Big win ensures Mayo of their place in the Division 1 final
Donegal supporters left Ballybofey in marked contrast to their Mayo counterparts having seen their team suffer a 0-9 to 1-17 reversal in Division 1 of the Allianz National Football League.
The result leaves Donegal staring down the barrel of Division 2 football for 2024, barring a miracle in the final round next weekend.
The Tir Chonaill men have a fixture away to Roscommon with much work to do. Down the road in Castlebar, Mayo will take to the Hastings Insurance MacHale Park turf happy in the knowledge that they are safely through to the league final, confirmation of that fact coming with today's victory in Ballybofey.
Manager Kevin McStay was quick to quell any suggestion that Mayo might take it easy against Monaghan next Sunday, even though the Division 1 final will be played just seven days later.
And on the evidence of today's game, McStay et al won't let Mayo go lightly against Monaghan, who also have lingering relegation worries following defeat to Tyrone this afternoon.
McStay's men were much the superior force in Ballybofey. They enjoyed a five-point advantage by the break – 0-11 to 0-6 – and though they weren't the team badly in need of victory, they played with more tempo and purpose than the hosts for long periods of that first half.
Donegal, by contrast, were living off scraps much of the time. While the high delivery to Hugh McFadden caused a few problems, by and large David McBrien handled the threat well.
Kieran Thompson, a man not named in the programme at all, was Donegal's main driving force in the first half, scoring three points (one free, one mark and one from play), with Michael Langan landing two (one free), their first-half tally having been opened by flying wing-back Eoghan Ban Gallagher.
Mayo had a greater spread of scores but the man who really caught the eye was Matthew Ruane, who landed three beauties from play.
Aidan O'Shea, who had the beating of Brendan McCole all day and ended up being named man of the match, also scored three, including two marks, while Ryan O'Donoghue, though not quite exerting his usual influence, got in for two points (one free).
With further scores from Colm Reape (45'), Jack Carney and Paddy Durcan, Mayo were good value for their half-time advantage on a sticky day in Ballybofey.
There was no let up in the second half and Ryan O'Donoghue's goal just two minutes into the new period killed the game as a contest.
With points tacked on by Jordan Flynn (two), Durcan, O'Shea (free), O'Donoghue and substitute Paul Towey, Mayo ended up taking the second half spoils by 1-6 to 0-3. In addition, a number of subs got a healthy run-out on what was a pleasing day for all involved with the squad.
Mayo now have two more weekends of league games – the final round of regular fixtures next Sunday and the Division 1 decider the Sunday after – before the championship starts with a Connacht quarterfinal against Roscommon this day three weeks. It's all go for Mayo supporters, who wouldn't want it any other way.
Mayo: Colm Reape (0-1); Jack Coyne, David McBrien, Sam Callinan; Stephen Coen, Conor Loftus, Paddy Durcan (0-2); Matthew Ruane (0-3), Diarmuid O'Connor; Fionn McDonagh, Jack Carney (0-1), Jordan Flynn (0-2); Aidan O'Shea (0-4), James Carr, Ryan O'Donoghue (1-3).
Subs used: Tommy Conroy, Kevin McLoughlin, Padraig O'Hora, Bob Tuohy, Paul Towey (0-1).
Donegal: Shaun Patton; Mark Curran, Caolan Ward, Caolan McColgan; Kieran Thompson (0-3), Brendan McCole, Eoghan Ban Gallagher (0-1); Caolan McGonagle, Jason McGee; Michael Langan (0-3), Daire Ó Baoill, Conor O'Donnell; Hugh McFadden, Peadar Mogan, Jamie Brennan (0-1).
Subs used: Oisin Gallen (0-1), Jeaic McKelvey, Rory O'Donnell, Kane Barrett, Joe Bradley Walsh.
Referee: Sean Hurson.