What passed for a performance in Ballyshannon was an appalling mess of errors and a display which had the alarm bells ringing from a team that struggled in virtually every department.
To compound mattersm Mayo failed to come up with a plan in the second half to cash in on their numerical advantage when Donegal were reduced to 14 men for the entire second half.
The fact that Mayo failed to score in that second half until goalkeeper David Clarke kicked a ’45, five minutes from time, is also an indictment of an attack which lacked any bite or penetration, Michael Conroy, a late substitute, adding Mayo’s only other score for the second half in the closing minutes.
A tight pitch and some poor refereeing didn’t help Mayo but these excuses could hardly be proffered for this insipid performance from a Mayo team who seemed to drop the heads as Donegal’s physical presence in so many areas pushed the Connaught champions aside.
To make matters worse, the number of errors Mayo made in this game beggared belief, with players losing possession, over-carrying the ball and taking too many wrong options.
At times Mayo looked leaden-footed and lost, and only for some fine goalkeeping by Clarke and some excellent cover by Keith Higgins in particular, the final margin could wel have been a lot greater.
But it was Mayo who got on the board first stride with Andy Moran popping up all over the pitch and spraying some good ball into the forward line.
After 19 minutes Mayo had built a store of 1-3 to Donegal’s single point the goal arriving on eight minutes after good work from Andy Moran, Alan Freeman and Conor Mortimer, the latter, who had a nightmare of a game, threading the ball through to the unmarked Enda Varley who slotted home from close range.
Kevin McLoughlin’s opening point from play and a fine effort from Alan Dillon suggested Mayo were up to the task in hand, and when Mortimer stroked over the first of his three frees, they had gone five points clear.
Michael Murphy, who was well held by Ger Cafferkey in the fist half, finally hit the target and the big full-forward was to prove a major force for Donegal in the second half in particular, Cafferkey eventually picking up second yellow with 15 minutes remaining and unable to contain the big Donegal man.
Colm McFadden, who nailed some terrific frees, had the lead pared back to three points before Murphy added another free and another from McFadden made it a one-point game, the referring of Marty Duffy certainly not doing any favours for Mayo given some of his questionable calls.
Conor Mortimer’s 35th minute free gave Mayo a two-point lead heading for the second half as the first half ended in drama when Donegal midfielder Rory Kavanaugh was brandished a straight red after he struck out at Kevin McLoughlin.
Little did we realise it was the team with the man down who were to turn the heat up for the second half as Donegal had the strong wind in their favour and that, along with their determination and hard graft, more than compensated for being a man short.
But it was Donegal’s defensive covering and midfield industry which paved the way for a string of points as they did what Mayo failed to when they had the wind, fire the ball in long and early.
In Murphy Donegal had a ball-winner as the Mayo defence and the half-back line in particular was pulled all over the place, a plethora of yellow cards signalling Mayo’s frustration and their inability to cope with the Donegal pressing game.
By the time David Clarke was called forward to kick Mayo’s first point of the second half Donegal had gone 0-15 o 1-5 clear and with five minutes remaining it was game, set and match for the home side.
For Mayo it is a long look in the mirror ahead of Sunday’s meeting with Cork.
Scorers for Donegal: C. McFadden 0-7 (5f), M. Murphy 0-5 (2f), P. McBrearty 0-2, M. McHugh, K. Lacey, L. McCloone 0-1 each.
Scorers for Mayo: C. Mortimer 0-3 (3f), E. Varley 1-0, A. Moran, A. Dillon, D. Clarke and M. Conroy 0-1 each.
Donegal: P. Durcan, F. McGlynn, E. McGee, P. McGrath, A. Thompson, K. Lacey, L. McLoone, R. Kavanagh, N. Gallagher, M. McHugh, R. Bradley, M. O'Reilly, C. McFadden, M. Murphy, P. McBrearty.
Subs used: M McElhinney for O'Reilly (h-t), D. Molloy for Bradley (55), D. Walsh for McBrearty (69).
Mayo. D. Clarke, K Keane, G. Cafferkey, K. Higgins, P. Gardiner, D. Vaughan, L. Keegan, S O'Shea, B. Moran, K. McLoughlin, A. Moran, A. Dillon, C. Mortimer, A. Freeman, E. Varley.
Subs used: P. Harte for Freeman (h-t), R. Feeney for Keegan (43), C O'Connor for Varley (60), J. Doherty for McLoughlin (69), M. Conroy for Mortimer (69).
Referee: M. Duffy (Sligo).
MAYO’S second half collapse and their failure to come up with a plan to combat a Donegal side that had been reduced to 14 men for the entire second half.
Mayo were also reduced to 14 men when Ger Cafferkey was sent off having picked up a second yellow card, but at that stage Donegal were four points ahead and steering a clear path to victory.
A MASSIVE point from Patrick McBrearty put Donegal into the lead for the first time nine minutes into the second half. The score seemed to lift the home side and Mayo heads appeared to drop.
CORK come to town on Sunday with five points on the board and on the evidence of their second half performance against Kerry they will be difficult to beat.
Another defeat for Mayo could spell disaster in terms of their division one league status and this is a game that will put manager James Horan and his charges under serious pressure.