Mayo are through to the All-Ireland semi-finals after beating Donegal by 1-14 to 1-10 at Castlebar.
Victory means James Horan's men are through to the penultimate stage of the Sam Maguire Cup race for the eighth time in nine years. They’ll be back in action at Croke Park next Saturday night, with a place in the 2019 All-Ireland final up for grabs and opposition more than likely to be provided by holders Dublin (unless Jim Gavin’s men lose in Omagh tomorrow).
While this was a magical occasion for the victors, roared on by a vociferous home support, it was a bitterly disappointing evening for the Ulster champions, who never produced their best football, kicked a series of poor wides and have now exited at the same stage for two successive seasons after ruling the northern province.
Driving rain and wind at their backs, the ravenous winners dominated the opening period to lead by six points at the interval, 1-7 to 0-4.
Patrick McBrearty and Niall O’Donnell points got the visitors off to a flying start but the outstanding Paddy Durcan – a late addition to the starting XV - replied before Cillian O’Connor’s first converted free tied up the scores on nine minutes. Chris Barrett sent the hosts ahead on 13 minutes but Michael Murphy’s free had them level for the second time from a free, Mayo losing Keith Higgins to a black card.
However, excellent strikes from Jason Doherty (giving Mayo a lead they would not relinquish) and James Carr, followed by another O’Connor free made it double scores and O’Connor’s fisted goal seven minutes from the break propelled the beaten Connacht semi-finalists six points clear, 1-6 to 0-3.
Murphy’s free was cancelled out by Durcan and the partisan home fans amongst a packed 27,023 roared enthusiastically as the short whistle sounded with their team in total control. Shorn of Neil McGee prior to throw-in, Donegal had looked uncharacteristically out of sorts in the first half.
Mayo’s Patrick Durcan and Ryan McHugh of Donegal
O’Donnell and Carr exchanged points upon the restart and Donegal were awarded a penalty when Murphy was fouled by Lee Keegan, the inspirational full forward tucking his 42nd-minute shot to Robert Hennelly’s left and into the back of the net, halving his team’s deficit – 1-5 to 1-8.
Play was held up as Doherty was treated on the field for a nasty-looking knee injury, which has surely ended his season, and replacement Kevin McLoughlin saw his sensational point cancelled out by Daire O Baoill before McBrearty reduced the arrears to two. Murphy made it a one-point game 16 minutes into the second half after Shaun Patton denied Andy Moran but Durcan was on hand to hit his third of the evening to make it 1-10 to 1-8.
As Donegal missed chances to beat the band, another O’Connor free left three between the teams with eleven minutes remaining and Keegan spurned a glorious goal chance before O’Baoill replied. O’Connor’s free left the home team three ahead as it was announced that there would be seven minutes of injury time.
Murphy and substitute Moran swapped points before we passed the 70-minute mark and the insurance point duly arrived when Moran grabbed his second successive score. There was no way back for Donegal; there's always a way back for Mayo!
Watch all the Full-Time highlights from Mayo v Donegal here on GAANOW. Great win for Mayo! pic.twitter.com/PpcruwMYxk— The GAA (@officialgaa) August 3, 2019
Mayo - R Hennelly; C Barrett (0-1), B Harrison, K Higgins; L Keegan, C Boyle, S Coen; A O’Shea, S O’Shea; F McDonagh, J Doherty (0-1), P Durcan (0-3); C O’Connor (1-4, 0-4f), D Coen, J Carr (0-2). Subs: E O’Donoghue for K Higgins (BC), A Moran (0-2) for D Coen, K McLoughlin (0-1) for J Doherty, F Boland for J Carr, M Ruane for S O’Shea, J Durcan for C O’Connor.
Donegal - S Patton; P McGrath, E Doherty, S McMenamin; R McHugh, D O Baoill (0-2), O McFadden Ferry; H McFadden, J McGee; C Thompson, N O’Donnell (0-2), J Brennan; P McBrearty (0-2), M Murphy (1-4, 1-0pen, 0-2f), M Langan. Subs: L McLoone for J McGee, P Brennan for E Doherty, C Ward for P McGrath, O Gallen for C Thompson, E McHugh for P Brennan (BC), E McGettigan for M Langan.
Referee - D Gough.Tweet