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Allianz FL D1: Mayo register important win

Neil Douglas, Mayo, and Darren Hughes, Monaghan, in action at Clones.

Neil Douglas, Mayo, and Darren Hughes, Monaghan, in action at Clones.

***Allianz Football League Division 1 ***


By Colm Shalvey at St Tiernach’s Park, Clones

Paddy Durcan kicked a superb late winner as Mayo edged a tense Allianz Football League Division 1 opener against Monaghan in Clones. The teams were all-square at half-time and the same outcome looked to be on the cards on 70 minutes, until the Castlebar Mitchels clubman made the difference.

A Monaghan team starting with four league debutants gave a spirited performance throughout a lively encounter, but with Mayo able to bring the likes of Cillian O’Connor off the bench, the 2017 All-Ireland finalists’ experience eventually told.

Monaghan started brightly with points from Karl O’Connell and Conor McCarthy and although 2017 Footballer of the Year Andy Moran opened his 2018 account in the 10th minute, league debutant David Garland swiftly restored the hosts’ two-point lead.

Evan Regan replied for Mayo, before having a free adjudged to have gone wide, to the annoyance of the sizeable visiting support. Jack McCarron and Regan swapped points from frees, before Eoin O’Donoghue got forward to bring Mayo level.

McCarron and Niall Kearns moved Monaghan two clear again, but three converted frees from Regan (two) and Neil Douglas edged Mayo ahead for the first time. The best score of the first half was the last one: a long-range effort from O’Connell that left the sides deadlocked at 0-7 apiece.

Kevin McLoughlin had a shot saved by Monaghan goalkeeper Rory Beggan after the restart, but a Paddy Durcan point and a Neil Douglas ’45 saw Mayo go on the front foot. McCarron and Garland brought Monaghan back on terms, but another free from Regan and a brace of placed kicks from Douglas pushed Mayo three clear.

Monaghan hit the next three points, however, to draw level once again, with McCarthy converting two frees either side of a second score from Kearns. Monaghan lost Ryan Wylie on a straight red card, Barry Kerr on a second booking and substitute Dermot Malone to a black card in a frantic finish, however, and a counter-attack deep into added time ended with Durcan kicking the winner from distance.

Mayo host Kerry in round two next Saturday, with Monaghan away to Kildare on Sunday.

Scorers for Mayo: Evan Regan 0-5 (4fs), Neil Douglas 0-4 (2fs, 2 ‘45s), Paddy Durcan 0-2, Andy Moran 0-1, Eoin O’Donoghue 0-1.

Scorers for Monaghan: Jack McCarron 0-3 (2fs), Conor McCarthy 0-3 (2fs), Karl O’Connell 0-2, David Garland 0-2, Niall Kearns 0-2.

MAYO: David Clarke; Brendan Harrison, Ger Cafferkey, Eoin O’Donoghue; Colm Boyle, Shane Nally, Paddy Durcan; Jason Gibbons, Stephen Coen; Kevin McLoughlin, Aidan O’Shea, Diarmuid O’Connor; Neil Douglas, Andy Moran, Evan Regan.

Subs: Cillian O’Connor for Douglas (58), Danny Kirby for D O’Connor (black card, 59), Conor Loftus for Moran (62), Sharoize Akram for Nally (66), Ger McDonagh for Boyle (70 + 1).

MONAGHAN: Rory Beggan; Ryan Wylie, Conor Boyle, Barry Kerr; Kieran Duffy, Páraic McGuirk, Karl O’Connell; Darren Hughes, Niall Kearns; Owen Duffy, Fintan Kelly, Ryan McAnespie; Conor McCarthy, Jack McCarron, David Garland.

Subs: Paudie McKenna for O Duffy (41), Dermot Malone for McCarron (52), Darren Freeman for Garland (56), Colin Walshe for McGuirk, Drew Wylie for K Duffy (both 64), Dessie Ward for McAnespie (69).

REFEREE: David Gough (Meath).