free a minute later as the Sligo full forward line tested their opponents with skill and determination that lead to a number of chances from frees. O'Kelly-Lynch fired over an excellent score from play under pressure of the tackle in the 11th minute to narrow the gap to a point. Sligo raised their game and some tight defending and skilful challenges lead to Mayo hitting wides until their captain Sean Regan lobbed over a point in the 17th minute to make it 0-4 to 0-2 for the visitors.

In the 20th minute some prolonged Sligo pressure resulted in Mayo's concession of a penalty as Kevin Gilmartin was brought down inside the square during a direct solo run towards the goals. Captain Gary Cadden stepped up and fired in the roof of the net to give Sligo a deserved lead. Sean Regan pointed from a long range free on 23rd minute but this was more than matched by the conversion of two frees by Gary Cadden to extend the Sligo lead to two points by the 25th minute (1-4 to 0-5).

However Mayo responded and in the remaining 5 minutes of the half they added two points to tie the game at the break. The second half was a tight affair with the turning point occurring in the 34th minute when a long Sean Regan clearance deceived the on-rushing Sligo back line who failed to clear their lines and corner forward Robert Comer latched onto the loose sliotar to hammer past Sligo keeper Eoin McDonagh and give the visitors a three point lead. Gary Cadden responded a minute later with a well taken free and a succession of scorable wides from both teams ensued before Mayo wing forward Fergal Boland finished off a fine move as he fired over the first of three second half points from the right wing after41 mins of play. Centre forward Arthur O Suileabhain got on the scoresheet with a snappy point to ensure all the Mayo forwards scored from play, one of the main differences between the teams.

Sligo kept in touch as Gerard O'Kelly-Lynch sent over two frees to reduce the gap to 3 points after 45mins of play (1-9 to 1-6). Fergal Boland fired over another point from around the 45m line to finish off a stylish Mayo attack, but in the 48th minute Sligo set up a grandstand finish as a massive clearance from full back Cathal Murphy was expertly flicked into the net by Kevin Gilmartin This reduced the deficit to a one point game but Regan and Shane Boland fired over from a tight angle to restore Mayo's lead to three points.

However some solid Sligo defending and excellent clearances from Davey, Murphy and sub Tom Mahon resulted in two points from placed balls by Sligo captain and full forward Gary Cadden that gave the hosts some hope as the game neared its conclusion. This meant a one point game in injury time, but it was Mayo, to Sligo's dismay, that had the final say when Fergal Boland capped a fine second half performance with an excellent score.

Sligo Champion

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