CROWDED HOUSE Mayo's Trevor Mortimer is surrounded by Dublin's Bernard Brogan, Darren Magee and Conal Keaney during last Sunday's game. Pic: Sportsfile
Mayo’s unbeaten league run comes to end
National Football League
THERE was very little good news for Mayo or their supporters after Dublin’s first NFL win at McHale Park, Castlebar since 1992.
The one-point defeat on Sunday means that Mayo surrendered their 100% league record after kicking 18 wides and scoring just 1-2 from play during a dour, war of attrition.
And, to add insult to injury, Peadar Gardiner looks almost certain to miss the result of the NFL after breaking a bone in his arm. He was due to undergo surgery on Sunday evening.
“I’m very frustrated to be honest,” said John O’Mahony afterwards. “We created the chances, and I couldn’t fault the work-rate anywhere on the field, but we just didn’t put them away. After periods of dominance in both halves, when we had chances, they came up the field and put theirs away. We have to be honest and up front about that.
“That’s disappointing. It’s a home game as well which would have been lovely to take something out of. But there were some positives to take out of it as well. There was some real grit and determination. I thought, in the second half, Enda Varley stood up to the plate very well in everything that he did. Trevor Howley got on a lot of ball around the half-back line too.
“The loss of Peadar [Gardiner] and Ronan [McGarrity] in the first half pinched us a little bit too, but we recovered from that fairly well. At the end we just weren’t able to get those couple of scores that would have made the difference.
Dublin’s decision to bring in the cavalry during the second half — Bernard Brogan, Darren Magee and Conal Keaney — proved crucial in the final quarter and Brogan’s 53rd minute goal turned out to be a water-shed moment when all was said and done.
The loss of Gardiner and McGarrity (tight hamstring) during the first half didn’t help Mayo’s cause, but neither did their inability to break down Dublin’s mass defence and some terrible shot-selection.
However, Pat Gilroy was quick to acknowledge that his team were fortunate to leave with the two points, especially after Andy Moran’s late drop-kicked free was just diverted over the bar in injury-time.
“We were very lucky to come out with a win,” said the Dublin manager afterwards. “Mayo missed a lot of easy frees and had trouble in general with their shooting so I think we were fortunate to hold on at the end.”
Mayo manager, John O’Mahony was singing from a very different hymn sheet after watching his team lose one of their three ‘home’ games.
“I don’t think it was the way Dublin were playing [mass defence] that prevented us from scoring, it was our execution of the chances after we had found space.
“They’re difficult to play against but we’ve been playing against northern teams like that for years. We just didn’t execute clinically.”
It became obvious early on that this was going to be a dour struggle, and not the free-flowing spectacle that a large crowd of approximately 8,000 had come to see.
A ragged, shapeless, first half ended with Dublin leading by 0-5 to 0-4. Kevin McManamon (2), Kevin Bonner, Eamonn Fennell and Paul Flynn landed the visitor’s scores, all from play.
In contrast, Mayo were struggling to make inroads against a side that packed their own half with a dozen outfield players when they didn’t have possession.
An early point from Seamus O’Shea proved a false dawn and 27 minutes in total passed without a Mayo score in the opening period as the wides racked up. They kept in touch thanks to frees from Enda Varley (2) and Alan Freeman.
Varley was Mayo’s most dangerous inside forward all through and his spectacular goal in the 46th minute, after good work by Tom Parsons and Keith Higgins, propelled the homeside into a 1-5 to 0-5 lead.
However, instead of fading away, Dublin ran their bench and Bernard Brogan drilled in a superb goal seven minutes later to give his team the lead again.
The last quarter was frantic, and not very easy-on-the-eye, but three points in four minutes from the impressive Ross McConnell, Michael McAuley and Conal Keaney proved crucial in the end.
Mayo pitched Conor Mortimer in to try and turn things around but all they could manage in the last ten minutes was an Alan Freeman free and Andy Moran’s late chance which flew over the bar. This was Dublin’s day.
“This was a great win for Dublin,” said Mayo’s manager. “I heard some of their lads saying afterwards that it was a great game. It was a terrible game, an absolutely terrible game. But it was a fantastic win for them. I would have taken any win at all.
“You have to pick yourself up, dust yourself down, and go again,” he added. “And the people that don’t do that shouldn’t be involved. But I know these lads will do that, and I have every eonfidence that they will.”
Mayo will travel to Derry for their fourth round game next Saturday evening (7,30pm).
D Clarke; D Vaughan, G Cafferkey, K Higgins; P Gardiner, T Howley, K McLoughlin; T Parsons, R McGarrity; A Moran (0-2, 1f), S O'Shea (0-1), T Mortimer; E Varley (1-3, 3fs), A O'Shea, A Freeman (0-2, 2fs).
Subs used: C Barrett for Gardiner (inj); N Douglas for McGarrity (inj); B Kelly for T Mortimer; C Mortimer for Freeman; M Sweeney for A O’Shea.
S Cluxton; P Conlon, M Fitzsimons, P McMahon; P Griffin, C O'Sullivan, G Brennan; E Fennell (0-1), R McConnell (0-2); A Hubbard, P Flynn (0-1), K Bonner (0-1); D Henry, M MacAuley (0-1), K McManamon (0-2).
Subs used: K Nolan for Conlon (inj); B Brogan (1-0) for McManamon; D Magee for Fennell; C Keaney (0-1) for D Henry; B McManamon for Hubbard.
Referee: P Fox (Westmeath)
AUDIO Moran admits Mayo must learn to think on their feet Mayo wing-forward Andy Moran spoke to Edwin McGreal and reflected on his frustrations and highlighted Mayo's inability to think on their feet