AND SO, MAYO live to fight another day.
Mayo’s Aidan O’Shea and Colm Boyle with Bryan McMahon of Meath.
Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO
In typical fashion, James Horan’s men did it the hard way in what was effectively a knock-out Super 8s game against Meath at Croke Park.
All was well and truly in the melting pot, but Kevin McLoughlin’s 61st-minute goal ultimately sent the Westerners on their way. Another late one from Cillian O’Connor — his penalty was saved by substitute keeper Mark Brennan but the Ballintubber star slotted the rebound — put the icing on the cake of a 2-17 to 0-14 win.
That said, the scoreline was an unfair reflection of the game as a whole. Meath held their own throughout, but Mayo won it with experience, and in typical Mayo fashion down the home straight. It was far from the most memorable or high-quality of clashes, but the ending was definitely an exciting one.
After both sides tasted defeat last weekend, both needed a win to keep their hopes of an All-Ireland semi-final spot alive — and Mayo’s focus now turns straight to a final day showdown against Donegal in two weeks’ time.
James Horan made three late changes to his Westerner side; Chris Barrett, Kevin McLoughlin and Fergal Boland all starting in place of Eoin O’Donoghue, Keith Higgins and Ciaran Treacy.
It wasn’t the most exciting of starts at HQ, but truth be told, the Royals looked more lively early on. It took seven minutes for the first score of the game to be kicked, Michael Newman clipping over a free before Bryan Menton added another from play.
Darren Coen hit Mayo’s first with the clock just short of nine minutes, before James McEntee pulled one back at the other end.
It wasn’t until the 12th minute that the Green and Red truly announced themselves on the scene, courtesy of two fine Fionn McDonagh points in quick succession.
Andy McEntee’s men were quick to stop any momentum building, however, as the in-form Donal Keogan burst through on goal, only for his shot to be stopped by David Clarke. Newman was there to fire the rebound over, but Kevin McLoughlin bit back at the Hill end.
Mayo’s Stephen Coen and Cillian O’Sullivan of Meath.
Source: James Crombie/INPHO
From there, the cracks in the Mayo defence started to come to the fore. Meath really should have done better before the posts, with Ethan Devine’s brilliant effort their only score between 17 and 35 minutes.
In that time, Fergal Boland, Jason Doherty and Cillian O’Connor (free) got their names on the scoresheet, making it 0-7 to 0-5.
As half time approached, Mayo looked to be finding their form, but late points from Cillian O’Sullivan and Seamus Lavin drew Meath back level for the fourth time by the break.
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There was bad news for the Royals, however, as they lost Newman to injury — but that didn’t phase them on the restart. His replacement, 19-year-old Shane Walsh made no mistake with a free to take the lead.
Boland responded, and Andy Moran’s introduction from the bench lifted the Mayo forward line, but scores from James Conlon and Walsh (free) soon had Meath into a two-point lead.
In a low-quality second half with some shocking wides at both ends, O’Connor and Walsh exchanged frees, before the former tagged on two more scores — one of those from play — to bring Mayo level with just under 20 minutes to go.
Lavin, again, and Moran traded points and with the home straight approaching, there were stark differences at both ends. Walsh missed back-to-back frees in front of the Hill, while Colm Boyle stepped up with an inspirational score to put Mayo one up.
Another leader, Lee Keegan, put his hand up with 61 minutes on the clock, while James Carr followed suit with another important point.
Kevin McLoughlin celebrates his all-important game.
Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO
And then came the decisive blow. Kevin McLoughlin sent the Green and Red fans wild with a crucial goal; the 1-4 they scored without reply ultimately settling the game.
O’Connor and Walsh (two) again exchanged frees as the clock ran down, and to Meath’s credit, they didn’t give up.
But it was O’Connor who grabbed a second goal after Andrew Colgan was black carded for a third-man tackle and Mayo awarded a penalty.
And Jason Doherty topped off the nine-point win with a fine score.
Scorers for Meath: Shane Walsh (0-5, 5f), Michael Newman (0-2, 1f), Seamus Lavin (0-2), Brian Menton, James McEntee, Ethan Devane, Cillian O’Sullivan, Seamus Lavin and James Conlon (0-1 each).
Scorers for Mayo: Cillian O’Connor (1-5, 4f), Kevin McLoughlin (1-1), Fionn McDonagh, Jason Doherty and Fergal Boland (0-2 each), Darren Coen, Andy Moran, Colm Boyle, Lee Keegan and James Carr (0-1 each).
1. Andrew Colgan (Donaghmore Ashbourne)
2. Séamus Lavin (St Peter’s Dunboyne)
3. Conor McGill (Ratoath)
4. Shane Gallagher (Simonstown Gaels)
5. Donal Keogan (Rathkenny)
6. Padraic Harnan (Moynalvey — joint-captain)
7. Gavin McCoy (St Peter’s Dunboyne)
8. Bryan Menton (Donaghmore Ashbourne – joint-captain)
9. Shane McEntee (St Peter’s Dunboyne)
10. Ethan Devine (Na Fianna)
11. Bryan McMahon (Ratoath)
12. Thomas McGovern (Donaghmore Ashbourne)
13. Cillian O’Sullivan (Moynalvey)
14. Mickey Newman (Kilmainham)
15. James Conlon (St Colmcille’s)
23. Shane Walsh for Michael Newman (37)
20. Barry Dardis for Gavin McCoy (49)
18. Sean Tobin for Ethan Devine (52)
26. Thomas McGovern for Seamus Lavin (64)
17. Thomas O’Reilly for Bryan McMahon (65)
16. Marcus Brennan for Andrew Colgan (black card) (74)
1. David Clarke (Ballina Stephenites)
2. Stephen Coen (Hollymount-Carramore)
3. Brendan Harrison (Aghamore)
19. Chris Barrett (Belmullet)
5. Lee Keegan (Westport)
6. Colm Boyle (Davitts)
22. Kevin McLoughlin (Knockmore)
8. Donal Vaughan (Castlebar Mitchels)
9. Seamus O’Shea (Breaffy)
10. Fionn McDonagh (Westport)
11. Aidan O’Shea (Breaffy)
26. Fergal Boland (Aghamore)
13. Cillian O’Connor (Ballintubber)
14. Darren Coen (Hollymount-Carramore)
15. Jason Doherty (Burrishoole)
24. Andy Moran for Darren Coen (HT)
25. James Carr for Fergal Boland (48)
4. Eoin O’Donoghue for Stephen Coen (55)
20. James McCormack for Seamus O’Shea (63)
17. Michael Plunkett for Lee Keegan (74)
12. Ciaran Treacy for Kevin McLoughlin (74)
Referee: Ciarán Brannigan (Down).
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