By Mike Fitzpatrick
Mayo 2-19, Westput 1-9
Although he had many worthy competitors, Mayo’s Maurice Sheridan was by far the most outstanding player on the pitch on Sunday at Gaelic Park. In scoring a magnificent 10 points, Sheridan not only caused havoc with the Westput backline, but he also proved himself to be thoroughly unselfish in all other aspects of the game. Whether it was running toward goal, only to be fouled, and scoring the resulting free kick, or cleverly passing among his teammates, Sheridan proved himself to be a tremendous team player and a fine individual footballer.
The opening minutes of the game, however, suggested that an evenly contested game was on the cards. Colin Burke opened the scoring for Mayo after some midfield artistry from midfielder Niall Cogan, only for Westput to equalize immediately through Phil Connolly, who also played out of his skin today. Danny Leavy scored a second for Westput after some good work from the Westput forward line, but aside from a few occasional points from Shane Murtagh and Conor Muldoon, Mayo stepped up a few gears.
Sheridan really came into his own with four points, and Marshall McAdoo punched over a good point from close range after Westput’s Tommy Feighery had done well to save a goal-bound effort from David Slevin. Slevin, as if to prove that Mayo were not too reliant on scoring machine Sheridan, conveyed some excellent skill in grabbing the ball from the Westput backs after they had tried to pass their way out of trouble to grab an excellent point seemingly out of nowhere.
Westput halfbacks Mark Diamond and Mike Deere bravely pushed forward in numerous counter attacks, and Deere had a goal-bound shot blocked by the greedy Mayo backline. Connolly continued his assault on the Mayo goal only to see a goal-bound shot stopped on the line, only for his teammate Kevin McManus to pop up in the right place at the right time to punch the ball home for Westput’s only goal. McManus’s delightful cheers could probably be heard in Arizona, much was his satisfaction. Colm McMenaman came on for Mayo and scored a point followed quickly afterward by a well-taken goal rifled in from about 10 yards out. Mayo’s goalkeeper kept Westput’s Muldoon from scoring a consolation goal in the closing stages of the game, only to do it again minutes later from the same player. James Prenty capped another fine personal performance for Mayo with an excellent goal and another point to finally put the game well beyond the reaches of Westput.
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Mayo lineout and scorers: Dermot Fleming, Denis Curtin, Tom Maher, David Hyland, Anthony McDermott, Tom Burke, John Browne, Niall Cogan, James Prenty (1-1), Willie Dempsey, Colin Burke (0-3), Ollie Flynn, David Slevin (0-1), Marshall McAdoo (0-3), Maurice Sheridan (0-10). Subs Colm McManaman (1-1), Mike Ruane, Seamus Burke.
Westput: Tommy Feighery, Shane Murtagh (0-1), Sean Burke, Mike Burke, Peter McCormack, Mark Diamond, Mike Deere, Mike Conway, John Higgins (0-1), Jimmy Burke, Conor Muldoon (0-1), Phil Connolly (0-4), Kevin McManus (1-0), Danny Leavy (0-2), Kieran Cullinane.