Declan Bogue reports from Páirc Esler Newry
MAYO GOT THEIR hunt for a Super 8s place back on track after that messy Roscommon defeat in Connacht with a typically nerve-shredding win over Down on Saturday night.
While they did open up a seven-point gap early in the second half, their sense of control is not at the elite level.
The madness that exists at the heart of Mayo football is still alive. They need it.
Aidan O’Shea breaks forward.
Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO
The fear here was that Paddy Tally, having been an important component of the Galway coaching team that restricted Mayo in their 0-12 to 1-12 Connacht Championship defeat last year, could produce something similar.
In simmering, uncomfortable heat, Mayo manager James Horan felt it was exactly the kind of hard road that suited old dogs and so came decorated All-Stars David Clarke, Colm Boyle and Andy Moran, supplemented by young talent in championship debutant Fionn McDonagh and Conor Loftus in a hard-running half-forward line.
Down started much more positively than anticipated and in Caolan Mooney they had a threat that sliced through the middle at will. In the ninth minute, those tactics paid off as he slalomed past a forest of Mayo bodies, got lucky with the bounce to go one on one with David Clarke and calmly potted his shot across Clarke to push Down into a 1-1 to 0-2 lead.
Conor Loftus celebrates his first goal.
Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO
Almost on cue however, they retreated. Mayo scored six of the next seven points.
Two early points at the start of the second half opened up a seven-point margin for Mayo, but they just cannot exert the kind of dominance of, say, Dublin.
Two Cory Quinn points and one from Jerome Johnston nibbled the Mayo lead.
A Keegan raid from deep, with the final score smashing off the crossbar and over from Jason Doherty, added a little relief.
It was the three second-half points from Lee Keegan got them home. The jamboree continues.
Scorers for Down: C Mooney 1-1, D O’Hare 0-3, 2f, C Harrison 0-2, C Quinn 0-2, P Havern, J Johnston 0-1 each
Scorers for Mayo: C Loftus 1-4, 3f, L Keegan 0-3, F McDonagh, A Moran 0-2 each, D O’Connor, K McLoughlin, C Treacy 0-1 each
1. David Clarke (Ballina Stephenites)
2. Chris Barrett (Belmullet)
3. Brendan Harrison (Aghamore)
4. Keith Higgins (Ballyhaunis)
5. Lee Keegan (Westport)
6. Colm Boyle (Davitts)
7. Patrick Durcan (Castlebar Mitchels)
8. Diarmuid O’Connor (Ballintubber)
9. Aidan O’Shea (Breaffy)
10. Fionn McDonagh (Westport)
11. Conor Loftus (Crossmolina)
12. Jason Doherty (Burrishoole
13. Kevin McLoughlin (Knockmore)
14. Darren Coen (Hollymount-Carramore)
15. Andy Moran (Ballaghaderreen)
E Regan for D Coen (Black card, 14m)
F Boland for Doherty (53m)
M Murray for McDonagh (62m)
C Treacy for McLoughlin (69m)
M Plunkett for Moran (71m)
J McCormack for D O’Connor (76m)
1. Rory Burns (Castlewellan)
2. Darren O’Hagan (Clonduff)
3. Benny McArdle (Annaclone)
4. Gerard Collins (Downpatrick)
5. Ryan McAleenan (Warrenpoint)
6. Kevin McKernan (Burren)
7. Daniel Guinness (Carryduff)
8. Owen McCabe (Carryduff)
9. Conor Poland (Longstone)
10. Conor Francis (Bredagh)
11. Caolan Mooney (Rostrevor)
12. Pierce Laverty (Saul)
13. Pat Havern (Saval)
14. Donal O’Hare (Burren)
15. Connaire Harrison
J Guinness for Laverty (42m)
J Johnston for D Guinness (46m)
C Quinn for Havern (50m)
B O’Hagan for McCabe (55m)
P Devlin for D O’Hagan (Black card, 62m)
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