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D1: Gutsy Mayo beat Monaghan for first win in top tier

Monaghan v Mayo

Monaghan v Mayo


By Colm Shalvey in Clones

Mayo got off the mark in the Allianz Football League Division I with a hard-earned two-point win over Monaghan in Clones on Sunday.

Mayo lost Aidan O’Shea and Lee Keegan to black cards, but they were deserving winners after a combination of determined defending and more creative attacking gave them the edge. Conor Loftus and Diarmuid O’Connor got the all-important goals for Mayo, as they got their first win under Stephen Rochford, against a Conor McManus-led Monaghan team who failed to score from play after the 22nd minute.

Monaghan almost had a goal within seconds of the throw-in as Karl O’Connell scythed through the Mayo defence, only to be denied by Mayo keeper Rob Hennelly. A Conor O’Shea point for Mayo opened the scoring in the fourth minute, but Monaghan quickly responded through Fintan Kelly and the visitors then suffered a setback when Aidan O’Shea was black-carded for a pull-down on Ryan Wylie.

Conor McManus then opened his account from a free to edge Monaghan ahead and although Evan Regan responded in kind, the hosts then won a penalty for a push on Kelly. McManus saw his shot parried by Hennelly, but the rebound fell for the Monaghan captain to tap home the opening goal.

Monaghan’s lead lasted just two minutes until Conor Loftus broke through to slide home a well-taken goal, but the Ulster champions enjoyed a spell of dominance midway through the first half, via points from Thomas Kerr, McManus and Shane Carey. They were left to rue some missed chances, however, as Mayo replied through Diarmuid O’Connor, Conor O’Shea and a brace from Regan to lead by 1-6 to 1-5 at half-time.

Mayo were on top at the start of the second half, with substitute Jason Doherty kicking a point and O’Connor poking the ball through Rory Beggan’s legs after a Tom Parsons sideline kick broke across the Monaghan square.

A brace of frees by McManus kept Monaghan in touch, but despite losing Lee Keegan to a black card for a foul on the hosts’ top scorer, Mayo stayed on top thanks to McLoughlin, who also went close to getting his side’s third goal. A string of pointed frees by McManus, along with a ’45 by Beggan, dragged Monaghan level going into the last five minutes of normal time, but Beggan’s opposite number, Hennelly, had the final say; converting two excellent frees from around the 50-metre range to win it for Mayo in a frenetic finish.

Mayo host Kerry in round five next Sunday, while Monaghan face the long journey to Cork.

**Scorers for Monaghan: **C McManus 1-8 (8f), R Beggan 0-1 (’45), S Carey 0-1, F Kelly 0-1, T Kerr 0-1

**Scorers for Mayo: **D O'Connor 1-1, C Loftus 1-0, E Regan 0-3 (2f), R Hennelly 0-2 (2f), C O'Shea 0-2, K McLoughlin 0-2, J Doherty 0-1

MONAGHAN: R Beggan; C Walshe, D Wylie, R Wylie; K Duffy, N McAdam, F Kelly; K O’Connell, D Hughes; S Carey, D Malone, T Kerr; O Duffy, D McKenna, C McManus (Capt.). Subs: R McAnespie for O Duffy (H-T), B McGinn for Malone (45), C Boyle for K Duffy (46), C McCarthy for McKenna (57).

**MAYO: **R Hennelly; G Cafferkey, B Harrison, L Keegan; M Hall, C Boyle (Capt.), S Nally; T Parsons, S O’Shea; D O’Connor, C O’Shea, K McLoughlin; E Regan, A O’Shea, C Loftus. **Subs: **J Doherty for A O'Shea (black card, 7), M Sweeney for Loftus (44), D Vaughan for Keegan (black card, 51), C Barrett for Nally (56), J Gibbons for C O'Shea (63), Moran for Regan (65).

Referee: J McQuillan (Cavan).