All-Ireland SFC quarter-final: Mayo ease past Donegal

August 08, 2015

Donegal's Odhran Mac Niallais under pressure from Tom Parsons, Lee Keegan, Donal Vaughan and Keith Higgins of Mayo during the All-Ireland SFC quarter-final at Croke Park.
©INPHO/Cathal Noonan.

Goals from Aidan O'Shea and Lee Keegan either side of half time provided the platform for Mayo's comfortable 2-13 to 0-11 victory over Donegal at Croke Park.

On Sunday, August 30th, the Connacht champions will face Dublin in their fifth successive All-Ireland semi-final. With 61,784 looking on this evening, the much-fresher winners - playing just their third championship match this summer - notched 2-11 from play.

Donegal, who have had a much tougher campaign, in comparison, looked out on their feet and were totally dependent on captain Michael Murphy, who registered eight of their eleven points.

A brilliant O'Shea goal in the second minute of injury time gave the winners a 1-7 to 0-6 interval lead. Five Murphy points had Donegal within the minimum when O'Shea soared above two defenders, caught the ball on the turn and shook off Neil McGee and Mark McHugh before planting his left-footed shot into the far corner of the Davin End net.

Keegan and Murphy hit a brace apiece as the teams shared four points inside the first ten minutes. Cillian O'Connor (free) and Jason Doherty edged the winners two in front but the beaten Ulster finalists drew level thanks to Christy Toye and Murphy ('45').

Back came Mayo with scores from O'Connor and Doherty, who was happy to take his point after Aidan O'Shea presented him with a one-on-one opportunity against Paul Durcan.

Knockmore's Kevin McLoughlin stretched the gap on 30 minutes and Murphy stoked over two frees - the second following a David Clarke save from Karl Lacey - before Mayo and O'Shea finished the opening period with a flourish.

The floodlights came on for the second half and Mayo continued where they had left off with a second goal upon the restart; this time it was Keegan who found the net, chipping Durcan with his weaker left foot either by accident or design to put seven points between them.

O'Connor (free), McLoughlin and corner back Keith Higgins added further points for the winners, with Murphy bagging a brace in between to bring his tally to seven: 2-10 to 0-8. After 14 minutes without a score at either end, substitute Leo McLoone blasted a Donegal goal chance over the bar nine minutes from time.

Fellow substitutes Andy Moran and Anthony Thompson traded scores before Murphy's eighth point (free) left two goals between the teams with four minutes remaining. Sub Alan Freeman and Doherty added to the winning tally and Mayo had sub Kevin Keane dismissed in stoppage time for needlessly slapping Murphy.

A comfortable victory in the end for Mayo, who are set for a mouth-watering clash with the Dubs, while Donegal's long, hard championship season has ground to a disappointing end.

Mayo - D Clarke; G Cafferkey, D Vaughan, K Higgins (0-1); L Keegan (1-2), T Cunniffe, C Boyle; S O'Shea, T Parsons; D O'Connor, A O'Shea (1-0), K McLoughlin (0-2); B Moran, C O'Connor (0-3, 2f), J Doherty (0-3). Subs: C Barrett for T Cunniffe, R Hennelly for D Clarke, P Durcan for D Vaughan (BC), A Moran (0-1) for B Moran, A Freeman (0-1) for S O'Shea, K Keane for G Cafferkey.

Donegal - P Durcan; P McGrath, N McGee, E McGee; R McHugh, K Lacey, F McGlynn; N Gallagher, H McFadden; C Toye (0-1), O MacNiallais, M McHugh; P McBrearty, M Murphy (0-8, 5f), C McFadden. Subs: M McElhinney for C Toye, A Thompson (0-1) for N McGee, L McLoone (0-1) for O MacNiallais.

Referee - D Gough.

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