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Mayo minors advance to All-Ireland semi-final after edging out six-goal battle with Kildare

Niall Hurley hit 2-4 for the winners who will go on to face Kerry.

Mayo players rejoice at the full-time whistle.
Mayo players rejoice at the full-time whistle.
Image: Tom Maher/INPHO

Mayo 3-18

Kildare 3-12

Kevin Egan reports at O’Connor Park

IT WAS TENSE, low-scoring battles across the board in the quarter-finals of the Electric Ireland All-Ireland Minor Football championship this weekend, with the exception of the last of the four games, played this afternoon in Tullamore.

Kerry (0-8), Galway (0-10) and Derry (0-12) had all secured their place in the last four of the championship before Barry Tiernan threw the ball in for this game, but from an early stage it was clear that it was going to take a lot more to come through this contest between two very attack-minded sides.

In Ronan Clarke and Niall Hurley, Mayo had match-winners in their full forward line, as the duo combined to score 3-10 between them, 3-5 of which was from open play.

The foundations for the victory for the Connacht champions were laid in the first half, when Mayo were comfortably the better team and made it count on the scoreboard, taking a 3-5 to 1-7 lead into the dressing room despite playing into a very strong breeze.

They started well and took an early 1-3 to 0-2 lead, their goal coming from Niall Hurley, but in the space of six minutes Kildare fired 1-4 without reply to completely change the game. James Harris set up Ben Loakman for their goal, Joey Cunningham clipped over two good scores from distance, and a narrow lead for the Lily Whites would have left the game finely poised.

That all changed when Mayo hit the net twice in the space of a minute, first when Hurley held possession for an age before floating a handpass over the defence to allow Clarke to toe poke the ball into the bottom corner, and then again when Diarmuid Duffy set up Hurley from close range.

With the wind at their backs and strong control of the turnover battle at midfield and half back, Mayo racked up the scores in the second half, particularly after the introduction of Oliver Armstrong, who kicked four superb points. When fellow substitute Zac Collins got in on the action, taking a pass from Paul Gilmore and whipping over another to make it 3-15 to 1-10 with six minutes remaining, it looked like Mayo were set to coast home and pick up a handy win.

However, as the senior footballers of these counties proved just last night, it wouldn’t be Mayo or Kildare football without more than a little drama, and sure enough, two Kildare goals ensured that no-one was leaving their seat until Barry Tiernan sounded his final whistle.

It looked like too little and too late when Eoin Cully met a Killian Browne free with a decisive punch for the opening goal, but almost immediately the Lily Whites mounted another attack and saw James Harris’ attempt met with a foot block from Rio Mortimer.

Ben Loakman’s penalty was accurate and emphatic, and so there was plenty of tension throughout the closing minutes. However while Kildare enjoyed plenty of possession, they remained vulnerable in defence and late breakaway scores from Hurley and Clarke were enough to see Mayo over the line and into a semi-final clash with Kerry.

Scorers for Mayo: Niall Hurley 2-4 (0-1m), Ronan Clarke 1-6 (0-4f), Oliver Armstrong 0-4, Luke Feeney 0-1, James Maheady 0-1, Dara Hurley 0-1, Zac Collins 0-1.

Scorers for Kildare: Ben Loakman 2-2 (1-0 pen, 0-1f), Eoin Cully 1-4 (0-1m), Joey Cunningham 0-2, Killian Browne 0-1f, Ryan Sinkey 0-1, Ben Ryan 0-1, DJ Percival 0-1.

Mayo

1 David Dolan (Balla)

2 Rio Mortimer (Claremorris), 3 John MacMonagle (Castlebar Mitchels), 4 Lorcan Silke (Westport)

5 Liam Maloney (Cill Chomain), 6 Colm McHale (Bohola Moy Davitts), 7 Paul Gilmore (Claremorris)

8 Jack Keane (Hollymount/Carramore), 9 Luke Feeney (Ballina Stephenites)

10 James Maheady (Crossmolina), 11 Dara Hurley (Claremorris), 12 Diarmuid Duffy (Ballinrobe),

13 Cathal Keaveney (Parke Keelogues Crimlin), 14 Ronan Clarke (Bohola Moy Davitts), 15 Niall Hurley (Claremorris)

Subs: Oliver Armstrong (Knockmore) for Keane (38), Zac Collins (Islandeady) for Maheady (46), Dylan Gallagher (Davitts) for D Hurley (50), Seán O’Dowd (Kilmovee) for Gallagher (59), Conor Kelly (Kilmeena) for McHale (60+6).

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Kildare

1 Fintan Quinn (Naas)

2 Niall Cramer (Raheens), 22 Evan O’Brien (Naas), 5 Jamie McGuirk (Naas)

24 Ross Harris (Castlemitchell), 3 Eoin Lawlor (Naas), 4 Ben Ryan (Round Towers)

6 James Harris (Castlemitchell), 8 Ryan Sinkey (Naas)

19 Cormac O’Sullivan (Celbridge), 7 Joey Cunningham (Allenwood), 9 Ryan Rainey (Johnstownbridge)

11 Ben Loakman (Sarsfields), 14 Killian Browne (Celbridge), 10 Eoin Cully (Carbury)

Subs: Cian O’Reilly (Raheens) for O’Sullivan (half-time), DJ Percival (Robertstown) for Rainey (41), Joe Hanamy (St. Laurence’s) for Cunningham (46), Daniel Hamill (Raheens) for Ryan (56), Cillian Geraghty (Maynooth) for Browne (56).

Referee: Barry Tiernan (Dublin)

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About the author:

Kevin Egan

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