Conor Loftus of Mayo is tackled by Dara Moynihan of Kerry during the Allianz Football League Division 1 match at Hastings Insurance MacHale Park, Castlebar. Photo: Brendan Moran / Sportsfile

Much to admire in Mayo's sweet victory over Kerry

There was much to admire in Mayo's 2-14 to 1-10 victory over Kerry in Division 1 of the Allianz National Football League at Hastings Insurance MacHale Park this evening.

Manager Kevin McStay won't be getting carried away of course – it is only February, after all – and he will be fully aware that Kerry were far from even close to their best, but he will surely take a good degree of satisfaction from the win.

So superior were Mayo in many facets of the game that their 13-point lead (2-11 to 0-4) eight minutes into the second half was fully merited.

By then Kerry had introduced big hitters David Clifford and Sean O'Shea – both brought in as half-time subs – and over the remainder of the game the Kingdom outscored Mayo by 1-6 to 0-3, leaving a more respectable look on the scoreboard by full-time.

The damage had been done, however, and Mayo never really looked like losing the game having taken a stranglehold on proceedings in the first half.

There was some brilliant play in that opening period against what admittedly was a strangely subdued Kerry. A few early wides by the champions set the tone and while Mayo were far from perfect at the other end, they were creating more and, crucially, scoring more too.

The first killer blow was Ryan O'Donoghue's goal on nine minutes. Mayo won possession off Pa Warren following a Kerry kick-out and when he got possession, O'Donoghue jinked for space and found Shane Murphy's net with a clever finish, making it 1-2 to no score before 10 minutes had been played.

O'Donoghue himself had opened the scoring with a free before James Carr scored a monster of a mark – from all of 40 metres out – and it was from the kick-out following the latter score that the goal arrived.

Shell-shocked Kerry steadied the ship with a Darragh Roche point on 11 minutes and the same player scored the Kingdom's second after a quarter of an hour, Jordan Flynn having had found the range for Mayo in between.

There followed a 1-4 burst from Mayo that really put them in the ascendency and when Kerry next scored through Tony Brosnan on 33 minutes, there were 11 points behind.

The second Mayo goal was scored by James Carr after he had been found by Diarmuid O'Connor, and by half-time the home team were still 11 points to the good – 2-8 to 0-3 – after Jordan Flynn closed out the scoring with a neat effort following another incisive move.

Three early second-half points from Colm Reape (45'), Flynn and Carr to just one in reply from Clifford – with his first possession of the game – more or less put paid to any hopes of a Kerry comeback, though they did outscore the hosts from there until the end.

The goal from Barry O'Sullivan arrived in the final minute of regulation time, however, and Mayo weren't going to lose the game from that juncture, even if the lead was now down to a mere eight points

By the full-time whistle there were seven between the teams following a Dara Moynihan effort, but both of the league points on offer were safely tucked up in the Mayo column.

Mayo: Cormac Reape (0-2); David McBrien, Rory Brickenden, Enda Hession; Stephen Coen, Conor Loftus, Donnacha McHugh (0-1); Matthew Ruane, Diarmuid O'Connor (0-1); Fionn McDonagh, Jack Carney (0-1), Jordan Flynn (0-3); Aidan O'Shea, James Carr (1-3), Ryan O'Donoghue (1-3).

Subs used: Bob Tuohy, Cillian O'Connor, Jack Coyne, Conor McStay, Paddy Durcan.

Kerry: Shane Murphy; Graham O'Sullivan, Jason Foley, Tom O'Sullivan; Pa Warren, Tadhg Morley, Paul Murphy (0-1); Jack Barry, Barry O'Sullivan (1-0); Dara Moynihan (0-1), Paudie Clifford, Micheál Burns; Tony Brosnan (0-1), Darragh Roche (0-2), Donal O'Sullivan.

Subs used: Dylan Casey, Sean O'Shea (0-2), David Clifford (0-3), Stefan Okunbor, Killian Spillane.

Referee: Sean Hurson (Tyrone).