Gavin White of Kerry in action against Michael Plunkett of Mayo during the Allianz National Football League Division 1 final at Croke Park, Dublin. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

Mayo suffer heavy defeat in Division 1 league decider

If we thought – or at least hoped – that the days of Mayo suffering heavy defeats at the hands of Kerry in Croke Park were a thing of the past, today's 3-19 to 0-13 league final victory for the Kingdom will force us to reassess.

Jack O'Connor's charges answered a few questions out on the hallowed turf this afternoon and backed up the belief that they are favourites for the All-Ireland title. On this evidence, they would appear to have the best credentials to land the Sam Maguire this year for sure.

They were full value for the Division 1 title on Sunday, putting Mayo to the sword with a stinging defeat just three weeks out from the start of the championship.

Mayo were rocked from the start with the absence of Oisin Mullin, his place at centre half-back taken by Rory Brickenden, with Paul Towey taking up a spot on the bench. Conor McStay was drafted into the squad to take his place on the bench too in place of Eoghan McLaughlin.

The first half left one with a 'not great but could have been a whole lot worse' feeling from a Mayo point of view.

That Kerry had breached Mayo's goal just once had a bit to do with excellent defending by Enda Hessions and superb goalkeeping by Rory Byrne, the former getting back to prevent a Paudie Clifford effort from crossing the line just five minutes in and the latter denying the same Kerry forward late in the half.

In between, Byrne – Mayo's best player in the first half – did his utmost to deny Gavin White but the Kerry wing-back followed up to punch the rebound into the net to put his team into a 1-7 to 0-4 lead on 24 minutes.

Mayo were struggling to cope with Kerry's lines of running and ability to break the tackle, but some superb points, most notably by James Carr, kept them clinging on.

There was no let-up from Kerry after the half-time break, however. They were able to resist any attempted Mayo fight back and the second half was perhaps best summed up by the fact that they out-scored their opponents by four points to one at a time when midfielder Diarmuid O'Connor was serving 10 minutes in the sin bin.

By the time he re-entered the fray, his team was as good as home and hosed as they were 1-18 to 0-11 ahead.

The icing on the cake came in the form of a brilliant David Clifford goal soon afterwards, while Kerry's day was complete when Jason Foley snuck forward to nick a third deep into injury time.

The only filip for Mayo was the return of Cillian O'Connor to the field of play, the Ballintubber man landing one of just six points scored by the Green and Red after the break.

Mayo have plenty to work on ahead of their Connacht championship contest with Galway in three weeks' time, though with the Tribesmen also suffering disappointment in the Division 2 final, they have wounds to lick too.

Mayo: Rory Byrne; Lee Keegan, Stephen Coen, Padraig O'Hora; Michael Plunkett (0-2), Rory Brickenden, Enda Hession; Jordan Flynn (0-1), Matthew Ruane (0-1); Conor Loftus (0-1), Aidan O'Shea, Jack Carney; James Carr (0-2), Jason Doherty, Ryan O'Donoghue (0-5).

Subs used: Kevin McLoughlin, Conor O’Shea, Aiden Orme, Cillian O’Connor (0-1), Darren McHale.

Kerry: Shane Ryan (0-1); Graham O'Sullivan, Jason Foley (1-0), Tom O'Sullivan; Gavin White (1-0), Tadhg Morley, Brian Ó Beaglaíoch; Diarmuid O'Connor, Jack Barry (0-1); Dara Moynihan (0-1), Paudie Clifford (0-1), Adrian Spillane (0-2); Stephen O'Brien (0-1), David Clifford (1-6), Paul Geaney (0-5).

Subs used: Tony Brosnan, Gavin Crowley, Micheál Burns, Joe O'Connor, Jack Savage.

Referee: Noel Mooney (Cavan).