Mayo survive Kildare scare to reach the quarterfinals
A storming final quarter that included two fabulous goals saw Mayo defeat Kildare in the All-Ireland SFC round two qualifiers by 2-13 to 0-14 at Croke Park this evening.
Between the 10th and 65th minutes Mayo trailed the beaten Leinster finalists but they came good when it mattered most, the goals – from Oisin Mullin and substitute Jordan Flynn – helping them to secure a five-point win and a place in the last eight.
Inspired by Mullin and his full-back line partners Lee Keegan (who landed two points) and Enda Hession, and helped in no small part by substitutes Fergal Boland, Darren McHalej, Padraig O'Hora and Flynn, Mayo were good value for the win in the end, even though they made it look like hard work for long periods.
In fairness, it was hard work as Kildare put in a tremendous shift. Determined no doubt to wipe away the memory of a heavy Leinster final defeat to Dublin, the Lilywhites had Mayo in trouble at times, especially in the first half, at the end of which they enjoyed an 0-8 to 0-5 lead.
The Green and Red still trailed by three (0-10 to 0-13) with an hour played but from there until the end tacked on 2-3 to a single Kildare point to secure the victory.
The first half was marked by uncharacteristic waywardness on both sides. It started with a mark by Daniel Flynn coming off the upright and continued with a couple of wides and a mark kicked short
by Mayo, with misplaced passes thrown in by both teams for good measure.
Jack Carney opened the scoring to put Mayo a point up in the seventh minute but Kildare responded with four in a row, the final of those easily the best as Kevin Feely let fly with great accuracy from distance – under little pressure, it must be admitted.
A Cillian O'Connor free reduced the deficit but Kevin O'Callaghan responded in kind, and Mayo were in need of inspiration. Who better than Lee Keegan to provide it, the Westport man sauntering upfield to make it a two-point game again (0-3 to 0-5) before the half-hour mark.
Two quick Kildare frees stretched their advantage to four but Mayo rallied with two scores in reply, both scored by Eoghan McLaughlin. The second would have been a goal but for the excellent intervention of Kildare 'keeper Aaron O'Neill, and his side took advantage of the let-off by adding a free to their tally before the half-time whistle. It left the score at the break reading 0-8 to 0-5 in Kildare's favour.
It looked as though Mayo were in serious trouble when Kildare started with three points in a row in the second half, but the Connacht men responded in kind as the Lilywhites retreated and moved every man into his own half.
Once Mayo found the key to unlock that packed defence they made it count, Mullin playing a one-two with substitute Padraig O'Hora before blasting the ball past Aaron O'Neill to level things up at 1-10 to 0-13.
A Fergal Boland point on 65 minutes had Mayo in front for the first time since the 10th and while Kildare levelled again, Mayo dominated the remaining minutes to add 1-2, the goal a lob from Flynn deep in injury time wtih O'Neill a long way off his line.
The reward now for Mayo is an All-Ireland quarterfinal in two weeks' time.
Mayo: Rob Hennelly; Lee Keegan (0-2), Oisín Mullin (1-0), Enda Hession; Paddy Durcan, Stephen Coen, Eoghan McLaughlin (0-2); Aidan O’Shea, Matthew Ruane; Diarmuid O'Connor (0-1), Jason Doherty, Conor Loftus (0-1); James Carr, Jack Carney (0-1), Cillian O'Connor (0-3).
Subs used: Fergal Boland (0-2), Darren McHale (0-1), Jordan Flynn (1-0), Padraig O'Hora, Aiden Orme.
Kildare: Aaron O'Neill; Mick O'Grady, Shea Ryan (0-1), Ryan Houlihan; Darragh Malone (0-1), David Hyland, Kevin Flynn; Kevin Feely (0-1), Kevin O'Callaghan (0-2); Alex Beirne, Ben McCormack (0-1), Fergal Conway; Neil Flynn (0-1), Daniel Flynn (0-1), Jimmy Hyland (0-6).
Subs used: Paul Cribbin, Darragh Kirwan, Paddy McDermott, Brian McLoughlin.
Referee: Derek O'Mahoney (Tipperary).
*See Tuesday's print edition for a full report and reaction