Allianz FL D1: O'Connor nets decisive goal in Castlebar
Allianz Football League Division One
MAYO 1-12 DONEGAL 0-13
By Daragh Small at Elverys MacHale Park
Cillian O’Connor scored the crucial goal and to earn a two-point win over Donegal in Castlebar.
With the huge crowd of 14,102 filtering into the ground it meant for a 10-minute delay to throw-in, but Donegal weren’t upset by it, and they held an 0-11 to 1-5 lead at half-time.
Donegal started well in the second-half too, but it unravelled when Eamonn Doherty got a straight read and O’Connor upped his personal tally to 1-5 for the day.
Mayo came into this game knowing that victory would guarantee their survival in the top flight for another year, but the pressure was on with Cavan favourites to beat the already relegated Roscommon, even though the northerners failed to win.
Donegal started well against a stiff breeze and points from Eoghan Ban Gallagher and Cian Mulligan gave them a 0-2 to 0-0 lead after three minutes.
But Mayo’s first score was a goal in the fifth minute – Cillian O’Connor was bundled over by Mark Anthony McGinley, and O’Connor stepped up to slot the penalty.
Mayo hit the next three points in a row, with efforts from Andy Moran, Cillian O’Connor and Danny Kirby, before Donegal took complete control.
Rory Gallagher’s side scored eight of the next nine points before Colm Boyle stopped the rot for Mayo. But the damage had been done and Donegal led by 0-10 to 1-5 in the 34th minute.
Murphy had been central to their charge and he brought his tally to four points for the first-half, and after Boyle’s reprieve, McGlynn extended Donegal’s lead and they held a three-point lead at the break.
Lee Keegan could have cancelled that out immediately on the resumption, but hit fisted effort was saved by McGinley. That went over for a point, but two points in a row from Mulligan gave Donegal the ascendency again.
The game turned when there was a row in the Mayo half, and Donegal had Jason McGee, Ciaran Thompson and Michael Murphy all yellow carded, along with Mayo’s Aidan O’Shea.
Keith Higgins scored a tonic point for Mayo, and then Doherty got his red card with 12 minutes remaining.
Mayo sensed the Donegal challenge easing up and O’Connor kicked four points as they saw out the win.
Scorers for Mayo: Cillian O’Connor 1-5 (1-0 pen, 4fs), Lee Keegan 0-2, Shane Nally 0-1, Danny Kirby 0-1, Andy Moran 0-1, Colm Boyle 0-1, Keith Higgins 0-1.
Scorers for Donegal: Michael Murphy 0-4 (3fs, 145), Cian Mulligan 0-3, Ciaran Thompson 0-2, Eoghan Ban Gallagher 0-1, Jamie Brennan 0-1, Martin O’Reilly 0-1, Frank McGlynn 0-1.
MAYO: David Clarke; Chris Barrett, Keith Higgins, Brendan Harrision; Colm Boyle, Lee Keegan, Patrick Durcan; Tom Parsons, Danny Kirby; Fergal Boland, Shane Nally, David Drake; Kevin McLoughlin, Andy Moran, Cillian O’Connor.
Subs: Diarmuid O’Connor for Boland (half-time), Stephen Coen for Boyle (half-time), Aidan O’Shea for Kirby (46), Jason Doherty for Moran (59), Donal Vaughan for Drake (65).
DONEGAL: Mark Anthony McGinley; Paddy McGrath, Neil McGee, Karl Lacey; Eoghan Ban Gallagher, Eamonn Doherty, Martin O’Reilly; Jason McGee, Michael Murphy; Cian Mulligan, Michael Carroll, Ciaran Thompson; Jamie Brennan, Hugh McFadden, Frank McGlynn.
Subs: Eoin McHugh for McFadden (49), Patrick McBrearty for Lacey (59), Mark McHugh for McGlynn (65), Martin McElhinney for McGrath (68), Michael Langan for McGee (69).
REFEREE: Cormac Reilly (Meath).