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SFC Qualifier: Mayo come good in second-half



Round 2B All-Ireland SFC Qualifier


By Daragh Small at McHale Park

Mayo had only won once competitively at McHale Park in 2016 and this comeback victory over Fermanagh will be a massive boost for manager Stephen Rochford.

With Mayo taking their place in the qualifiers for the first time since 2010, it was a terrible draw when they landed this experienced Fermanagh outfit, who had a great run through the back door last year.

But despite defeats to Dublin, Kerry and Galway this term, Mayo backed up their win over Down in the league, to usurp another northern team in Castlebar.

Sean Quigley got the Fermanagh goal in the first-half as they took a 1-10 to 1-4 half-time lead. But with Alan Freeman and Cillian O’Connor finding the net Mayo advanced. Mayo forced Fermanagh to shoot from distance in the early stages and the northerners were equal to the challenge.

Wing-back Aidan Breen scored their first point after two minutes, before Diarmuid O’Connor tied the game up in the fourth minute. Kevin McLoughlin was the sweeper in the Mayo defence and he blocked the route to goal, but Fermanagh kept trying their luck from long range.

Barry Mulrone, Quigley and Tomas Corrigan gave them a cushion, and when Mayo were in desperate need of a score Freeman pounced. Evan Regan did the hard work and provided the pass to Keith Higgins, his shot was saved superbly by Christopher Snow but Freeman followed up to bundle the ball to the net.

The game was tied 1-1 to 0-4 in the 14th minute and Cillian O’Connor followed up with a quick-fire point but Fermanagh hit back. Tomas Corrigan kicked an inspirational point from the sideline and then Ryan Lyons’ long ball was collected by Quigley, who side-stepped David Clarke and goaled in the 16th minute.

Tomas Corrigan scored another free but two Cillian O’Connor points brought Mayo back within two. However Breen hit Fermanagh’s first point in 13 minutes, he quickly tagged on another, Eoin Donnelly pushed them further clear and Lyons gave them a 1-10 to 1-4 half-time lead.

Mayo made a whirlwind start to the second-half, brothers Cillian and Diarmuid O’Connor kicked two points in the first two minutes. Mulrone slowed Mayo’s drive with a point for Fermanagh but Alan Dillon was introduced and he scored straight away. Mayo hit the next four points in a row to move back level for the third time.

Tomas Corrigan kicked a free, but Cillian O’Connor converted a penalty when Aidan O’Shea was hauled down and Mayo never looked back after that. Lee Keegan kicked his second point, Aidan O’Shea fisted a deserved point, and Dillon rounded off the scoring as Mayo survived a massive scare.

**Mayo scorers: **C O’Connor 1-5 (1-0 pen, 0-3f, 0-1 ’45), A Freeman 1-0, D O’Connor 0-2, L Keegan 0-2, A Dillon 0-2, E Regan 0-1 (0-1f), C Boyle 0-1, A O’Shea 0-1.

**Fermanagh scorers: **S Quigley 1-1 (0-1f), T Corrigan 0-4 (0-2f), A Breen 0-3, B Mulrone 0-2, E Donnelly 0-1, R Lyons 0-1.

Mayo: D Clarke; B Harrison, K Keane, K Higgins; L Keegan, C Boyle, P Durcan; S O’Shea, A O’Shea; K McLoughlin, S Coen, D O’Connor; E Regan, A Freeman, C O’Connor. Subs: D Vaughan for Durcan (34), A Dillon for Freeman (47), B Moran for Coen (53), A Moran for Regan (61), J Doherty for A O’Shea (71).

Fermanagh: C Snow; M Jones, C Cullen, M O’Brien; D McCusker, D Kelly, A Breen; E Donnelly, R O’Callaghan; B Mulrone, R Jones, R Lyons; R Corrigan, S Quigley, T Corrigan. Subs: P McCusker for Lyons (47), J McMahon for O’Brien (57), K Connor for D McCusker (65), C Flaherty for O’Callaghan (66), P McGovern for Breen (73).

Referee: Joe McQuillan (Cavan).