MAYO have crashed out of the 2018 All-Ireland senior football championship, losing to Kildare by 0-21 to 0-19 at St. Conleth's Park, Newbridge, this evening.
The 'Newbridge or Nowhere' campaign that Kildare manager Cian O'Neill and his team got firmly behind seemed to energise the home side as they started and finished well, good use of the bench in the seven minutes of injury time proving crucial as they edged a two-point win over Stephen Rochford's men.
Mayo had their chances and, even though a man down with a second yellow for Aidan O'Shea in those injury time minutes, they almost snatched it as Andy Moran's close-range free was deflected over.
In truth, though, Mayo struggled to match the hunger of Kildare all through and the Lilywhites ran out deserving winners as the westerners made their earliest exit from the championship since 2010.
Mayo came from five down – 0-7 to 0-2 – to level at 0-9 apiece at the break, Paddy Durcan with two from play, Cillian O'Connor with 0-4, all frees, and points from Andy Moran, Diarmuid O'Connor and Stephen Coen.
Neil Flynn led the way for Kildare with four points as Paul Cribben (two), Fergal Conway, Kevin Feely and Daniel Flynn (one each) all chipping in as well in that first half.
It was nip and tuck throughout the second half as Cillian O'Connor and Paddy Durcan both added a couple more to their tallies, with Jason Doherty, Eoin O'Donoghue, Kevin McLoughlin and Andy Moran all finding the target too.
Neil Flynn and Paul Cribben continued to lead the Kildare charge in the second half as they finished the stronger on a very warm evening in St. Conleth's Park. Their decision to push for the game to be played in Newbridge rather than Croke Park looks like an inspired one now.
Kildare: M. Donnellan, P. Kelly, D. Hyland, N. O'Grady, J. Byrne, E. Doyle, K. Flynn, K. Feely, T. Moolick, F. Conway, P. Cribben, K. Cribben, N. Flynn, D. Flynn, P. Brophy.
Subs used: D. Slattery, C. Healey, N. Kelly, J. Murray, E. Callaghan.
Mayo: D. Clarke, C. Barrett, G. Cafferkey, K. Higgins, L. Keegan, C. Boyle, P. Durcan, D. O'Connor, S. Coen, K. McLoughlin, A. O'Shea, J. Durcan, J. Doherty, C. O'Connor, A. Moran.
Subs used: E. O’Donoghue, D. Vaughan, C. Loftus, C. Hanley.
Ref: D. Gough (Meath).