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Mayo beat Donegal in challenge match

Moran stands tall in Donegal

Castlebar forward on song for makeshift Mayo

Mayo 1-12
Donegal 1-10

Peter Campbell

ALTHOUGH they started with just seven of the side that began  the recent National League Final, Mayo still proved too strong for John Joe Doherty’s Donegal in a competitive senior football challenge in Glenfin last Friday night.
The introduction of the likes of Conor Mortimer, Peadar Gardiner, Kevin McLoughlin and Alan Dillon as the game wore on proved hugely significant in the end, as Donegal faded out in the closing stages.
The only downside on the night for Mayo was a mouth injury picked up by Donal Vaughan (who started at centre-half back) which required stitches and forced him out of the game at half-time.
But, despite being unable to travel to Portugal for a pre-planned training camp last weekend, there were still plenty of positives for Mayo and their management team to take from this work-out.
Full-forward Barry Moran, starting for the county for the first time since the All-Ireland quarter-final last August, ended the evening with 1-4 from play. Aghamore’s Alan Freeman, also playing in the inside line, shot two points from play. Billy Joe Padden marked his return to the county colours with a typically solid display at centre-half forward and scored a point for good measure.
In defence, John O’Mahony ran the rule over the aforementioned Donal Vaughan at number six while Trevor Howley reverted to left-corner back. He also gave run-outs to goalkeeper Kenneth O’Malley (also starting for Mayo for the first time since last August) and wing-back Shane Nally.
“We gave game-time to some players that hadn’t played in the league and changed some things around,” O’Mahony told The Mayo News. “Challenge games are challenge games, and I wouldn’t read an awful lot into them, but it was good to get a look at some of our options.
“All our preparations are focussed on Sligo now,” he added. “And challenge games are part of that process. Our injury situation has cleared up a lot but with exams at the moment we will be missing some guys next weekend.”
In Glenfin, Mayo were without the likes of Enda Varley, Seamus O’Shea and Tom Cunniffe due to exam commitments while Keith Higgins (who lined out with the county hurlers on Saturday) and Trevor Mortimer were unavailable. Aidan O’Shea was rested while Tom Parsons was preparing for club championship duty with Charlestown.
In perfect conditions Donegal put a big effort into the first half but should have been much further than 0-5 to 0-3 ahead at the break. However, 11 first half wides dogged their efforts.
Mayo were 0-3 to 0-1 up after five minutes thanks to points from Barry Moran (2) and Alan Freeman. Donegal owned the ball for much of the first half but only scored through Michael Murphy (2), Rory Kavanagh and Christy Toye.
At half-time, Mayo brought in Conor Mortimer, Peadar Gardiner and Kieran Conroy while Alan Dillon joined in midway through the second half.
However, the game looked over after 47 minutes as a Colm McFadden goal and a point from Christy Toye eased Donegal ahead by 1-8 to 0-5. Incredibly, they failed to score for the next twenty minutes.
In the interim, Mayo took complete control with Ronan McGarrity, Conor Mortimer, Barry Moran and Alan Freeman especially prominent.
Moran’s goal (scored from close range in the 48th minute) threw Mayo a life-line and the totemic forward added a point to get the revival going. Chris Barrett, Billy Joe Padden, Conor Mortimer (2) and Neil Douglas also scored without reply.
Mayo were four points up by the time the purple patch ended and Donegal had to be content with a couple of late frees from Colm McFadden to gloss the final scoreline.
The Connacht champions continue their preparations for their provincial semi-final meeting with Sligo on June 5 when they take on Cavan next Saturday evening. The match will mark the opening of Belmullet GAA club’s new €1.8m development.

K O’Malley; L O’Malley, G Cafferkey, T Howley; C Barrett (0-1), D Vaughan, S Nally; R McGarrity, P Harte; A Moran, BJ Padden (0-1), M Ronaldson; A Kilcoyne (0-1), A Freeman (0-2), B Moran (1-4).
Subs used: C Mortimer (0-2, 1f), N Douglas (0-1), P Gardiner, K McLoughlin, K Conroy, A Dillon.

P Durcan; F McGlynn, N McGee, K Lacey; B Dunnion, B Monaghan, C Greene; K Cassidy, R Kavanagh (0-1), F McNulty, C Toye (0-3), M McElhinney; D Walsh, M Murphy (0-3, 1f), C Dunne.
Subs used: C McFadden (1-3, 2fs) for Murphy; E McGee for Monaghan; J Keaney for Dunnion;  S Griffin for McNulty.

Referee: F Flynn (Leitrim)