Aidan O'Shea, who played a big part in Mayo's victory, in action against Gavin Cooney of Clare in their Allianz National Football League Division 2 semi-final at Cusack Park, Ennis. Photo: Brendan Moran / Sportsfile

Mayo's victory over Clare earns promotion back to Division 1

The objective was a return to Division 1 of the Allianz National Football League for 2022 and credit to Mayo, they achieved it in the end with a 2-22 to 2-18 victory over Clare at Cusack Park, Ennis, this afternoon.

It was closer than Mayo might have hoped for, however, as they enjoyed an 11-point advantage at the break, 2-13 to 0-8, but were reeled back in by a never-say-die Clare outfit looking to get back to top division for the first time since 1996.

It was a blistering start as Cillian O'Connor (free) and Matthew Ruane put Mayo two ahead before Clare blasted back into contention with points from Gavin Cooney, Cathal O'Connor and Eoin Cleary.

After 10 minutes it looked as though an upset might be on the card as further points from Cleary (free) and David Tubridy, a wonderful score, had Clare two clear, Ryan O'Donoghue with Mayo's third point from an advanced mark.

While Tommy Conroy narrowed the gap to just one, Mayo were now without Diarmuid O'Connor who departed with a leg injury. However, his replacement, Jordan Flynn, made a huge intervention straight away to set Mayo off for the leveller, taking a big hit in the process. Conroy split the posts to make it 0-5 each, and from there until half-time Mayo assumed a huge degree of control, rattling off 2-8 to just 0-3 in reply.

Cillian O'Connor scored the first goal from the penalty spot after he had been taken down en route to goal, while in a display akin to total football, full-backs Enda Hession and Oisin Mullin were heavily involved in the move that led to the second goal, which was eventually scored by the latter after Conroy had made a telling surge through the Clare rearguard.

Late in the half Cillian O'Connor, like his brother earlier, departed the field with injury, and it left Mayo without two influential figures for the second period.

That second period was mostly about Clare as they came back at Mayo and, with the help of goals by Darren O'Neill and Gavin Cooney and some inspirational points from substitute Emmet McMahon, had the gap at just three points with additional time all that remained.

That's when Mayo's experience came to the fore, however, as they played keep-ball and landed an insurance point when captain Paddy Durcan split the posts with no time left for a comeback, the final score reading 2-22 to 2-18 in the Connaught team's favour.

Clare: Stephen Ryan; Ciarán Russell, Cillian Brennan, Eoghan Collins; Cian O'Dea, Seán Collins, Daniel Walsh; Darren O'Neill, Cathal O'Connor; Pearse Lillis, Eoin Cleary, Darragh Bohannan; Gavin Cooney, Joe McGann, David Tubridy. Subs used: Conal Ó Hainfein, Conor Jordan, Padraic Collins, Aaron Griffin, Emmet McMahon, Keelan Sexton, Cillian Rouine.

Mayo: Rob Hennelly; Enda Hession, Oisin Mullin, Lee Keegan ; Rory Brickenden, Paddy Durcan, Stephen Coen; Matthew Ruane, Diarmuid O'Connor; Kevin McLoughlin, Aidan O'Shea, Bryan Walsh; Tommy Conroy, Cillian O'Connor, Ryan O'Donoghue. Subs used: Jordan Flynn, Paul Towey, Darren McHale, Eoin O'Donoghue, Conor Loftus, Eoghan McLaughlin.