Mayo League 7
Duffy 8, 70, 80, 87 O’Malley 3, 32
Donegal League 0
EVERY so often sport can surprise you. This Mayo Oscar Traynor team is a case in point. The powers that be in the Mayo League admitted that Mick Wallace was appointed as manager because nobody else would take the job.
It seemed the Mayo side were set for a very short year. But Wallace has surprised us all. Early wins against Roscommon and Galway were positive results but nothing compared to last Sunday.
His team completely blitzed Donegal with a stunning performance, achieved the record win for a Mayo team in the competition, and became the first side from the county to win three Oscar Traynor games in a row since Donal Benson’s 1980/81 side made it to the final.
It wasn’t just any 7-0 hammering either. It was a game which those handful of people who made the journey north were blessed to have witnessed. Mayo were awesome. Five of their seven goals were top-drawer, intricate team moves involving many players who belong to another level of football.
The result ensures that Mayo have topped their group, and are assured of a home draw in the last 16 ahead of their final group game against Inishowen.
Michael Duffy will steal the headlines after taking four goals for himself. Duffy, too, showed everyone he was capable of playing at another level. In a day of records Duffy joined well-known referee Mick Walsh in becoming only the second Mayo player to score four in an Oscar Traynor game. Walsh set the record in 1967/68.
But if Duffy was the goalscorer then the creative genius was Joey Maloney. The Castlebar Celtic star has returned to the fray after returning from a cruciate knee ligament tear and he was awesome in the central midfield berth.
His pace, control and mesmerising skill were a joy to watch and it was little wonder that a Finn Harps representative approached the Kilmaine man after the game. How much the significance of this performance has to be diluted by the quality of the opposition remains to be seen.
Donegal set out negatively, intent on fouling and having little cohesion. But Mayo played like a team that would have beaten all-comers. Certainly their first half performance should become the template for what they can aim for this year.
Inside fifteen minutes they were 3-0 up and the game was essentially over. The first came on three minutes. A free-kick from Ciarán Kelly inside his own half picked out Ronan O’Boyle. The Celtic winger linked with Duffy and, under pressure, he did well to find Vinny O’Malley who showed his class with a wonderful volley into the corner with his back to goal.
Sean McHale, operating at right-back, won possession to initiate the second goal on eight minutes. O’Boyle took possession and with both O’Malley and Duffy offside, Donegal waited for the flag once O’Boyle dinked the ball over the top. But Mayo were on a different wavelength, the strikers checked their runs and Joey Maloney flew through, rounded the advancing ‘keeper and squared for the now onside Duffy to tap home.
Phillip Devers made it 3-0 on fifteen although there was a bit of good fortune about it. O’Malley found him on the left-hand edge of the area and Devers’ powerful shot deflected off John Doherty and looped over the stranded Andy McGovern.
Mayo continued to dominate almost completely with Eugene Gorman and O’Boyle rampaging down the wings, Duffy and O’Malley proving real handfuls up front, and Maloney simply majestic in the middle.
O’Boyle had a penalty ruled out in favour of a free-kick, Maloney and O’Malley came within inches and Gorman hit the bar before Mayo scored a well deserved fourth on 32 minutes.
Peter Burke played a perceptive ball down the left wing to put Michael Duffy clear. With the ‘keeper advancing, Duffy was unselfish and chipped the ball across the goal for O’Malley to nod home.
The early part of the second half was more competitive but soon Donegal lost their composure and while Mayo were lucky someone wasn’t badly injured with some shocking tackles, they made Donegal pay with three goals from Duffy.
The first came on 70 minutes and was probably the best of the day. A delightful flick off the outside of Maloney’s right boot set Eugene Gorman clear. He played the ball back to Maloney who careered through the defence before squaring for Duffy to fire home from ten yards.
The sixth goal, and Duffy’s hat-trick, had more good fortune about it. Goalkeeper McGovern mis-controlled a backpass from Glen Hamilton and his attempt at a clearance was blocked by Duffy and the ball made it into the net.
His final effort, on 87 minutes, came from wonderful pressurising from McHale, Maloney and Keith Regan which saw Regan put Duffy through. His first touch was key, taking the ball in his stride and despite Paul McBride constantly hacking at his feet, Duffy stayed on his feet and finished with ease.
C Kelly (Castlebar Celtic); S McHale (do), D Flynn (do), P Burke (Westport United), J Gillispie (Glenhest Rovers); R O’Boyle (Castlebar Celtic), J Maloney (do), P Devers (Ballina Town); E Gorman (do); M Duffy (do), V O’Malley (do).Subs: K Regan (Swinford) for O’Boyle (inj. 51mins); T Molloy (Mulranny) for Duffy; L Foy (Swinford) for Gorman (both 88mins).
A McGovern; P Peoples, D Toland, G Hamilton, B Cannon; T Shields, P McBride, E Sheridan, F Doherty; J Doherty, P Doherty. Subs: N Doherty for Cannon (55mins); F McGee for Shields, C Toner for J Doherty (both 64mins).
Referee: C O’Doherty (Inishowen).