Allianz FL D1: Mayo reach decider
Allianz Football League Division One
MAYO 3-15 MONAGHAN 1-18
By Colm Gannon at Elverys MacHale Park
Mayo booked their place in the Allianz Football League final after a hard fought win over Monaghan in MacHale Park.
Kevin McLoughlin gave Mayo the perfect start rolling the ball into the back of the net from close range with five minutes gone.
The Knockmore man was picked out by Darren Coen on the break after he had been spotted in space by Aidan O’Shea.
Monaghan had opened the scoring through a long range effort from Jack McCarron inside the opening minute before that goal.
They should have found the back of the net themselves eight minutes in when Karl O’Connell sped through the Mayo defence, but David Clarke stood him up before pulling off a fine save at the Monaghan wing backs feet.
Malachay O’Rourke’s men did have the game level by the 14th minute thanks to points from Conor McManus and McCarron at 1-0 to 0-3.
Mayo edged themselves back in front with Jason Doherty slotting over a free before Fergal Boland landed an excellent point from play.
James McCormack pushed Mayo three clear in the 20th minute with a neat finish – Monaghan were offered a chance to cut that gap back to two not long after, but Rory Beggan was off target with a long range free.
Fergal Boland’s second point stretched that gap out to four 15 minutes from the break – but five minutes later McCarron kicked his third of the afternoon to cut the gap to just a goal and a minute later he kicked his fourth point of the day from play with an excellent finish to leave just two between the sides.
Fergal Boland stepped up again for Mayo and showed he had brought his shooting boots with him driving over his third top level point to make it 1-5 to 0-5 with five minutes left in normal time in the half.
Mayo went six clear when McLoughlin nailed his second goal of the day finishing off a flowing move involving Diarmuid O’Connor, Fergal Boland and Aidan O’Shea.
For the second week in a row Mayo were forced to change goalkeeper after David Clarke was caught late by Darren Hughes after he caught a dropping effort from Conor McManus.
McCarron and Aidan O’Shea traded big points, before Brian Reape slotted over a mark to send Mayo in leading by seven at the break.
Monaghan had that gap cut back to just four six minutes into the second half. McCarron kicked his sixth of the day before both Henelly and Beggan traded long range frees – those scores were followed by two trade mark Conor McManus points to leave the score at 2-8 to 0-10 in favour of the home side.
Monaghan’s chances were dealt a blow when Fintan Kelly was shown a straight red for a high hit on Fergal Boland and Mayo followed that up with a fine score from Darren Coen to go five clear again with 46 minutes gone.
McLoughlin pushed the gap out to half a dozen – but then Monaghan were thrown an lifeline when Darren Hughes finished to the back of the net after flowing move and cut the gap back to three.
Almost as quickly that gap was doubled with the ball ending up in the back of Beggan’s net, despite a brilliant save from the Monaghan net minder to keep our a Kevin McLoughlin effort – the resulting rebound saw the ball going in for Mayo’s third goal of the day and them leading 3-10 to 2-10.
Brendan Harrison then pointed for Mayo before McManus hit back with a free for Monaghan to leave Mayo six clear again. Points from McLoughlin and Doherty not long after had them eight clear and looking home and hosed.
But Monaghan kept plugging away and McManus kicked three frees and McCarron one from play to leave it 3-13 to 1-15 with ten minutes to go. McManus kept his nerve to slot over another free to leave just a goal between the teams a minute later the gap was back to two when Conor McCarthy pointed for the visitors.
Diarmuid O’Connor calmed some of the home faithfuls nerves with a well taken score to put the gap back out to three and then Donal Vaughan pointed to put Mayo four in front.
Ryan McAnespie drove over a top class point for Monaghan to cut it back to three as the game slipped into injury time and it was all to play for, but Mayo held on.
Scorers for Mayo: Kevin McLoughlin 2-2, Fergal Boland 0-3, OG 1-0, Jason Doherty 0-2, Darren Coen, Diarmuid O’Connor, Aidan O’Shea, James McCormack, Brendan Harrison, Donal Vauhgan, Brian Reape (m), and Rob Hennelly (f) 0-1 each.
Scorers for Monaghan Conor McManus 0-8 (5fs), Jack McCarron 0-7 (1f), Darren Hughes 1-0, Ryan McAnespie, Conor McCarthy, Rory Beggan (f) 0-1 each.
MAYO: David Clarke; Stephen Coen, Brendan Harrison, Eoin O’Donoghue; Paddy Durcan, Chris Barrett, James McCormack; Matthew Ruane, Aidan O’Shea; Fergal Boland, Jason Doherty, Diarmuid O’Connor; Kevin McLoughlin, Darren Coen, Conor Diskin.
Subs: Brian Reape for Conor Diskin, Rob Hennelly for Clarke, Jason Gibbons for Ruane, David Drake for O’Donoghue, Donal Vauhgan for McCormack, Ciaran Tracey for Boland, James Carr for Darren Coen
MONAGHAN: Rory Beggan; Barry Kerr, Drew Wylie, Ryan Wylie; Karl O’Connell, Conor Boyle, Kieran Duffy; Darren Hughes, Neil McAdam; Ryan McAnespie, Dermot Malone, Owen Duffy; Conor McCarthy, Jack McCarron, Conor McManus.
Subs: Stephen O’Hanlon for Malone, Dessie Moane for McAdam, Vinny Corey for Dew Wylie, Owen Duffy for McCarthy.
REFEREE: Derek O'Mahoney (Tipperary).