by Frank Craig
Mayo ensured their top flight status in the Lidl NFL Division 1 when they scored a decisive 13-point victory over Donegal at Letterkenny in a relegation shootout.
Michael Moyles’ side were as good as safe by half-time as they held a commanding 16-point lead.
Mayo, who made 17 substitutions over the hour, hit the ground running when Deirdre Doherty’s quick thinking from a close range free teed up Rachel Kearns to her right and even though the full-forward smacked a post, she still had the time and space to plant home the rebound.
Ciara McGarvey got Donegal off the mark on three minutes but with Lisa Cafferky posting a quickfire brace, the visitors led 1-2 to 0-1 by the seventh minute. Cafferky then notched her third point before substitute Sinead Walsh, only into the action, squeezed in a second Mayo goal to put eight between the sides after 20 minutes.
With Donegal out of shape at the back, Tamara O’Connor set up Cafferky with a first-time effort and she guided the ball past the advancing Aoife McColgan.
Indeed, but for an excellent stop moments later by McColgan, Aoife Geraghty would have raised a fourth green flag for Mayo.
Mayo did find the net once again before half time when an interception by Deirdre Doherty on a back pass allowed her to fire into the empty net.
Doherty added a free to Mayo’s tally before the break as they turned around with a 4-5 to 0-1 interval lead.
Ella Brennan went close to adding a fifth Mayo goal right at the start of the second-half but she blazed over. A full half hour after their opening point, Donegal finally added a second as McGarvey chipped over a free but Mayo replacement Maria Cannon also lobbed a brace of points at the other end.
Mayo wrapped up the win to ensure their safety with a fifth goal through Sinead Cafferky.
Donegal never gave up and were rewarded when a late blitz resulted them finding the net on three occasions through Katie Long, Niamh McLaughlin and Cody Walsh.
Scorers: Mayo: L Cafferky 1-3; D Doherty 1-1; R Kearns 1-0; S Walsh 1-0; S Cafferky 1-0; M Cannon 0-2 (1f); S Howley 0-1f; E Brennan 0-1; E Murray 0-1.
Donegal: K Long 1-0; N McLaughlin 1-0; C Walsh 1-0, C McGarvey 0-2 (1f).
Mayo : L Brennan; E Ronayne, D Caldwell, S Lally; T O’Connor, C Needham, K Sullivan; A Geraghty, S Cafferky; D Doherty, S Howley, F McHale; L Cafferky, R Kearns, M Reilly. Subs: S Walsh for Kearns (6, inj), S Mulvihill for Reilly (13), R Flynn for Needham (14, inj), S Tierney for Caldwell (28), E Brennan for Sullivan (30+3), S Delaney for D Doherty (ht), M Cannon, H Reape and L Wallace for T O’Connor, F McHale and S Howley (all 40), C Durcan for S Tierney (43), J Mortimer for Ronayne (43); L Reid May for Brennan (46); E Reape and E Murray for S Lally and L Cafferky (both 52); R Durcan for S Cafferky (55), M Reilly for S Walsh (58); D Caldwell for E Brennan (60+8).
Donegal: A McColgan; C Keon, E Gallagher, Nicole McLaughlin; R Rodgers, A Boyle Carr, T Hegarty; S Twohig, Niamh McLaughlin; N Carr, K Long, K Dowds; S White, K Herron, C McGarvey. Subs: S Boyle for White (34), A O’Connell for Rodgers (40), A Temple Asoko for Twohig (47), C Boyle and C Friel for Carr and McColgan (both 50), S Higgins for Nicole McLaughlin (52), L Ryan and C Gillespie for Long and Dowds (both 56), K O’Donnell, S McFeely and C Walsh for Herron, Gallagher and Keon (all 57).
Ref - Shane Curley (Galway).Tweet