Mayo 2-14 Derry 2-11
Two late points from Tommy Conroy sealed Mayo’s place in next month’s inaugural All-Ireland Under-20 football final against Kildare at Croke Park.
Despite missing a penalty afer 54 minutes, when Ryan O’Donoghue had his effort saved by Derry goalkeeper Oran Hartin, Mayo finished strongly to deservedly beat the Ulster champions in Carrick-on-Shannon.
The winners also lost Cathal Horan and Nathan Moran to black cards in the closing stages of a dramatic second half, but Derry were unable to find the goal they needed to snatch a draw.
Mickey Donnelly’s side looked to be taking the initiative early in the second half when points from Lorcan McWilliams, Ben McCarron and Mark McGrogan eased them into a 2-06 to 1-08 lead.
However, the Oakleafers were rocked back on their heels in the 40th minute when Mayo wing-back Paul Lambert goaled after an incisive attack.
The winners led from there to the finish with man of the match Oisín McLaughlin and substitute John Gallagher landing crucial points to keep Derry at arm’s length.
Michael Solan’s Mayo led at the end of an exciting first half by a single point, 1-07 to 2-03, after midfielder Evan O’Brien had curled over the lead score in the 29th minute.
The Westerners had also hit the ground running thanks to a well-taken goal from captain, Ryan O’Donoghue, who ghosted in behind the Derry defence to hit the net after only 52 seconds.
However, the Ulster champions responded positively and imposing full-forward, Callum Brown, cracked in a fantastic goal after a powerful run in the 10th minute.
That score put Derry in front for the first time, 1-02 to 1-01, and set the tone for the rest of an entertaining contest.
Lambert, then levelled the match for the first time moments later before Derry pounced for their second goal.
It came when Ben McCarron pierced the Mayo cover with a driving run, and Oisin McWilliams arrived to take the pass and finish confidently past Paddy O’Malley.
However, Mickey Donnelly’s team were unable to build on that goal and they were outscored in the second quarter by 0-05 to 0-01 as Mayo moved up a gear.
Ross Egan landed three frees for the Westerners with Oisín McLaughlin and the aforementioned Evan O’Brien both hitting the target from long-range.
Derry’s only response during that spell was a Lorcan McWilliam’s effort in the 18th minute as Mayo’s defence battened down the hatches.
It was a similar story in the final quarter as Derry tried in vain to engineer scores, but all they could manage in the last 20 minutes were three frees from McWilliams and a late point from Declan Cassidy.
And Mayo made sure of their victory thanks to two-fisted points in injury-time from Conroy to set up a clash with Kildare on Sunday, 5 August at Croke Park.
Mayo: P O’Malley; J Maughan, B O’Malley, J Cunnane; P Lambert (1-1), C Horan, O McLaughlin (0-2); E O’Brien (0-1), J Flynn; N Moran, R O’Donoghue (1-0), T Conroy (0-2); C Diskin, R Egan (0-5, 5fs), C Moran.
Sub used: J Gallagher (0-2) for C Moran (47); J Dawson for Horan (black card, 51); S Óg Tighe for N Moran (black card, 57).
Derry: O Hartin; S McKeever, C McCluskey, E Concannon; D Cassidy (0-1), P McGrogan, M Bradley; C Doherty (0-1, ’45), D Rafferty; S Downey, O McWilliams (1-0), M McGrogan (0-1); L McWilliams (0-4, 3fs), C Brown (1-0), B McCarron (0-2, 1f).
Subs used: C McShane for M Bradley (37); B Cassidy (0-1) for M McGrogan (43);
Referee: P Faloon (Down).