By Patrick Sharkey in Ballyboffey,
A goal and three points from forward Ryan O’Donoghue, and some crucial saves from keeper Colm Reape, helped Mayo to an 11-point victory over Donegal at MacCumhail Park in this Allianz National Football League Division One clash, with the away side winning by 1-17 to 0-9. Donegal did give a good account of themselves in midfield with Jason McGee who ran his legs off, punched holes in the defense, and gave support to his inside forwards. Mr. McGee ran so fast, the Mayo forwards saw him as a goal threat.
After 12 minutes, Donegal trailed by four points to two, but two unanswered points put the Northerners behind by four points to six by the 21st minute. Two Aidan O’Shea frees, and a point each from Jack Carney, and Colm Reape put Mayo in control, and they never really looked back after.
However, things could have been different only for Mayo Keeper Colm Reape, who produced a stunning save from Ciaran Thompson 26 minutes after the latter had been put through on goal.
Following that lucky escape for the away side, they finished the half strongly by adding four more.
The Ulster side was ruthless but did not have their team reduced to 14 players around the 17th-minute mark when Shaun Patton was not shown a straight red card after an over-exuberant challenge. Mayo was one point up at that stage leading by 0-05 to 0-04 and was in complete control of the contest. Ciaran Thompson was one Donegal player that the Mayo player couldn’t control as the Naomh Conail man got 1-3 but more importantly, he was a key player. Mr. Thompson showed an ability to bomb forward as an attacking threat. Thompson was always ready to expose any Mayo forwards who did anything wrong. Ciaran had every individual battle that he had on the field but was only given 50 minutes. As a towering midfielder, Paddy Carr aimed to make everything fall into place.
Mayo then built up a 17-point cushion on fifty-eight minutes when Aidan O’Shea pointed, before a Donegal late rally reduced the deficit back to just seven points, with Oisin Gallen scoring a point and Jamie Brennan firing over the bar as well along with a Micheal Langan free. However, this experience would stand to the young Mark Curran as he showed that he was the quickest and best tackler on the pitch. Curran was given the role of marking Mayo’s most potent forward Ryan O’Donoghue.
However, a point from Paul Towey in stoppage time sealed the two points for Mayo and their fourth win on the bounce. A crucial reason for their success would be the firepower of James Carr up top.
Tyrone’s eight-point win over Monaghan on Sunday means that the Red Hand County is straight into survival spots, with Monaghan and Mayo, who meet this Sunday in Castlebar, with Mayo qualifying for the final.
It was a winner-takes-all clash between western counties and keen rivals but turned out to be more of a damp squib. Donegal’s grim run of form continued as they were handed a heavy defeat by a far superior Mayo team in Sunday’s Allianz National Football League Division One meeting in Ballybofey.
In the end, Mayo finished the stronger to book a League final spot with a team to be decided next.
With the rain teeming down in Donegal all afternoon, the conditions weren’t conducive to flow.
Mayo scorers: Ryan O’Donoghue 1-3 (1f), Aidan O’Shea 0-4 (2 marks, 1f), Mattie Ruane 0-3, Jordan Flynn 0-2, Paddy Durcan 0-2, Colm Reape 0-1 (‘45), Jack Carney, Paul Towey 0-1 each
Donegal: Shaun Patton; Mark Curran, Caolan Ward, Caolan McColgan; Daire O’Baoill, Brendan McCole, Eoin Ban Gallagher; Jason McGee, Caolan McGonigle; Michael Lagan, Conor O’Donnell, Ciaran Thompson; Peadar Mogan, Hugh McFadden, Jamie Brennan.
Subs: Oisin Gallen for Mogan (h-t), Rory O’Donnell for Thompson (51), Joel Bradley Walsh for Brennan (59), Kane Barrett for Gallen (61).
Mayo: Colm Reape; Jack Coyne, David McBrien, Sam Callinan; Stephen Coen, Conor Loftus, Paddy Durcan; Matthew Ruane, Diarmuid O’Connor; Fionn McDonagh, Jack Carney, Jordan Flynn; Aidan O’Shea, James Carr, Ryan O’Donoghue.
Subs: Tommy Conroy for Carr (45), Kevin McLaughlin for McDonagh (51), Padraig O’Hora and Donncha McHugh for Coyne and Callinan (59), Bob Tuohy and Paul Towey for Ruane and O’Donoghue (68),
Referee: Sean Hurson (Tyrone).