FL1: Mayo finish strongly to see off Kingdom

March 02, 2014

Mayo's Ger Cafferkey and Conor Cox of Kerry
©INPHO/James Crombie
Mayo 2-15
Kerry 1-13

Alan Freeman kicked four of the last five points as Mayo claimed their first league victory at Kerry's expense in Castlebar.

An 8,693 crowd watched the home side finish strongly to heap more misery on the troubled Kingdom who remain pointless after three rounds and in grave danger of losing their top-flight status. The relief was palpable around Elvery's MacHale Park as last year's beaten All-Ireland runners-up finally put two points on the board with full forward Freeman bagging 1-5 in a man of the match performance.

There was little to separate the sides throughout, with a Jason Doherty goal on the stroke of half-time giving James Horan's men a 2-7 to 0-11 lead at the break. Aided by a Stephen O'Brien goal, Kerry fought back to lead by 1-13 to 2-9 with 15 minutes remaining, but they failed to score again as Mayo reeled off six points without reply to take the victory.

The Connacht champions got off to a dream start when Jason Doherty teed up Alan Freeman for a goal after just 30 seconds. Barry John Keane replied with a Kerry point before Adam Gallagher restored the hosts' three-point advantage from a free which was tipped over Brendan Kealy.
Kerry were level by the 10th minute, however, thanks to three unanswered points from James O'Donoghue, David Moran (an excellent effort off the outside of his right boot) and Keane.

Mickey Conroy edged Mayo back in front in the 15th minute, only for O'Donoghue to equalise. Alan Freeman rounded Mark Griffin to restore Mayo's lead, but two in-a-row from Conor Cox (one free) had Kerry ahead for the first time, 0-7 to 1-3.

Kevin McLoughlin and Cox traded frees before wing back Lee Keegan came storming forward to kick his customary point and tie it up again after 28 minutes. McLoughlin and Donnchadh Walsh exchanged scores before a Cox free and a Stephen O'Brien effort put the Kingdom two clear for the first time, 0-11 to 1-6.

However, Mayo finished the first half with a flourish to lead by two at the break. Adam Gallagher left the minimum in it from a free before a great Mayo team move, which involved half backs Keegan and Shane McHale, culminated in Doherty finishing clinically to the bottom left corner of Brendan Kealy's net in the second minute of injury-time.

The visitors resumed with a Conor Cox free and a superb Stephen O'Brien goal from 30 metres to move into a 1-12 to 2-7 lead. But things started to unravel for them after corner back Shane Enright was black carded as Mayo regained parity with points from McLoughlin (free) and Doherty.

O'Brien edged Eamon Fitzmaurice's side back in front, 1-13 to 2-9, midway through the second half, but it was all Mayo from there to the final whistle.

After goalkeeper Rob Hennelly kicked his fourth wide from a free, Freeman twice split the posts to give them a lead they wouldn't relinquish. Further scores from McLoughlin and Freeman (free) made it 2-13 to 1-13 in favour of the strong-finishing home side.

Enda Varley and Freeman (free) wrapped up the win as Mark Griffin became the second Kerry player to receive a black card in injury-time.

Mayo - R Hennelly; B Harrison, G Cafferkey, K Higgins; L Keegan (0-1), S McHale, C Boyle; A O'Shea, J Gibbons; K McLoughlin (0-4, 3f), A Moran, J Doherty (1-1); A Gallagher (0-2f), A Freeman (1-5, 0-3f), M Conroy (0-1). Subs: E Varley (0-1) for A Gallagher, D Vaughan for S McHale, S O'Shea for J Gibbons, C Carolan for M Conroy, D O'Connor for A Moran.

Kerry - B Kealy; P Murphy, M Griffin, S Enright; P Crowley, A O'Mahony, M O Se; A Maher, D Moran (0-1); D Walsh (0-1), J O'Donoghue (0-3, 1f), D Casey; B J Keane (0-2), S O'Brien (1-2), C Cox (0-4, 3f). Subs: F Fitzgerald for A O'Mahony, P Kilkenny for S Enright (BC), M Geaney for D Casey, J Sherwood for M O Se, J Buckley for D Walsh, B McGuire for P Crowley.

Referee - C Brannigan.

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