Many Mayo supporters are beginning to dream of Croke Park yet again as their footballers outlined their credentials for the year ahead with a stunning performance which was enough to see off an Armagh side who three weeks ago had gone down to Tralee and given Kerry a lesson in football.
However, this is the league and it is still early in the season, and Mayo supporters would do well to remember the past and it would not be the first time that Mayo have looked like world beaters in the Spring before struggling badly come the summer time.
Mayo have often been accused of having a soft underbelly and in recent years, they have struggled for leaders when the tide has turned against them. This is certainly something that will have occupied the mind of James Horan over the winter months and it looks as if he may have gone some way to solving that particular problem as Aidan O’Shea was phenomenal at midfield and it looks as if Horan has finally found the position that suits this talented youngster the most.
Mayo were certainly aided by the whirlwind start they enjoyed to this game with Andy Moran illustrating his return to full fitness by being the first to react when Enda Varley kept David Clarke’s badly struck 45 in play. Moran’s goal helped Mayo into a 1-4 to 0-0 after 9 minutes but they then went into their shell for a period and allowed the home side back into the game.
With Brian Mallon and Gavin McParland leading the charge, Armagh fought back into the game but with Conor Mortimer hitting the target, the Connacht champions were able to keep them at arms length. Armagh came with another charge late in the half and two points from Aidan Forker left them trailing by just four points at the break on a scoreline of 1-7 to 0-6.
Unfortunately for Armagh, mayo began the second half in a similar mode to the one in which they have started the first. Two brilliant scores from Mortimer and one from galloping wing-back, Lee Keegan reasserted Mayo’s dominance in this game.
By the end of the third quarter, Mayo held a 1-11 to 0-6 lead and it looked as if the game was well and truly up for the home side. Despite two points from substitute, Colm Watters Mayo were never really in any danger of losing this game and in injury time, the westerners added on three more points which were shared between Varley and Alan Freeman to seal a memorable victory for James Horan’s charges.