Taller, faster, stronger.
London’s big men ran into the modern-day Division One footballer here in Castlebar: quick and conditioned to the point of athletic excellence. Not at their best – and on the way to shooting 19 wides – Mayo still had far too much for the outsiders in this Connacht final.
Considering they scored just one point from play in the first half, London would not have been overly forlorn to go to the break seven points down, 2-6 to 0-5. Mayo’s erratic shooting – they kicked 12 wides – contributed to their not being out of sight at this stage.
London, though, could have been closer had they raised a green flag in the first half. They had an early opportunity after a sweeping move in which the excellent Damien Dunleavy was heavily involved. The attack, though, faded when Paul Geraghty was crowded out.
London did have the ball in the net after 17 minutes when Eoin O’Neill punched the ball into the goal, with Mayo stopper Rob Hennelly sent the same way due to the corner forward’s momentum. The score was disallowed, more due to aesthetics than rules – we are not aware of a law prohibiting attackers from challenging goalkeepers and knocking the ball from their hands.
At the other end, Mayo goaled through Alan Freeman on 10 minutes after Shane Mulligan was turned over in possession. The finish was emphatic.
London had reason to feel hard done by for Mayo’s second goal. Dunleavy seemed to be fouled twice in being tackled at midfield. The move culminated in Alan Freeman and Richie Feeney combining to set up Darren Coen who slotted home.
Mayo stepped up a level in the second half. Substitute Cian O’Connor banged in 3-3 as James Horan’s men stretched their lead on the way to posting a final total of 5-11.
London again struggled to score from play, only Lorcan Mulvey and substitute Padriag McGoldrick managed that feat with the game long since up in the final five minutes.
Mulvey, though, was accurate from frees – as well as being a handful for the green and red from the first minute to the last – and ensured that London at least beat the bookie’s handicap of 18 points.
Ultimately, this was a somewhat deflating culmination to an invigorating Connacht run for London. They met their match and more in the West. Yet few who witnessed the run to this point stage – against Sligo and Leitrim – will forget what they have done. It’s not the end, just the end of the beginning.
Full match report, analysis, interviews and pictures in next week’s Irish Post (out Wednesday, July 24)
LONDON: Declan Traynor; Philip Butler, Stephen Curran, David McGreevy; Seamus Hannon, Shane Mulligan, Tony Gaughan; Caolan Doyle, Paul Geraghty; Greg Crowley, Damien Dunleavy (0-1), Ciaran McCallion; Eoin O’Nill, Lorcan Mulvey (0-7, 6f), Cathal Magee. Cathal Greene for Gaughan, Colin Daly for Doyle, Sean Kelly (0-1f) for O’Neill, Barry Mitchell for McCallion, Padraig McGoldrick (0-1) for Dunleavy
MAYO: Rob Hennelly; Tom Cunniffe, Ger Cafferkey, Chros Barrett; Lee Keegan (0-2), Keith Higgins, Colm Boyle; Aidan O’Shea, Seamus O’Shea; Kevin McLoughlin (0-2, 1f), Alan Dillon, Richie Feeney (0-1); Andy Moran (0-1), Alan Freeman (1-2), Darren Coen (1-0). Subs: Cillian O’Connor 3-3, 1-0p, 3f) for Coen, Michael Conway for Feeney, Enda Varley for Moran, Shane McHale for Cafferky
Ref: Conor Lane (Cork)