DERRY GAA: Brave Oak Leafers lose out to Mayo in extra-time
All Ireland Qualifying Series, Round 2A
Mayo 2-21, Derry 1-13
Derry's championship season ended in heartbreaking fashion following an extra-time defeat to last season's beaten All Ireland finalists Mayo in MacHale Park in Castlebar on Saturday.
The Oak Leafers make a mockery of pre-match predictions by dominating large sections of the game against the favourites but ultimately ran out of steam in extra-time as Mayo substitute Jason Doherty seized on a poor kick-out to fire home to match changing goal three minutes into the first section of extra-time. Things could have been different had James Kielt manage to convert a penalty minutes after the Doherty goal but even with a red card for Mayo's Paddy Durcan, Derry had nothing left in the tank to turn things around after Mark Lynch's injury time goal had brought the game to the extra 20 minutes.
Derry had belied their underdogs status in an encouraging opening quarter which saw the Oak Leafers lead 0-3 to 0-5 after 20 minutes during which time they fashioned three decent goal chances.
Damian Barton's team did manage an 0-8 to 0-7 interval lead courtesy of Niall Loughlin's free with the last kick of the opening 35 minutes but they did enough to merit a bigger advantage.
Cillian O'Connor and Loughlin were the main source of score for their respective side and it was the Mayo man who got the scoreboard off and running inside 60 seconds but following a foul on Danny Tallon, Loughlin equalised.
A great Andy Moran score - one of only two from play in the first half for Mayo - had the men from the west back in front but once Derry had drawn level through a lovely solo effort from Loughlin, they dominated the remainder of the half.
Mayo were guilty of some wayward shooting but Derry's defence looked much more secure than a home defence that was prone to be picked off by runners from deep.
Benny Heron and Ryan Bell scored excellent points from play.
O'Connor reduced the deficit from another placed ball but the Oak Leafers were indebted to Ben McKinless for a superb save with his feet for maintaining their lead. The Ballinderry keeper did well to stop a long looping shot from going over the bar for a point but it then deflected out for O'Connor whose low shot was destined for the back of the net only for McKinless to recover and block wide.
Loughlin and O'Connor traded frees to leave it 0-4 to 0-5 before Derry's best goal; chance of the half arrived on 23 minutes. Enda Lynn ran straight at the heart of the Mayo defence and when the defenders converged to halt him, the Greenlough man popped off a pass to send Carlus McWilliams clear. McWilliams strode forward and unleashed a low shot which was saved by Mayo keeper David Clarke but the ball rebounded back off McWilliams and rolled agonisingly against the post before being cleared.
Lee Keegan came up from centre-half back to fist an equaliser for Mayo only to see Bell edge Derry in front again on 27 minutes at 0-5 to 0-6.
Another O'Connor free levelled matter once more but once Loughlin put Derry back in front things seemed to be progressing well for the Oak Leafers.
However a needless tackle from Conor McAtamney, who had been having an excellent half, on Tom Parsons saw the Derry man black carded with Emmet McGuckin introduced.
it didn't seem to effect the visitors though as another Loughlin free sent Barton's team into the break with a 0-7 to 0-8 lead.
A superb individual point from Bell signalled the start of the second period but Mayo looked a different animal as the intensity levels were raised.
Point from Moran and O'connor (free) levelled the game at 0-9 a-piece as Keegan fisted against the bar and O'Connor sent another effort wide.
Heavron punctuated the home pressure with a brilliant long range point off the inside of the posts but Derry were again indebted to McKinless on 45 minutes. First Moran sent a superb angled drive off the Derry post but when O'Connor gathered the rebound and sent it goal wards, McKinless was again equal to it with his second vital stop of the game.
McKinless produced his third crucial stopm of the game on 56 minutes when Moran was sent clear, the Derry keeper diving low to his right to turn away the forward shot and keep the visitor's lead in tact.
That save looked even more vital as substitute James Kielt extended the Derry lead to two at 0-10 to 0-12 with a routine free, second after replacing the impressive Bell.
Mayo's wide count had hit 16 by the time Paddy Durcan brought it back to a single point game.
Chrissy McKaigue sent an effort inches wide before Derry hearts looked to be broken by Loftus' superb cameo. First he burst onto O'Connor's pass to fire brilliantly into the Derry net before adding a point second later for a 1-12 to 0-12 lead with time all but up.
But the drama was over yet. Derry surged upfield in a last desperate attack, McWilliams sending hopefully ball in toward the square which Mark Lynch leapt to fist into the net and force extra-time but it was to be to no avail.
MAYO: David Clarke; Brendan Harrison, Ger Cafferkey, Chris Barrett; Colm Boyle, Lee Keegan (0-1), Patrick Durcan (0-1); Aidan O'Shea (0-1),Tom Parsons; Fergal Boland, Donnie Vaughan (0-1), Stephen Coen, Kevin McLoughlin (0-1), Cillian O'Connor (0-12, 10f), Andy Moran (0-2). (Subs) Seamus O'Shea for D Vaughan; Jason Doherty (1-1) for S Coen; Conor Loftus (1-1) for A Moran 58mins; David Drake for B Harrison, 62mins; Shane Nally for Lee Keegan;
DERRY: Ben McKinless; Niall Keenan, Brendan Rogers, Karl McKaigue; Ciaran McFaul, Christopher McKaigue, Carlus McWilliams; Conor McAtamney, Danny Heavron (0-1); Ryan Bell (0-3), Niall Loughlin (0-6, 5f), Enda Lynn; Danny Tallon, Michael McEvoy, Benny Heron (0-1). (Subs) Mark Lynch (1-1) for D Tallon, 47mins. James Kielt (0-1, 1f) for R Bell, 57mins; Shane McGuigan for E Lynn, 70mins; Conor Nevin; Gavin O'Neill for N Loughlin. Conor Doherty for B Heron;
Black Card: Conor McAtamney (replaced by Emmet McGuckin, 33mins)