Mayo ace Aidan O'Shea in action against Billy Joe Padden of Armagh during Saturday's Allianz football League Division One clash at the Morgan Athletics Ground, Armagh. Pic Oliver McVeigh Sportsfile
Tuesday, 06 March 2012 13:54
A PLACE in the semi-final of the national football league is now a realistic possibility even at this early stage of the competition following Mayos stunning six-point win over Armagh on Saturday night.
The Mayo GAA board will certainly be hoping that James Horans men can continue their unbeaten run as a qualification place is worth in the region of 40,000 to the Mayo board coffers.
Pulling two points from Armagh has set the Connaught champions up nicely for Sundays clash with struggling Down where a win for the home side looks guaranteed and will keep them on top of the table with a game in hand.
That game against Dublin, which had to be abandoned due to fog and is now refixed for March 31, could hold the key to Mayos league fortunes, but on the evidence of what we saw in Armagh they are looking good.
Manager James Horan accepted it wasnt Armaghs strongest side but he paid tribute to his team for their efforts.
It was a good win away and keeps our momentum going but it could have gone wrong when let a big lead slip, he said.
Mayo had shot seven points clear inside nine minutes thanks to an Andy Moran goal and went ahead by eight early in the second half only to be pulled back to three going into the last seven minutes in a game they dominated for long periods.
It took a dramatic goal-line save from substitue Colm Boyle to deny Armagh a goal which could have put Mayo under pressure in the closing stages.
However, Mayo held their composure, Enda Varley nailing two late points to cap a particularly impressive performance from the Garrymore man who ended with four points while Alan Freeman, who stood in for the injured Kevin McLoughlin, was another big contributor with five points to his credit.
We went asleep for 15 minutes and it could have proven costly, said the manager.
Horan was a little unhappy with the scoring return given the amount of possession Mayo enjoyed thanks to the good work of both Aiden OShea and Barry Moran at midfield where Mayo bossed matters,
It is hard to dominate a game for 70 minutes but we should have got a better return for all the ball we had but its a good win away and keeps us going forward.
We did a lot of good things but we have a lot to work on. However, we are going in the right direction.
The encouraging aspect to Mayos display was their defensive work, with Ger Cafferkey, Lee Keegan, Donal Vaughan and Richie Feeney outstanding.
Mayo take on Down this Sunday and having lost two from three games the northerners will be hoping to take something from their visit to Mayo, but they are struggling at the moment and this is an opportunity or Mayo, to gather another two points ahead of the much stiffer tests against Donegal and Kerry away while they will also be looking for to Corks visit to Castlebar in three weeks time.Match report and analysis