Monaghan ..... 1-11
THIS was not the result Mayo had planned for as their Allianz National League got off to the worst possible start with a narrow two-point defeat at the hands of Monaghan at Elvery's MacHale Park where 11,000 turned out to see a tough but always entertaining encounter.
Mayo handed Donal Newcombe and Fergal Boland their spurs and both will be reasonably happy with their debut performances.
But, as a team, Mayo came up well short, and Monaghan, who kicked 14 wides and were reduced to 14 men when Karl O'Connell was sent after picking up a second yellow card,13 minutes from time, were worthy winners.
Yet Stephen Rochford's charges could have snatched a draw but were denied in a last-gasp attack and, from the counter-attack, top man Conor McManus nailed an amazing point from near the comer flag deep into five minutes of injury-time to seal the deal.
McManus was also the creator of the only, but decisive, goal of the game three minutes into the second half when he set up Darren Hughes who squeezed the ball past David Clarke.
That goat put Monaghan 1-5 to 0-6 clear, Mayo having led at the break by 0-6 to 0-5.
Monaghan shot four points clear at one stage but Mayo reeled them in with Evan Regan kicking a tremendous point as well as a huge free, while Kevin McLoughlin, Fergal Boland and Cillian O’Connor all helped turn the Mayo ship around by the break.
But as the tempo of the game rose in the second half with a handful of yellow cards to each side, along with that red, Monaghan were not willing to give an inch and that goal really sparked them into life.
And when it was followed by a fabulous point from Colin Walsh, the visitors had gone three clear.
Try as they might, and Mayo did try as Tom Parsons, Diarmuid O’Connor and Andy Moran were thrown into the mix along with Conor Shea, the home side always needed a goal to pull this one from the fire.
Only for David Clarke, Monaghan might have bagged another goal or two while Cillian Connor’s free kept Mayo hanging in, but they could never pull on level terms and the result, despite Mayo suffering from a few bad decision at the hands of referee Conor Lane, was the fairest one as Mayo now contemplate a trip to Kerry next Saturday night.
Monaghan: R. Beggan (0-1, 1f), F. Kelly, D. Wylie, R. Wylie, K. Dufffy, N. McAdam, C. Walsh (0-1), D. Hughes (1-1), K. Hughes, K. O’Connell, S. Carey, G. Doogan, C. McCarthy, T. Kerr (0-1), C. McManus (0-6, 1 45’ 3f).
Subs used: G. Malone for C. McCarthy (ht), B. McEnespie for S. Carey (50) O. Duffy for T. Kerr (55), J. Mealiff for McAdam (67).
Mayo: D. Clarke, D. Newcombe, K. Higgins, P. Durcan, C. Boyle, S. Coen, D. Drake, D. Vaughan, D. Kirby, F. Boland (0-1), K. McLoughlin (0-1), J. Doherty, E. Regan (0-2, 1 f), A. Freeman (0-1), C. O'Connor (0-7, 5f).
Subs used: D. O’Connor for Regan (44), T. Parsons for Kirby (50), A. Moran for Freeman (51), C. O’Shea for J Doherty (67).
Referee: C Lane (Cork).