Drama was the order of the day in the final Lidl NFL Division 1 encounter as Mayo recovered from a change of venue and a 12-point deficit to earn a share of the spoils at the Monaghan Entekra Centre of Excellence.
Early goals from Muireann Atkinson and Aoife Mc Anespie appeared to have put the Ulster side on the road to victory, but Peter Leahy’s outfit finished powerfully and added-time goals from Natasha Gaughan and Sinead Cafferky clinched a draw for the westerners.
The draw gives Monaghan their first point of the competition at the final attempt, but their return to Division 2 had already been confirmed before the final round of games.
Despite the late change of venue Monaghan started brightly and they came racing out of the blocks to register 2-3 in the opening ten minutes. Eimear McAnespie kicked the opening point, which was followed by the goals from Atkinson and Aoife McAnespie.
The impressive Leanne Maguire landed two of her four points in the opening 30 minutes, which helped the home side into a nine-point lead.
Lisa Cafferky finally opened the visitors account in the 11th minute, but Monaghan were reduced to 14 players in the 17th minute when Cora Courtney was sent to the sin bin and Mayo immediately replied with a point from Clodagh McManamon.
The sides swapped scores until the interval, at which point Monaghan maintained a 2-7 to 0-5 lead.
The home side were very impressive after the restart too and further points from Maguire and Aoife McAnespie opened their lead out to 2-11 to 0-5.
A quick exchange of scores kept 12 between them with 18 minutes remaining, but the emptying of the Mayo bench brought an extra impetus to their attack. Six unanswered points followed in a devastating five-minute spell, which cut the lead to six points.
Ciara McAnespie replied at the other end to relieve the pressure, but Mayo could sense an unease creeping into the Monaghan rear guard.
Points from Grace Kelly and Ciara Whyte reduced the Monaghan lead to five, but Ciara McAnespie pushed it back out to a six-point difference as the game entered injury time.
Natasha Gaughan’s goal in the first minute of added time looked like just a consolation, but straight from that kick out Mayo attacked again and Sinead Cafferky’s speculative shot dipped under the crossbar to level the game.
Both sides had chances to win it, but defeat to either team would have been a travesty after this compelling encounter.
Scorers – Monaghan: L Maguire 0-8 (8f), A McAnespie 1-1, C McAnespie 0-3, R Courtney 0-1, E McAnespie 0-1, C Courtney 0-1
Mayo: N Gaughan 1-4 (1f), S Cafferky 1-1, F Doherty 0-3 (1f), L Cafferky 0-2, R Kearns 0-2 (1f), C Whyte 0-1, Clodagh McManamon 0-1, G Kelly 0-1.
Monaghan: C Mc Bride, N Kerr, S Boyd, C Treanor, A McAnespie, R Courtney, L Flynn, S Coyle, E McAnespie, A McCarey, L Maguire, E Woods, C Courtney (c), M Atkinson, C Mc Anespie
Subs: H McSkeane for Treanor, G McKenna for Coyle, R Hughes for McCarey, Brionan McAleer for Maguire.
Mayo: S Murphy, N O’Malley, N Meehan, D Caldwell, Clodagh McManamon, Ciara McManamon, C Whyte, N Moran, D Finn, S Cafferky (c), L Cafferky, T O’Connor, R Durkin, R Kearns, F Doherty.
Subs: K Sullivan for O’Malley, L McManamon for Clodagh McManamon, E Ronayne for Ciara McManamon, S Rowe for Moran, E Needham for Finn, N Gaughan for Kearns, G Kelly for Doherty.
Referee: G Corrigan (Down).Tweet