Sinead Walsh scores Mayo's first goal despite the efforts of Shelly Twohig (12) and Roisin McCafferty of Donegal. Photo: Sam Barnes / Sportsfile

Mayo top group to set up semi-final against Meath

Mayo ended their Lidl Ladies National Football League Division 1A group campaign with a 100% record thanks to a 2-7 to 1-7 victory over Donegal at the Connacht GAA Centre of Excellence, Bekan, this afternoon.

As a result of this victory, Mayo will now meet reigning All-Ireland champions Meath in the league semi-final, which will be played next Saturday week. Donegal, meanwhile, will face Dublin, Division 1B table-toppers, in the other semi-final.

This game was highly competitive throughout, with the result very much in doubt right up to the final whistle. However, there was no denying Mayo deserved to come out on top as over the course of the hour they were the better side.

Both sides took some time to settle into this encounter where there was only one score, a point from Donegal’s Susanne White, in the opening nine minutes. However, once Sinead Walsh opened Mayo’s account in the ninth minute with a well-taken point, Michael Moyles' team began to take charge.

A delightful point from Sarah Mulvihill put Mayo into the lead for the first time in the 12th minute. As things were to transpire, it was a lead they would never lose.

Another brilliant point from Lisa Cafferky left Mayo leading by 0-3 to 0-1 at the first water break, and immediately on the resumption matters got much better for Mayo when they scored the opening goal of the game. A long delivery by Mulvihill was brilliantly won by Walsh and the centre-forward finished to the Donegal net.

Sinead Cafferky followed with a fine point before Mayo scored their second goal of the game in the 29th minute. This time it was team captain Kathryn Sullivan made a great run out of defence before passing to Walsh who in turn set-up Shauna Howley to send a powerful drive to the net.

Leading by nine points, it looked as if Mayo now had a foothold on the game. However, in the closing moment of the half they were rocked when Donegal scored 1-1 inside 30 seconds. Karen Guthrie pointed a free before Shelly Twohig won the kick-out and raced through to plant the ball in the back the Mayo net.

All of a sudden Mayo's lead was cut from nine points to five, 2-4 to 1-2, at half-time.

In the second half it was a real cat and mouse affair. Donegal, who defended in big numbers, tried to catch Mayo on the counter-attack. This tactic seemed to pay off in the third quarter as they outscored Mayo by four points to one to leave just two between the sides as the game entered the final quarter.

However, in the final quarter, Mayo regained control with points from Aoife Geraghty (a magnificent effort) and Howley (free) to finally see off the Donegal challenge.

In the closing moments, Donegal threw everything at Mayo but their only reward was a point from a free by Karen Guthrie.

It was another fine win for Mayo, who will now go head-to-head with All-Ireland champions Meath in under two weeks' time.