MAYO justified their billing as Connacht favourites in Castlebar yesterday, taking Leitrim apart on a merciless scoreline of 4-20 to 0-10 to qualify for a provincial final meeting with Sligo.
The defending champions had spent eight weeks idle since the league final, but there was no lack of sharpness from James Horan's men as they ruthlessly put 22 points between themselves and Leitrim in front of 14,398 spectators.
Scoring a total of 4-14 from play and with 13 different scorers, Leitrim were totally outclassed, a fact recognised by co-manager George Dugdale afterwards.
"We competed really well in the first half until two or three lapses in concentration yielded overlaps and goals and that killed us," said the former Leitrim senior footballer.
"But that's the difference between Division 1 and Division 4 and it doesn't reflect the huge effort that the lads have put in over the past year.
"It is something the hierarchy are going to have to look at," he admitted.
"A decent second-tier championship, played on All-Ireland final day along- side the premier competition, may be something to look at for teams similar to Leitrim because, being realistic, there's only seven or eight teams who have a real chance of winning the All-Ireland.
"The rest have little or no chance but because there's so much time and money invested and players put in so much effort, two games in the height of the summer is little return for all your efforts."
First-half goals from Alan Freeman and Andy Moran eased Mayo into a 2-9 to 0-7 lead by the interval and the Leitrim challenge collapsed completely in the second period.
Goals from Andy Moran and Kevin McLoughlin killed the contest completely as large numbers of spectators left well before the final whistle.
"You look up at the scoreboard," reflected Letrim's Enda Williams, "and you're losing by 10 or 15 points. Next thing they bring on Conor Mortimer and Ronan McGarrity, and you're sort of saying to yourself, 'What are you at here'?"