Tuesday, 06 March 2012 13:54
.... Solid performance by backs is platform for away win
Mayo 1-14 Armagh 0-11
MAYO hit the ground running in the Morgan Athletic Grouds, Armagh, on a bitterly cold Saturday night to rob two precious points from the home side to make it two wins from two outings, the abandoned game against Dublin now viewed in a different light in view of the quality of this performance.
In fairness, rob does an injustice to a solid Mayo performance as they dictated most of this game, and while what as at one an eight-point lead pared back to three, they were able to kick on and close out the game a shade comfortably in the end.
Armagh didnt really know what had hit them in the opening 10 minutes of this game by which time they found themselves seven points adrift, Andy Morans goal on eight minutes giving Mayo a stranglehold on a game they never really looked like losing.
The home side did mount a terrific comeback in the second half to whittle the gap down to three points for the second time in the game, but the Mayo defence, which had creaked so badly in the half played against Dublin before the fog took over, stood firm, and, in fact, proved to be the launch pad for so many productive Mayo attacks in the second half in particular.
While some of Mayos finishing was impressive, what stood out in this game was their ability to handle the physical pressure exerted by Armagh and Mayos strength, the evidence of some heavy gym work clearly visible.
Mayo were strong on the ball, full of running and their support play was exceptionally good, yielding a number of quality scores with Enda Varley and Alan Freeman turning in two big performances.
Mayo also dominated the middle of the field where Aiden OShea gave a very strong performance but it was Mayos defensive work which really provided the platform for an away win which could have a major bearing on Mayos league fortunes when the sums are added up after the final game away to Kerry.
An injury to Kevin McLoughlin put Alan Freeman in from the start and the Aghamore man was to have a major impact, his three opening points, two from frees, easing Mayo into the game before Andy Moran pounced on a broken ball from David Clarkes 45 to poke the ball to the net.
A fisted point from Enda Varley followed and Mayo were 1-4 clear with barely 10 minutes gone.
Aidan Forker finally got Armagh off the mark on 10 minutes with a free and by the 21st minute they had narrowed the gap to three, but back-to--back frees from Conor Mortimer had Mayo in control again and it remained that way at the break as they lead by 1-7 to 0-6.
Conor Mortimer extended that lead with an early free in the second half and a lovely effort on the left foot after a clever shimmy from the same player followed.
Less than 10 minutes into the second half Mayo had opened up an eight point gap, Varley and the impressive Lee Keegan finishing well to compliment some excellent build up play.
Mayo were now dominant all over the field and running at Armagh but the introduction of a number of Armagh substitutes began to turn the tide a bit, Colm Watters producing back-to-back points to spark an Armagh revival.
With the gap at five it could so easily have been two when Colm Boyle, a second half substitute for Keane, somehow cleared the ball off the line at the expense of a 45 after the Armagh full-back Brendan Donaghy had a made a superb run.
The home side still pared it back to three points with a 45 and a free from their top scorer Forker, but Mayo maintained their composure, Freeman with free after he had been fouled and two superb efforts from the in-form Varley finally putting the seal on an excellent win and, more importantly, an excellent performance of hard graft all round.
Scorers for Mayo: A. Freeman 0-5 (1f), E. Varley 0-4, C. Mortimer 0-4 (3f), A. Moran 1-0, L. Keegan 0-1. Scorers for Armagh: A. Forker 0-7 (4f, 145), C. Watters 0-2, B. Mallon and G. McPartland 0-1 each.
Mayo: D. Clarke, K. Keane, G. Cafferkey, K. Higgins, R. Feeney, D. Vaughan, L. Keegan, A. OShea, B. Moran, C. Freeman, A. Dillon, J .Doherty, C. Mortimer, A. Moran, E. Varley.
Subs used: C. Boyle for K. Keane, S. OShea for B. Moran P. Harte for A. Moran.
Armagh: P. McEvoy, A. Mallon, B. Donaghy, D. McKenna, K. Dyra, P. Duffy, F. Moriarity, C. Vernon, M. Mackin, A. Forker, B. Mallon, A. Duffy, C. Raftery, J. Kingham, G. McPartland.
Subs used: S. Campbell for C. Vernon (inj, 21m), M. Stevenson for P. Duffy, C. Watters for Mallon, R. Raftery for McPartland.
Referee: M. Deegan (Laois).
Man of the match
A number of players stood out in the Mayo defence and certainly Richie Feeney was outstanding while up front Alan Freeman was the pick of the crop but the contribution of Aiden OShea in the middle of the park was central to Mayos dominance and the Breaffy man is given the nod.
JAMES Horan is on record as saying the team conceded too many goals in last years league campaign. The significant improvement in the Mayo defence whoa have kept a cleansheet from two outings was very much the talking point on a cold night in Armagh where the few who made the long trek home were comforted by a performance that made the journey well worthwhile.
ANDY Morans goal put the icing on a four-point cake for Mayo after just nine minutes but a vital interception by substitute Colm Boyle was crucial in stopping an Armagh revival in the second half which saw them within five points and Mayo now beginning to feel the heat as the home crowd got behind their team.
MAYO face struggling Down in round four of the league this Sunday in McHale Park where a win would certainly guarantee their place in the top flight and boost their chances of making one of the two semi-final places up for grabs.