RELEGATION looms very large for Mayo once again following their fourth defeat in the Allianz National Football League.
A crowd of close to 15,000 turned up at Elverys MacHale Park in ideal conditions and it did look as if Mayo were on course to follow up on their only league win over Monaghan last Sunday and ease their relegation worries.
But a goal from Johnny Buckley, just before half-time, changed the complexion of this game as Mayo saw a four point lead - 0-7 to 0-3- slashed to one.
They took that one point lead with them to the break 0-7 to 1-3 having dominated large part of the first half but a day of dreadful freetaking by both Kevin McLoughlin and Robbie Hennelly was to prove expensive.
Kerry took control of the second half with Bryan Sheehan very strong in the middle of the field but when Kieran Donaghy was dispatched on a second yellow card, 20 minutes from time, there was every chance that Mayo could capitalise on the extra man.
But Kerry played a very cute defensive game and hit Mayo on the break, while they brought in two influential bench players, Brendan O’Sullivan and Barry John Keane, and a second goal from, Donnacha Walsh, 15 minutes from the end, left Mayo facing a 2-10 to 0-11 deficit.
Colm Gooch Cooper, who was a significant figure in opening up Mayo’s defence in the second half sent in a hopeful ball from a free near the sideline which was knocked away by Hennelly, but it fell to Donaghy and he put it one plate for Walsh for a tap-in goal to en empty goal.
Mayo had a great goal chance of their own in the first half when Aidan O’Shea kicked over the bar when a goal might have been easier but he did have three Kerry men hanging from him and his influence in this game was well curtailed by Aidan O’Mahoney who gave a man of the match display.
Diarmuid O’Connor, who was well held in this game, also picked up second yellow in the closing stages but Kerry were well on their way to at a third league win at that stage as Mayo now contemplate a visit to Hyde Park on Easter Sunday where they wiil need to stage another rising of their own.
Roscommon’s win over Donegal puts them into the play-offs and they are likely now to decide whether Mayo remain in Division 1 or face demotion for the first time since the league was revamped, although Monaghan losing to Cork was at least some good news when two rounds of the commotion remaining.
Kerry: B. Kealy, M. Ó Se (0-1), M. Griffin, S. Enright; A. O’Mahony, P. Crowley (0-2), F. Fitzgerald, K Donaghy, B. Sheehan (0-2, 2f), D. Walsh (1-0), P. Murphy, J. Buckley (1-1), D. O’Sullivan (0-3), C Cooper (0-2, 2f), S O’Brien.
Subs used: B. Kelly for Kealy (30), BJ/ Keane for O’Brien (53), B. O’Sullivan (0-2) for Buckley (56), P. O’Connor for Crowley (63, BC), J. Lyne for Walsh (66), D. Daly for D. O’Sullivan (73).
Mayo: R. Hennelly (0-2, 1f, 1’45), B. Harrison, G. Cafferkey, L. Keegan; S Nally (0-1), C. Boyle, D. Vaughan, T. Parsons (0-1), S O’Shea (0-1), D. O’Connor (0-1), J. Doherty (0-1), C. Carolan, K. McLoughlin (0-3,1f), A. O’Shea (0-2), C O’Shea.
Subs used: S. Coen for Nally (46), A. Moran (0-2, 2f) for Carolan (51), M. Sweeney for C. O’Shea (59), C. Barrett for Cafferkey (65), J. Gibbons for Doherty (67).
Referee: Rory Hickey (Clare).