All-Ireland SFC: Mayo through to semi-finals at expense of Donegal
All-Ireland SFC Quarter-Final
MAYO 1-14 DONEGAL 1-10
By Kevin Fallon at Elverys MacHale Park
Veteran Andy Moran landed two points in injury-time to seal Mayo’s passage to the All-Ireland semi-finals for the eighth time in nine years after edging out Donegal in a gripping encounter in Castlebar.
Moran, a first-half substitute, used all his experience to wrap up the victory in front of over 27,000 supporters.
Both sides were guilty of some wayward shooting — Mayo hit a dozen wides and Donegal had 14 — but conditions were difficult on a wet evening at Elverys MacHale Park.
There were thousands of people inside the ground two hours before the start despite the incessant rain throughout the afternoon as fans arrived early for the eagerly-awaited contest.
Mayo received a double boost before the match with Tom Parsons, out for 15 months after suffering a serious knee injury in the Connacht championship last year against Galway, returning to the matchday squad while Matthew Ruane, who suffered a collarbone injury in training prior to their qualifier game against Down, also available.
Donegal, forced to start without injured full-back Neil McGee, suffered a blow when midfielder Jason McGee had to go off injured after just ten minutes, but could call on All-Ireland winner Leo McLoone to come in for him.
The Ulster champions enjoyed a good start against the breeze with Paddy McBrearty and Niall O’Donnell hitting early points but Mayo settled and efforts from Paddy Durcan and Cillian O’Connor got them back on level terms.
Donegal goalkeeper Shaun Patton had to be alert to deny Darren Coen after a wayward kickout but while Chris Barrett edged Mayo in front with his first point of the 2019 championship after 13 minutes, they suffered a big blow when Keith Higgins was black-carded for a foul on McBrearty.
Michael Murphy tied the sides with the resultant free but excellent kicks from Jason Doherty and James Carr pushed Mayo 0-5 to 0-3 in front after 22 minutes.
O’Connor, having been off target with a couple of frees, landed a second of the game seven minutes from the break and then gave Mayo a huge boost less than 60 seconds later when he fisted home his 30th goal for the county when he slipped in behind Paddy McGrath and connected perfectly to a delivery from Doherty.
Donegal hit back and it took a superb challenge from Colm Boyle on Jamie Brennan to prevent a goal at the other end.
Murphy pulled back a point for Donegal with his second free for their first score in 16 minutes to cut the gap to five but Mayo led by 1-7 to 0-4 at the break when Durcan got his second point of the half.
O’Donnell got Donegal’s first point from play since he landed one in the second minute of the match when he hit the target after 37 minutes but that was cancelled almost immediately when Carr got his second point of the match after being set up by Moran.
Donegal cut the gap in half when Murphy slotted home a 42nd penalty after referee David Gough adjudged that the Donegal captain was fouled by Lee Keegan as they contested a high ball.
Mayo lost Jason Doherty to a leg injury shortly afterwards but his replacement Kevin McLoughlin made an immediate impact with a superb point from the right.
Daire Ó Baoill cancelled that inside a minute and then McBrearty and Murphy hit points to cut the margin to 1-9 to 1-8 after 52 minutes.
Moran had a goal effort blocked by Patton but Durcan and O’Connor landed points to take a goal lead into the final ten minutes of the match.
Ó Baoill went forward to shoot his second point of the match from distance to cut the gap to two with five minutes of regular time remaining.
Another free from O’Connor restored Mayo’s goal advantage before Murphy soloed through to shoot his second point from play and leave two between them heading into seven minutes of stoppage time.
And with Donegal bringing their second-half wides tally to ten, it was veteran Moran who sealed the win for Mayo, fisting over a point and then kicking one from the right to send James Horan’s men into the All-Ireland semi-finals and bring Donegal's 2019 championship journey to an end.
Scorers for Mayo: Cillian O’Connor 1-4 (0-4f), Paddy Durcan 0-3, Andy Moran 0-2, James Carr 0-2, Chris Barrett 0-1, Jason Doherty 0-1, Kevin McLoughlin 0-1.
Scorers for Donegal: Michael Murphy 1-4 (1-0 pen, 0-2f), Paddy McBrearty 0-2, Niall O’Donnell 0-2, Daire Ó Baoill 0-2.
MAYO: Rob Hennelly; Chris Barrett, Brendan Harrison, Keith Higgins; Lee Keegan, Colm Boyle, Stephen Coen; Aidan O'Shea, Seamus O'Shea; Fionn McDonagh, Jason Doherty, Paddy Durcan; Cillian O'Connor, Darren Coen, James Carr. Subs: Eoin O’Donoghue for Higgins (black card 15), Andy Moran for Coen (26), Kevin McLoughlin for Doherty (45), Fergal Boland for Carr (66), Matthew Ruane for S O’Shea (71), James Durcan for O’Connor (76).
DONEGAL: Shaun Patton; Paddy McGrath, Eamonn Doherty, Stephen McMenamin; Ryan McHugh, Daire Ó Baoill, Odhrán McFadden Ferry; Hugh McFadden, Jason McGee; Ciarán Thompson, Niall O’Donnell, Jamie Brennan; Paddy McBrearty, Michael Murphy, Michael Langan. Subs: Leo McLoone for McGee (10), Paul Brennan for Doherty (32), Caolan Ward for McGrath (42), Oisin Gallen for Thompson (55), Eoin McHugh for Brennan (black card 63), Eoin McGettigan for R McHugh (73).
Referee: David Gough (Meath).