All-Ireland SFC quarter-final: Mayo massacre Donegal

August 04, 2013

Mayo's Donal Vaughan scores Mayo's 2nd goal
©INPHO/Cathal Noonan
Mayo 4-17
Donegal 1-10

Mayo blitzed Donegal by 16 points in an extraordinary game at Croke Park to progress to an All-Ireland semi-final against Tyrone on August 25.

For the second game in-a-row, Cillian O'Connor helped himself to a hat-trick of goals as Mayo blew Jim McGuinness' men away with a sensational display. Donegal have been great All-Ireland champions, but they have struggled for form all year and were brutally exposed by a ruthless Mayo team who avenged last year's All-Ireland final defeat in the sweetest possible fashion.

Ironically, the Connacht champions did what Donegal did to them last year by scoring two early goals which set the tone for the rest of the afternoon. By half-time, the game was over as a contest with Mayo perched on a 2-10 to 0-4 lead. On top in every sector of the field, and sharper and quicker to every ball, James Horan's side continued to dominate after the restart and had opened up a huge 20-point lead before a late Donegal rally - which included a spectacular Colm McFadden goal - put a better complexion on the scoreboard.

But there is no getting away from the fact that this was a total meltdown by Donegal who are now - it could be argued - back to where they were before Jim McGuinness became manager three years ago. Both teams finished with 14 players after Eamon McGee and Aidan O'Shea were sent off in the second half.

McGee was issued with a straight red card in the 52nd minute for an alleged stamp on Alan Freeman, while Mayo midfield colossus O'Shea was dismissed on a second yellow card for a high tackle on David Walsh in injury-time.

In what must surely be a first for a big game in Croke Park, the Breaffy man received a standing ovation as he left the field as Mayo fans celebrated knocking out the All-Ireland champions for the third year in succession.

Extra-time in the minor game between Tyrone and Kerry in the first of the Croker triple-header meant there was a 15-minute delay to the throw-in for the most eagerly-awaited game of the championship to date. Predictably, both teams made late changes which saw Chris Barrett replacing Richie Feeney in the Mayo attack and Mark McHugh and Declan Walsh coming into the Donegal team for David Walsh and Karl Lacey respectively.

The Connacht champions signalled their intentions when Cillian O'Connor fielded a high ball and pointed inside the opening minute. Alan Dillon immediately doubled their lead before the Donegal defence failed to deal with another high ball in from Keith Higgins; Kevin McLoughlin collected and set O'Connor up for a cool finish into the bottom left hand corner of Paul Durcan's net. Before the All-Ireland champions could recover, Alan Freeman raised another white flag to leave Mayo perched on a 1-3 to 0-0 lead with barely six minutes played.

Donegal eventually got the scoreboard when a long ball from Michael Murphy bounced over the bar. Mark McHugh, who wasn't even listed among the substitutes, followed up with a great point from the right and further inroads were made into the Mayo lead when Murphy slotted over a 20-metre free in the 13th minute.

In between Donegal's second and third points, Aidan O'Shea was fortunate to escape with just a yellow card after he appeared to catch Frank McGlynn with an elbow into the face. The incident showed just how much Mayo were up for the challenge as they carved open the Donegal defence for a second time in the 13th minute when goalkeeper Paul Durcan came - and missed - a looping pass from Dillon, leaving the raiding Donal Vaughan with the simple task of finishing the ball to an empty net.

Moments later, Mayo hearts skipped a collective beat when O'Shea put Colm McFadden on the flat of his back, but no second yellow card accrued. Murphy curled over the resultant free, but Donegal wouldn't score again until 12 minutes into the second half as the ruthless Westerners took complete control.

In the 15 minutes leading up to half-time, Mayo hit the Ulster men for an unanswered 0-7 to put the result beyond all doubt. Alan Dillon started the scoring sequence before Donegal introduced Karl Lacey for Anthony Thompson. But not even the 2012 Footballer of the Year's presence on the pitch could halt Mayo's momentum as McLoughlin, Andy Moran (an outrageous effort from a standing position), O'Connor (one '45' and a free) and wing back Colm Boyle piled on the scores.

If anything, Donegal were lucky not to be more than 12 points adrift at half-time as Mayo could have had two more goals. Mark McHugh cleared a side-footed shot from O'Connor off the line, while Cathal Carolan - who replaced Tom Cunniffe in the 26th minute - hit the post with a soccer-style effort and McLoughlin sent the rebound wide with the goal gapping.

Martin McElhinney replaced Ryan Bradley at half-time, but there was no let-up from Mayo who bagged a further 2-2 without reply inside the first 10 minutes. Seamus O'Shea split the posts before Vaughan teed up Cillian O'Connor for his second goal.

Paul Durcan pulled off a great save to deny Lee Keegan at the expense of a '45' which O'Connor converted. The Ballintubber scoring machine then brought his tally for the day to 3-4 when he cracked home his third goal after Durcan had kept out Andy Moran's initial shot.

By now, it had become embarrassing for Donegal. Mayo could afford the luxury of replacing Dillon, Moran and O'Connor as sub Richie Feeney, Enda Varley and Chris Barrett raised further white flags.

Another sub, Kevin Keane, got in on the scoring act, as did half back Lee Keegan, before Donegal produced a late surge. Michael Murphy and Karl Lacey had points before the otherwise anonymous McFadden blasted an unstoppable shot to the top corner of Rob Hennelly's net after Murphy had slipped a quick free to him.

On this evidence, it will take a good team to stop Mayo from ending their 62-year wait for Sam.

Scorers - Mayo: C O'Connor 3-04 (0-2f, 0-1 45), D Vaughan 1-00, A Dillon, A Freeman 0-02 each; C Boyle, A Moran, K McLoughlin, C Boyle, L Keegan, S O'Shea, K Keane, E Varley, C Barrett, R Feeney 0-01 each. Donegal: M Murphy 0-05 (0-4f), C McFadden 1-00 (1-0 f) M McHugh 0-02, David Walsh, M McHugh, K Lacey 0-01 each.

Mayo: R Hennelly, T Cunniffe, G Cafferkey, K Higgins, L Keegan, D Vaughan, C Boyle, A O'Shea, S O'Shea; K McLoughlin, R Feeney, A Dillon; C O'Connor, A Freeman, A Moran. Subs: C Carolan for T Cunniffe (27), R Feeney for A Dillon (47), E Varley for A Moran (49), D Coen for C O'Connor (54), K Keane for C Boyle (58).

Donegal: P Durcan, P McGrath, N McGee, E McGee, F McGlynn, K Lacey, A Thompson, N Gallagher, R Kavanagh, R Bradley, R McHugh, David Walsh, P McBrearty, M Murphy, C McFadden. Subs: K Lacey for A Thompson (23), D Walsh for R Bradley (HT), M McIlhinney for N McGee (HT), L McLoone for R Kavanagh (44), M Boyle for P McGrath (60).

Referee - Joe McQuillan (Cavan).

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