Captain O’Connor leads Mayo to first national title in 18 years

Story by John Melvin

Sunday, 31st March, 2019 7:33pm

Captain O’Connor leads Mayo to first national title in 18 years

Diarmuid O'Connor celebrates scoring his side's second goal

Mayo ..... 3-11

Kerry .......2-10


MAYO’S eighteen years wait for a national trophy finally ended in dramatic fashion at Croke Park today where they finally buried the ghosts of so many past defeats by bringing home the National League title.

In an amazing turnaround in the second half a superb goal by Matthew Ruane lit the fire under Mayo, while the a superb goal from Diarmuid O’Connor put Mayo in control with six minutes remaining - 2-11 to 2-8.

It seemed they had done enough but Kerry were not going away

For Mayo, it appears, nothing is achieved without drama, Kerry fighting back to within a point before a brilliant save from Robbie Hennelly denied David Clifford what could have been a match-winning goal on 69 minutes.

But there was even more drama in four minutes of injury- time when substute Kieran Treacy finally killed off Kerry with Mayo’s third goal.

.It was an amazing second half performance by Mayo who worked themslves into the grourd,

The defence, under pressure for long periods in the first first half, really put in some big challenges at vital stages.

But, at the end of the day, it was Mayo’s courage and tenacity which finally saw them emerge as deserving winners and finally put so many disappointing days in Croke Park behind them .

Two well executed goals gave Kerry a solid platform of 2-3 to 0-5 at half-time but, given the strength of hat wind at their backs for the second half, Mayo were certainly not without hope.

However, Mayo had a terrific goal chance of their own when Donie Vaughan found himself one-on-one with the Kerry goalkeeper Shane Ryan, who produced a stunning save.

Fergal Boland also had a half chance but opted to fist over the bar with Ryan out of his area but it was a difficult angle and Boland perhaps chose the best option.

Mayo were fast out of the blocks and had taken a lead of 0-3 to 0-1 when Kerry struck for that first goal which was finished by wing-back Gavin Crowley.

Boland, Paddy Durcan and Matthew Ruane had hit the target for Mayo but it was just a two-point game, thanks to a fine score by Jason Doherty, when Stephen O’Brien’s struck for Kerry’s second goal on 25 minutes.

Mayo had a lot of ball for the closing 10 minutes of the half but found it very difficult to breakdown that Kerry defence.

The question was whether Mayo could use that strong wind effectively in the second half.

What we didn’t anticipate was three Mayo goals and it was O’Connor- anonymous for most of that first half - who announced his arrival with a brilliant second half display, his goal, and Mayo’s second proving to be the big turning ppint four minutes from time before Treacy's clincher.

By that point the influential Aidan O'Shea has departed the scene after picking up a second yellow card. 

Mayo: R. Hennelly, C. Barrett, B. Harrison, K. Higgins, P. Durcan (0-1), L. Keegan, D. Vaughan, M. Ruane (1-1). A. O’Shea, F. Boland (0-2), J. Doherty (0-2, 1f), D. O’Connor (1-2), K. McLoughlin (0-1), D. Coen 0-1), J. Carr (0-2).

Subs used: A. Moran, C. Boyle, E. Regan, C. Treacy (1-0).

Kerry: S. Ryan, P, Crowley J. Sherwood, G. O’Sullivan,. A. Crowley (1-1), .P Murphy, T. O’Sullivan, J. Barry (0-1), D. O’Connor, D. Moynihan, S.O’ Shea (0-5, 5f), S. O’Brien (1-O), D. Clifford (0-2), T. Walsh, K. McCarthy.

Subs used: J O’Donoghue, P. Geaney (0-1), G. O’Brien

Referee: F. Kelly (Longford).

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