Monaghan muscle Mayo out of it
A win in Clones was always going to be difficult for a Mayo team who had a number of rookies on board as James Horan continues to give youth its fling.
It finished Monaghan 2-16, Mayo 0-13 in the Allianz National Football League round four game in front of a crowd of just under 8,000 on a sunny afternoon in Clones.
Monaghan's physical presence eventually overpowered a Mayo team who were down to 14 players for the last 10 minutes as Jordan Flynn - only back from a suspension picked up for a sending-off against Dublin - was flashed a second yellow card. The Crossmolina man had hardly left the pitch when Monaghan stormed downfield to score their second goal, a slam-dunk finish by their corner back Kieran Duffy, leaving Mayo 2-11 to 0-12 adrift and not a lifeboat in sight.
Mayo's only other reward for the the remainder of the game, which included four minutes of injury-time, was a point from Charelstown's Paul Towey, who enhanced the reputation he garnered this year at Under 20 level with an excellent point from play, but by then Monaghan were eight points clear and had the points in the bag.
Mayo played with a lot more verve in the first half but once again the shortcomings in attack were evident, although Darren Coen finished with 0-3 on his return to action for this first game since last summer. In general, however, too much ball was taken into contact with a solid Monaghan defence.
Two of Mayo's first-half points came from their most impressive defenders. Padraig O'Hora got them off the mark on three minuets, while Oisin Mullin marked his return to action from the Under 20 ranks with an excellent score and was on the short-list for man of the match had Mayo managed to win.
But Mayo's half-back line was not as a secure it might have been and the crucial score of that first half came on 26 minutes when Monaghan's top foward, Conor McCarthy, fired past Robbie Hennelly to put them into a 1-4 to 0-6 lead, although Mayo were on level terms at the break at 0-8 to 1-5.
Twice Monaghan went three clear in the second half but Mayo were hanging on, and in their best spell they had it back to two points - and that could have been one but for Stephen Coen's poor attempt from an advanced mark.
Moments later Flynn picked up his second yellow card and that killer second goal arrived.
Aidan O'Shea was named as captain for the year today and the Breaffy man will need to call on all his leadership qualities, starting on Saturday night when Kerry come to Castlebar no doubt determined to avenge the defeat to Mayo which cost them the National League title last March.
Mayo are still the defending champions but their chances of holding on to the trophy have all but disappeared as survival now becomes the biggest challenge for James Horan and his men.
Monaghan: R. Beggan (0-1, 1f), D. Wylie, C. Boyle (0-1), K. Duffy (1-0), K. O’Connell (0-1), R. Wylie, M. Bannigan, D. Hughes, N. Kearns (0-1), R. McAnespie, C. McCarthy (1-3), D. Ward, D. Malone, K. Hughes, C. McManus (0-6, 4f).
Subs used: J. McCarron (0-2, 1f) for Malone (40), C. Walshe for D. Wylie (54), S. Carey (0-1) for Bannigan (60), P. Keenan for Kearns (72).
Mayo: R. Hennelly, P. O’Hora (0-1), O. Mullin (0-1), L. Keegan, S. Coen, M. Plunkett, P. Durcan, J. Flynn (0-1), A. O’Shea, F. Boland, R. O’Donoghue (0-1), D. O’Connor (0-1, 1f), K. McLoughlin (0-3, 2f), D. Coen (0-3), J. Durcan (0-1, 1f).
Subs used: T. Conroy for Boland (ht), K. Higgins for James Durcan (59), P. Towey (0-1) for Coen (65), E. O’Donoghue for Plunkett (70), C. Loftus for R. O’Donoghue (70).
Referee: Anthony Nolan (Wicklow).