Mayo captain Aidan O'Shea congratulates Eoin O'Donoghue at the end of an exciting encounter at Clones. Photo: Sportsfile.

Mayo off to flying start in National League


Mayo .............. 0-13

Monaghan  ......0-12


MAYO got their Allianz National League campaign off to a flying start with a one-point victory over Monaghan at St. Tiernans Park, Clones, today.

This victory for Mayo, who were short a number of the team which played in the All-Ireland final against Dublin last September including Keith Higgins, Donal Vaugha, Chris Barrett, Seamus O'Shea, Tom Parsons and Jason Doherty, sets them up nicely for their remaining six games in the group stages of the league.

Winning the opening round game in the league, which Mayo have failed to do in recent years, eases the thoughts of relegation.

With this good away victory all roads will lead to Elverys MacHale Park, Castlebar, next Saturday for the second round games clash against Kerry. With Kerry also getting off to start in the league by beating Donegal by a point, it adds greatly to this mouth-watering encounter.

Going up to Clones to play Monaghan was never going to be an easy task for Mayo or indeed anyother county team. But what was always going to a tough and physical challenge for Mayo, they rose to this challenge with flying colours.

Mayo laid the foundation for their win in the opening half when playing against the wind. Time and time again they traded points with their opponents and at any stage didn't allow their opponents go anymore than two points in front.

By the time half-time arrived Mayo went in on level terms, 0-7 each. After Andy Moran got their opening score, Evan Regan kicked four more, three from frees, with Eoin O'Donohue and Neill Douglas also raising white flags.

However, it was the brilliant defending of the Mayo backs in this opening half which was most pleasing. In particular the full-back line of Brendan Harrision, Ger Cafferkey and the very impressive Eoin O'Donoghue, were extremely pleasing.

Also from a Mayo point of view the performances of Neil Douglas and Evan Regan up front was also very encouraging.

After Mayo's fine opening half it gave them every chance of coming away with two valuable league points on the resumption, especially as they would be favoured by the very strong breeze. However, Monaghan never go down easily and they again showed their battling qualities in the second half after going behind by three points on two occasions.

It was Mayo wing back Paddy Durcan who had the first and last say in this enthralling second-half. He put Mayo into the lead at the start of the half and landed the match winner in the closing moments with another superb strike. In between these scores Douglas, with three, and Regan one, were the other Mayo scorers.

In the end it was hard earned victory for Mayo but one that sets them on their way for the season ahead. Should they get a second win against Kerry next Saturday night it would leave them in a great position for the rest of the league.

Mayo: D. Clarke, B. Harrison, G. Cafferkey, E. O'Donoghue (0-1), C. Boyle, S. Coen, P. Durcan (0-2), J. Gibbons, S. Nally, K. McLoughlin, A. O'Shea, D. O'Connor, N. Douglas (0-4), E. Regan (0-5), A Moran (0-1).

Subs used: C. O'Connor, A. Gallagher, C. Loftus, S. Akram, G. McDonagh.

Monaghan: R. Beggan, C. Boyle, B. Kerr, R. Wylie, K. Duffy, P. McGuirk, K. O'Connell (0-2), D. Hughes, N. Kearns (0-2), O. Duffy, F. Kelly, R. McAnespie, C. McCarthy (0-3), J. McCarron (0-3), D. Garland (0-2).

Subs used: P. McKenna, D. Malone, D. Freeman, C. Walshe, D. Wylie, D. Ward.

Referee: D. Gough (Meath).