Mayo depart Monaghan with two valuable league points
Mayo leave St. Tiernach's Park in Clones with two valuable league points following a 2-10 to 1-11 victory over Monaghan on a brisk February afternoon.
Goals in either half by Ryan O'Donoghue and Jason Doherty proved decisive as Mayo survived a late scare to collect three points from a possible four from their first two league games.
Monaghan led 1-8 to 1-7 at the break and the scores were scarce on the turnaround, but that goal from Doherty in addition to points by O'Donoghue (two frees) and Conor Loftus made the difference.
The home side will rue some wayward shooting, especially from frees, as they could only muster three points after the break from Shane Carey (free), Andrew Woods and substitute Conor McManus (free).
In all, however, they left seven possible points from frees behind them through a variety of shooters over the course of the afternoon. Not that anyone from Mayo was complaining with that statistic.
Five times in the first half they either kicked a free short, wide or, on one occasion, off the upright, and it allowed Mayo to keep pace with them.
In fact, the game went largely score for score after Gary Mohan's opener on three minutes. Rob Hennelly was soon called into action to deny Mícheál Bannigan but the first goal was scored at the other end after Aiden Orme made use of fortuitously won possession to find O'Donoghue and one quick jink later, the Belmullet man was left with a big target. He simply placed the ball into the bottom right corner past Rory Beggan.
Fionn McDonagh followed up with a point after the kick-out but any suggestion that Mayo were going to streak away was quashed as Jack McCarron palmed the ball in from close range following Bannigan's great burst up the right-hand side.
From there to half-time Monaghan just slightly edged the scoring, adding seven points to Mayo's six. On target for the home side were McCarron (two, one free), Andrew Woods (two), Shane Carey, Karl O'Connell and Mohan (mark), while O'Donoghue (four, two frees), Conor O'Shea and Diarmuid O'Connor found the range for the visitors, leaving the game nicely poised for the second period.
There wasn't much by the way of scores after the break but the intensity heightened, the one moment of magic, initiated by Mayo substitute Jordan Flynn, saw Jason Doherty finish the ball low to the net for what turned out to be the decisive score, with the visitors surviving that scare right at the death – Paddy Durcan denying Ryan McAnespie from close range – to claim the full quota of points on offer.
The only downside, in a week where Mayo lost Tommy Conroy to injury, was a knock to Eoghan McLaughlin that necessitated a stretched to get him off the pitch. Scans this week will reveal the seriousness of the injury.
Monaghan: R. Beggan; K. Duffy, C. Boyle, R. Wylie; R. McAnespie, D. Ward, C. McCarthy; D. Hughes, N. Kearns; K. O'Connell, M. Bannigan, S. Carey (0-3); J. McCarron (1-2), G. Mohan (0-2), A. Woods (0-3).
Subs used: C. McManus (0-1), S. Hanratty, A. Mulligan, D. Garland, K. Lavelle.
Mayo: R. Hennelly; B. Harrison, P. O'Hora, L. Keegan; P. Durcan, M. Plunkett, E. McLaughlin; C. O'Shea, S. Coen; F. McDonagh (0-1), D. O'Connor (0-1), B. Walsh; A. Orme, J. Doherty (1-0), R. O'Donoghue (1-6).
Subs used: A. O'Shea, R. Brickenden, C. Loftus (0-1), J. Flynn, D. McHugh.