All-Ireland SFC: Mayo edge out Louth
All-Ireland SFC Group One
Mayo 0-14 Louth 1-10
By Colm Gannon at Hastings Insurance MacHale Park
Louth almost pulled off the shock of the round, when they pushed Mayo all the way in Hastings Insurance MacHale Park. Louth came with a game plan and stuck to it right to the end and when they struck for the only goal of the game deep in injury time, and it almost paid off.
With injury time looking like it was about to expire, Mayo extended their lead to five points as Fionn McDonagh deftly fisted the ball over from close range. Yet, late drama awaited.
Just a minute later, Conall McKeever was slipped in and unleashed a powerful shot past Colm Reape, narrowing the gap to two points.
In the subsequent attack, Conor Grimes scored a point, bringing the margin to the bare minimum. Unfortunately for Louth, that marked the final action of the day, as referee Noel Mooney blew the whistle following the resultant kick-out.
At half-time, Mayo held a three-point lead after a slow-burning first half. Louth retreated into their own half, impeding Mayo's attacking avenues, which proved challenging to overcome.
In the early stages, it appeared Mayo might cruise to victory as they swiftly accumulated three points within the initial five minutes. Colm Reape confidently converted a free kick from 45 metres shortly after the throw-in, and just a minute later, Jack Carney skillfully finished off a hand-passing move from inside. Then, at the five-minute mark, Ryan O'Donoghue punched the ball over the bar, granting his side a three-point advantage.
Sam Mulroy initiated Louth's scoring with a well-executed pointed free after eight minutes, allowing them to establish a foothold in the game. David McBrien had a goal opportunity impressively saved by James Califf at the 15-minute mark, and soon after, Aidan O'Shea added a point from a free, once again placing Mayo three points ahead.
Mulroy drained a long-range free kick to keep Mickey Harte's team within reach, which was swiftly countered by a point from Jordan Flynn, who collected the ball on the run during his second attempt.
Conor Grimes landed a long-range point, met with a response from Ryan O'Donoghue's successful free kick, ensuring Mayo maintained their three-point lead. Ciaran Downey slipped over a mark at the half-hour mark, enabling his side to stay within touching distance of Mayo. Kevin McStay's team extended their lead to three points once more when Stephen Coen raised a white flag from a mark shortly after.
Shortly after the restart, Mayo surged four points ahead through Matthew Ruane. However, Louth remained in contention as Ciarán Downey scored from long range, accompanied by Leonard Grey raising another white flag. Grey had an opportunity to score a goal after being set up behind the defense by McKeever, but his effort sailed over the bar.
The sweltering heat drained the energy from the players on both sides as they exchanged scores on two occasions, keeping the gap at two points.
Crucially, points from Aidan O'Shea and Paddy Durcan widened Mayo's lead to four points. Mulroy reduced the deficit to three before another successful free kick from O'Shea and McDonagh's effort extended Mayo's advantage to five, seemingly securing victory. However, there was still time for some late drama.
Scorers for Mayo: Aidan O’Shea 0-4 (4fs), Ryan O’Donoghue 0-3 (2fs), Colm Reape 0-1 (f), Stephen Coen 0-1 (m), Paddy Durcan 0-1, Matthew Ruane 0-1, Jack Carney 0-1, Jordan Flynn 0-1, Fionn McDonagh 0-1.
Scorers for Louth: Sam Mulroy 0-3 (3fs), Conall McKeever 1-0, Ciaran Downey 0-2, Conor Grimes 0-2, Conor Early 0-1, Leonard Grey 0-1, Niall Sharkey 0-1.
Mayo: Colm Reape; Jack Coyne, David McBrien, Sam Callinan; Padraig O’Hora, Conor Loftus, Stephen Coen; Matthew Ruane, Donnacha McHugh; Jason Doherty, Jack Carney, Jordan Flynn; Aidan O’Shea, James Carr, Ryan O’Donoghue.
Subs: Paddy Durcan for Jason Doherty, Tommy Conroy for James Carr, Enda Hession for Sam Callinan, Fionn McDonagh for Jordan Flynn, Bob Tuohy for Jack Coyne.
Louth: James Califf; Bevan Duffy, Peter Lynch, Donal McKenny; Leonard Grey, Niall Sharkey, Anthony Willams, Tommy Durnin, Conor Early; Conall McKeever, Ciaran Downey, Conor Grimes; Conall McCaul, Sam Mulroy, Ciarán Murphy.
Subs: Craig Lennon for McCaul, Dermot Campbell for Williams, Ryan Burns for Lynch, Paul Matthews for Murphy.
Referee: Noel Mooney (Cavan).