THIRTEEN-man Kerry handed Mayo a lesson in point-scoring as this evening's visitors to Elverys MacHale Park scored 1-14 from play to win by 1-15 to 2-09.
To pour even more misery on Mayo’s poor home record in the Allianz National League, the Kingdom managed to avenge both last year’s league and championship defeats at the hands of Mayo with 13 men as they lost two of their defenders for the last 15 minutes of what was at times a tempestuous game with a lot of skirmishes, several off the ball incidents and a plethora of cards of varying colours, including black, yellow and red.
Mayo didn’t play well enough to deserve anything from this game, particularly up front as their forwards found it hard to penetrate that Kerry defence, while at the other end, the Kerry attack was just buzzing.
Kerry wanted the win more and went after it, a bit too robustly at times, but it came down to the greater desire and the visitors made it clear from the start that they meant business.
Yet the sides were level four minutes into the second half when Diarmuid O’Connor made it 2-4 to 0-10 from a free, the Ballintubber man having scored Mayo’s two goals in the first half.
But the big score of the game came from centre-back Gavin Crowley, who finished a very good move to the net. It was a goal which left Mayo chasing the game for all of the second half.
When Crowley (black card followed by a red) and Ronan Shanahan (second yellow) were sent to the line, it looked as if the door would open wide for Mayo but they needed another goal to have any chance of getting something from this game and the one great chance they had fell to Eoin O’Donoghue who had his goalbound shot cleared off the line by Kerry defender Mark Enright.
Kerry must have been scratching their collective head at the break having let a five-point lead slip from their grasp and also failing to convert a penalty.
The man mainly responsible for keeping Mayo in touch was Diarmuid O’Connor, who scored two goals, the second from then penalty spot just before half-time, and with the last kick of the first half Jason Doherty hit a terrific free to leave just a point between the sides, 0-10 to 2-3.
But that first half was very much about the Kerry forwards showcasing their class, with Barry John Keane, Paul Geaney, the superb Sean O’Shea and Michael Burns all finding the target, Keane nailing three points as Mayo’s defence struggled at times,
Kerry also saw David Clarke save brilliantly from a penalty from Sean O’Shea which would have put them into a six-point lead had Clarke not got down to save.
Mayo: D. Clarke, B. Harrison, G. Cafferkey, E. O’Donoghue, S. Nally, S. Coen, P. Durcan, J. Gibbons, B. Moran (0-1), K. McLoughlin, A. O’Shea, D. O’Connor (2-1, 1-0 pen, 1f ), N. Douglas, E. Regan (0-1f), J. Doherty (0-3f).
Subs used: C. Crowe for Cafferkey (24), C. O’Connor (0-2f) for Regan (44, inj), A. Moran (0-1) for Douglas (50), C. Boyle for Nally (50), F. Boland for B. Moran (60), C. Loftus for Doherty (72).
Kerry: S. Murphy, B. Ó Beaglaoich, J. Foley, S. Enright, P. Murphy (0-1), G. Crowley (1-0), R. Shanahan, J. Barry, B. O’Sullivan (0-1), M. Burns (0-2), S. O’Shea (0-4, 1 45'), S. O’Brien, D. Clifford (0-1), P. Geaney (0-3), B.J. Keane (0-3)
Subs used: J. Savage for Clifford (inj, 15), B. O’Sullivan (0-1) for O’Brien (43).
Referee: D. O’Mahoney (Tipperary).