Mayo’s Lisa Cafferky cuts through the Dublin defence during the Lidl LGFA National League Division 1 match at James Stephens Park, Ballina. Photo: David Farrell

Mayo hit by Dublin onslaught as league points return east

A real game of two halves unfolded at a very windy James Stephens Park, Ballina, with Mayo beaten 2-15 to 2-8 by Dublin in their Lidl LGFA Division 1 contest, writes Patrick Hennelly.

Mayo had the aid of an almost gale force wind during the opening half and held a whopping nine-point advantage at the change of ends, 2-7 to 0-4.

However, Mother Nature continued to play havoc with this encounter during the second half, with Dublin’s guile and creativity to the fore as they utilised the elements and outgunned their hosts to secure their first league victory of this campaign.

Mayo played some sparkling football during the opening five minutes, and Lisa Cafferky followed up an early point with a goal at the end of a sweeping attack.

After Sinead Walsh bisected the posts, Liam McHale’s side were awarded a penalty on nine minutes after the roving Tara Needham was fouled inside the danger zone. Cafferky calmly slotted home the subsequent spot kick and suddenly Mayo held a 2-2 to no score lead.

Dublin finally stopped the rot as Kate Sullivan notched their opening score from the placed ball on 14 minutes.

Two more points from Cafferky followed before Dublin opened their account from play on 20 minutes through the deadly Orlagh Nolan.

Shortly after Cafferky guided over another perfectly taken free, but Dublin very nearly snatched a first-half goal on 24 minutes when some eagle-eyed vision from Claire Kirwan resulted in the hovering Ellen Gribben receiving possession, and the Mayo custodian was mightily relieved to see the Gribben's thunderbolt crash against the crossbar. Annabelle Timothy tapped the loose ball over the bar.

Kate Sullivan added another for the All-Ireland champions, but a dominant Mayo had the final say of the half as Cafferky pointed from play and the hosts led 2-7 to 0-4 at the break.

Dublin emerged for the second half with renewed vigour and points from Timothy, the influential Sullivan and Gribben during the opening six minutes set the tone for remainder of the game.

Mayo, led by the hard-working duo of Nicola O’Malley and Danielle Caldwell, tried their level best to lift the siege but there was no stopping the now wind-assisted Dublin attack.

A point by Orlagh Nolan was the prelude to a goal on 42 minutes as Caoimhe O’Connor finishing with aplomb past Mayo 'keeper Laura Brennan, and now there were just two points separating the sides (2-7 to 1-8).

Two quick-fire frees by Kate Sullivan restored parity with 15 minutes left to play.

Mayo tried their level best to halt their opponents' new-found momentum, but the signs were ominous when the lively Timothy edged the Metropolitans in front for the first time on 47 minutes courtesy of a magnificent long-range point.

The home faithful were given a glimmer of hope when Dublin were reduced to 14 players on 49 minutes after their influential midfielder, Niamh Hetherton, was sent to the sin-bin.

However, Dublin had experienced players to step up to the mark. Half-time substitute Chloe Darby landed a skyscraper of a point before Mayo’s only score of the entire second half arrived on 59 minutes, Cafferky pointing a free to reduce the deficit to the bare minimum once again.

But Mayo’s comeback hopes suffered a setback as wing-forward Fionnuala McLoughlin picked up a yellow card on 60 minutes and was sin-binned.

Dublin upped the tempo during the closing stages of the tie and points from Nolan and the returning Hetherton were buttressed by a fortuitous goal four minutes into added time, Sullivan the scorer this time.

The visitors put the icing on the cake courtesy of a fine point from Darby, with her team-mate Ashling Nyhan’s late sin-bin mattering little in the end.

Mayo: L. Brennan; E. Needham, N. O’Malley, S. Lally; K. Sullivan, D. Caldwell, J. Mortimer; A. Geraghty, H. Reape; F. McLoughlin, A. Fitzpatrick, S. Walsh (0-1); T. Needham, F. McHale, L. Cafferkey (2-7, 1-0p, 3f).

Subs used: M. Cannon for T Needham (HT), E. Reape for Fitzpatrick (38), N. Mooney for E. Needham (42), C. Durkan for Sullivan (48), C. Doherty for Caldwell (55).

Dublin: R. Fleming; N. Crowley, L. Caffrey, N. Donlon; L. Magee, M. Byrne, K. Murray; N. Hetherton (0-1), O. Carey; C. O’Connor (1-0), O. Nolan (0-3), K. Sullivan (1-5, 3f); A. Timothy (0-3), C. Kirwan, E. Gribben (0-1).

Subs used: C. Darby (0-2) for Kirwan (HT), H. Hegarty for Murray (48), A. Nyhan for Timothy (60+2), A. Lambe for Sullivan (60+5).

Referee: S. Curley.