All-Ireland champions Mayo cruised into the last four of the All-Ireland Minor Football Championship at Croke Park on Sunday, comfortably defeating Armagh with an impressively display.
Enda Gilvarry’s side took control of the game just before the break, when Fionán Duffy’s goal put them four clear. Two more goals after the restart from Brian Reape put the result beyond doubt, and Mayo coasted away from there.
Mayo led 1-6 to 0-4 at half-time after a dominant first half performance which should have yielded a greater interval advantage.
The two sides traded the first four points within the opening five minutes, Oisín O’Neill and Ryan McKeown on target for Armagh, with Matthew Ruane and Gary Boylan firing over for Mayo.
Mayo began to dominate from the tenth minute on, but they only put it on the scoreboard in the closing minutes of the half as Cian Hanley became increasingly influential as the outlet ball in the Mayo attack.
It was still level, 0-4 to 0-4, after 25 minutes, but Mayo were creating lots of goal chances and it was only a matter of time before they broke through an increasingly vulnerable Armagh full-back line.
Barry Duffy’s point put Mayo ahead and it was followed by a goal from Duffy to leave the Connacht side suddenly leading by four. Hanley set up Duffy for the goal, winning possession and setting up the forward, who rounded Ryan Kearney before firing home.
Mayo took an even firmer grip of the game after the restart. Two good points from the lively Duffy put them seven ahead, and then a fine goal from Reape on 38 minutes put Mayo out of sight, the Bohola Moy Davitts teenager cutting in from the left and crashing to the roof of the net.
TJ Byrne extended the lead with a palmed score moments later, and then another sharpe Reape finish to the net had Mayo 13 points ahead at 3-9 to 0-5.
The closing 20 minutes had the feel of a challenge game, and although Armagh kept battling and reduced the deficit a little, they never really looked like getting back into the game after that decisive 10 minute spell from Mayo after the restart.
Scorers for Mayo: B Reape 2-1, F Duffy 1-2, C Hanley 0-3 (1f), M Ruane 0-1, G Boylan 0-1, B Duffy 0-1, TJ Byrne 0-1, S Conlon 0-1, C Byrne 0-1, O Horan 0-1
Scorers for Armagh: O O’Neill 0-4 (3f), R McKeown 0-1, R Hughes 0-1 (1f), J Burns 0-1, C McConville 0-1, C Grimley 0-1
MAYO: Matthew Flanagan; Conor Kilkenny, Séamus Cunniffe, Eoin O’Donoghue; Jason Forkan, Barry Duffy, Seán Conlon; Gary Walsh, Matthew Ruane; Gary Boylan, Cian Hanley, Sharoize Akram; Fionán Duffy, TJ Byrne, Brian Reape. Subs: Conor Byrne for G Boylan (39), Stephen Brennan for Kilkenny (45), David Clarke for Forkan (50), Liam Byrne for F Duffy (55), Oisín Horan for Conlon (58), Keith Hopkins for Ruane (60).
ARMAGH: Ryan Kearney; Fergus Quinn, Aidan Rushe, Cathal Donnelly; Pádraig Judge, Cathair McKinney, Conor McNicholl; Jarlath Burns, Ryan McKeown; Jack Rafferty, Oisin O’Neill, Kyle Mallon; Ryan Hughes, Shane Conlon, Caolán McConville. Subs: Conor Murphy for McKeown (HT) Cathal Boylan for Mallon (41), Conor Grimley for Conlon (41), Ciarán Higgins for P Judge (44), Conor Murphy for C McNicholl (47), P Quinn for R Hughes (55)
Referee: Paddy Neilan (Roscommon)
Report: Arthur Sullivan
Photos by John Merry