Derry 1-13, Mayo 2-12
Derry have three games to save their top flight status after a frustrating two point defeat to Mayo left them rooted to the foot of the Division One table.
A fortunate first half goal from Mayo corner forward Mark Ronaldson gave visitors the platform for victory but Oak Leaf manager Brian McIver was left furious with Down referee Ciaran Branagan who failed to deal with an, at times, cynical approach from the visitors.
When Mayo substitute Mickey Sweeney netting a second goal on 70 minutes it looked game over but there was still time for Brian Og McGilligan’s to punch into the
visitors net to set up a grand stand finish. Predictably though, that finish ended with a Mayo free out as Derry threw everything forward to no avail.
Playing with the benefit of a strong breeze at their backs, it took Mayo only 15 seconds to open the scoring when Jason Doherty gathered possession from the throw-in and moved forward to point.
Benny Heron equalised with a lovely score before Mark Lynch edged Derry in front but Mayo were winning the midfield battle and worked themselves into a 0-4 to 0-2 lead thanks to two points from O’Connor and one from Ronaldson.
Mark Craig grabbed a great score at the end of a flowing Derry move but the Oak’s slow approach play was allowing Mayo to get numbers back. The home side weren’t doing themselves any favours at the back either as their short passing game invited Mayo forward.
O’Shea and O’Connor pointed to put Mayo 0-6 to 0-3 ahead on 23 minutes but despite playing second fiddle at times, Derry were keeping themselves in the game as Lynch and McAlary brought it back to a one point game before Ronaldson’s piece of fortune gave the visitors some much needed breathing space as they headed into half-time.
O’Connor’s long-range free struck the post but dropped perfectly for the corner-forward who reacted brilliantly to knee the ball into the empty net as it dropped.
The goal put Mayo in the driving seat but again Derry came back again and only the crossbar saved Mayo when Sean Leo McGoldrick floated a lovely centre which was met by the fist of Derry substitute Michael McIver but he saw his effort come back off the upright from only a couple of yards out as Mayo went in leading 1-7 to 0-6.
Derry took control of the second half and Mayo were indebted to a fantastic double save from keeper Kenneth O’Malley who denied first, Michael McIver, and then Benny Heron who a goal looked certain.
Gradually though the Oak Leafers, through substitute James Kielt who helped himself to four points before a late black card for dissent, worked themselves level at 0-13 to 1-10 with 10 minutes to go. Terence O’Brien was another substitute to make an instant contribution when his first touch was to fist the ball over the bar from Kielt’s sideline ball.
Crucially though, just as Derry had brought themselves level, two quick Kevin McLoughlin points (one a free) reasserted Mayo’s advantage and when Sweeney took a Barry Moran pass to hit the net on 70 minutes it looked game over.
Mayo’s Ronaldson had already been black carded by that point for trying to hitch a lift on Kevin Johnston as he came out of defence and home frustrations were evident when Kielt followed suit after another strange decision from the Down referee.
Five points down and the game into injury time, there was still time for McGilligan to touch home amid a crowd of players but the goal proved too little too late for Derry who, for the second week in succession, were left to feel hard done by an official’s performance.
Derry: Eoin McNicholl; Oisin Duffy, Niall Holly, Dermot McBride; Brian Og McAlary (0-1), Kevin Johnston, Sean Leo McGoldrick; Mark Craig (0-1), Brian Og McGilligan (1-0); Carlus McWilliams, Mark Lynch (0-2, 2f), Enda Lynn, Daniel McKinless, Benny Heron (0-4, 1f, 2 forty-five), Aidan McAlynn. (Subs) Michael McIver for A McAlynn, 31mins; James Kielt (0-4, 3f) for D McKinless, H/T; Emmett McGuckin for McAlary, 48mins; Terence O’Brien (0-1) for C McWilliams, 56mins; Sean Brady for J Kielt (Black Card), 67mins;
Mayo: Kenneth O’Malley; Tom Cunniffe, Kevin Keane, Keith Higgins; Lee Keegan, Ger Cafferkey, Colm Boyle; Seamus O’Shea (0-1), Danny Kirby; Kevin McLoughlin (0-2, 1f)), Aidan O’Shea (0-2), Micheal Forde; Marc Ronaldson (1-2), Cillian O’Connor (0-4, 3), Jason Doherty (0-1). (Subs) Alan Dillon for M Forde, 48mins; Barry Moran for D Kirby, 55mins; Alan Freeman for C O’Connor, 62mins; David Drake for G Cafferkey, 62mins; Mickey Sweeney (1-0) for M Ronaldson (Black Card) 65 mins;
Referee: Ciaran Branagan (Down)