UP FOR GRABS Mayo’s Aidan O’Shea tries to beat Monaghan’s Niall Kearns to the ball during Sunday’s NFL Division 1 match in Clones. Pic: Sportsfile
MAYO have reason to be extremely grateful to match winner Paddy Durcan after a dramatic first round win in Clones on Sunday.
The Castlebar Mitchels star came up with the goods three minutes and 35 seconds into the four minutes of allotted second half injury-time.
In a game of fine margins, such a score could prove invaluable for Mayo’s league campaign.
It gives Stephen Rochford a winning start in the league for the first time in his three attempts. It is also a great fillip to Mayo to win on the road, considering the various injury absentees at present.
And it gave great value to the hoards of visiting supporters. Many were blasé about the importance of the game in advance, but there were very few of a similar mind as time counted down in a game that took on championship like intensity in Clones.
Durcan’s score is all the more valuable because this game could just as easily have gone Monaghan’s way.
It would have been a disappointing result for Mayo to draw the match, and an infuriating one to lose.
But, despite being reduced to 13 men, Monaghan had a real chance to take the lead just before Durcan’s winner.
It started with Mayo sub’ Adam Gallagher dropping a shot short from 25 metres that should have been ‘meat and drink’ to him. Monaghan duly worked possession upfield before the ball was delivered into corner-forward Conor McCarthy.
In close proximity was Eoin O’Donoghue. Both went to ground and Monaghan manager Malachy O’Rourke was livid that a free in was not awarded.
Instead, McCarthy was penalised by referee David Gough for touching the ball on the ground.
But, it must be added, Cillian O’Connor was checked off the ball coming back to defend seconds before, but Gough waved play on there too.
Monaghan may have had an argument but then they did play hard and fast with the rules all day long. They ended up with seven yellows, two reds and a black card, compared to just two yellows and a black for Mayo.
With the greater numbers, Mayo probed and probed for a decent opening in their last attack but the chink of space Paddy Durcan got on the right wing did not seem overly inviting. That did not deter the Mitchels defender who swung over a confident strike to get Mayo over the line.
In truth, it should not have come to that. Mayo should have been out the gap by this stage.
With the sides level at 0-7 apiece at half-time, Mayo owned the third quarter.
The likes of Eoin O’Donoghue, Ger Cafferkey, Colm Boyle, Paddy Durcan and Diarmuid O’Connor were key players as Mayo started to dominate. They won five of Rory Beggan’s first eight kick-outs of the second half, but could not turn the screw on the scoreboard.
They went 0-9 to 0-7 up, only to be pegged back, and 0-12 to 0-9 up, but, again, were pegged back by the 66th minute.
It was the absence of good game management in these situations that remains a concern, but Monaghan’s indiscipline finally caught up with them.
Ryan Wylie was shown a straight red card after a clash with Aidan O’Shea in the 68th minute, and a second yellow for Barry Kerr in the 72nd minute left Mayo in the box seat.
Eventually, they made it count.
D Clarke; B Harrison, G Cafferkey, E O’Donoghue (0-1); C Boyle, S Coen, P Durcan (0-2); J Gibbons, S Nally; K McLoughlin, A O’Shea, D O’Connor; N Douglas (0-4, 2 ‘45s, 2fs), E Regan (0-5, 4fs), A Moran (0-1).
Subs used: C O’Connor for Douglas (58mins); A Gallagher for D O’Connor (black card 59mins); C Loftus for A Moran (62mins); S Akram for Nally (67mins); G McDonagh for Boyle (inj, 73mins).
R Beggan; C Boyle, B Kerr, R Wylie; K Duffy, P McGuirk, K O’Connell (0-2); D Hughes, N Kearns (0-2); O Duffy, F Kelly, R McAnespie; C McCarthy (0-3, 2fs), J McCarron (0-3, 2fs), D Garland (0-2).
Subs used: P McKenna for O Duffy (42mins); D Malone for McCarron (53mins); D Freeman for Garland (57mins); C Walshe for K Duffy; D Wylie for McGuirk (both 64mins); D Ward for McAnespie (71mins).
Referee: D Gough (Meath)