It was worth the wait. Mayo, the last team in the land to enter the championship, were finally let loose from the starting blocks and took off at quite a pace. Leitrim just couldn’t keep up and by the end they were beaten by 4-20 to 0-10 at McHale Park. It was that comprehensive, and while the visitors were competitive for long spells of the first half, even at that the result was hardly any great surprise.
Mayo wore down the opposition across the first half with the jab and it was only after the break they left their lightweight opponents floored courtesy of a barrage of hefty blows. Indeed, if this is their wake-up call for summer, it was little more than them sitting up in bed, wiping the sleep from their eyes and taking a lazy look around. It won’t be as easy again for the rest of the season and you wonder will the lack of stress-testing suit Sligo come Connacht final day.
But to the semi-final and Leitrim were actually level after 15 minutes at three points a piece. It should have been double scores as Ray Cox missed a wonderful opening, crafted by James Glancy but his side were punished at the other end as Alan Freeman rounded Cathal McCrann and finished to the net.
Yet still Leitrim plugged away and just short of the break the scoreboard read 1-7 to 0-7 but it was then that Donal Vaughan was allowed saunter up field, Colin Clarke was allowed find Andy Moran and there was a second goal. By half-time a game that had been well-contested was as good as over at 2-9 to 0-7.
The gap had grown to 13 by the time Andy Moran hit home his second and his sides third goal midway through the second period. Fabian McMorrow was dismissed after picking up a second yellow for Leitrim but it made no difference at that stage, and neither did Kevin McLaughlin’s late goal after preparatory work by Alan Dillon and substitute Conor Mortimer.
A gentle start to the summer for Mayo. Now their real season begins.