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Division 1 FL: Conroy on target as Mayo defeat 14-man Donegal

Mayo gained revenge for their loss in the 2012 All-Ireland final.

Mayo's Michael Conroy scores a goal past Donegal goalkeeper Paul Durcan.
Mayo's Michael Conroy scores a goal past Donegal goalkeeper Paul Durcan.

Mayo 1-10
Donegal 0-9

MICHAEL CONROY’S GOAL in the second-half was pivotal to Mayo’s victory over Donegal this afternoon in Castlebar.

Mayo turned the tables on their conquerors in last September’s All-Ireland final in a key game for James Horan’s men after four successive defeats.

This was a significant success for the Connacht outfit as they battle to stay in the top flight and avoid relegation.

But Donegal endured a tough afternoon as the loss puts them in the fight to avoid the drop while they finished the match with 14 men after Anthony Thompson was sent-off for a second yellow card.

And there was further anxiety for manager Jim McGuinness as key defender Neil McGee went off with an ankle injury.

It was a match where Donegal started brightly as their ace attackers Michael Murphy and Colm McFadden notched a brace of points apiece to send them into a 0-4 to 0-1 lead by the 16th minute.

However Mayo, who welcomed Cillian O’Connor back to the fray after he had recovered from a damaged shoulder, turned the game around before half-time.

It was O’Connor, playing his second game for the county this weekend after featuring in the Mayo U21’s Connacht championship loss yesterday, who was central to that revival as he and Kevin McLoughin helped them fashion a 0-6 to 0-4 interval lead.

Donegal fought back after the break and when Rory Kavanagh pointed, the teams were tied at 0-7 apiece.

Then Mayo struck for the vital goal through Conroy after good work by Seamus O’Shea and Donegal suffered setbacks then with the loss of McGee through injury and Thompson, when he was dismissed.

Donegal fought to the end with a Michael Murphy converting a free to see them only trail by 1-8 to 0-9 with ten minutes remaining.

But Mayo, who were inspired by man-of-the-match Barry Moran at midfield, finished off the game in style despite seeing Jason Doherty sent off for a second yellow card.

Enda Varley grabbed two points to clinch victory as Mayo get set for their last game in a fortnight against Cork while Donegal will round off their campaign against Dublin.

Mayo’s Lee Keegan celebrates after the final whistle
Pic: INPHO/Cathal Noonan

Scorers for Mayo: Cillian O’Connor 0-5 (0-4f), Michael Conroy 1-0, Kevin McLoughlin (0-1f), Enda Varley 0-2 each, Colm Boyle 0-1.
Scorers for Donegal: Michael Murphy (0-2f), Colm McFadden (0-1f) 0-3 each, Rory Kavanagh, Ryan McHugh, Marty O’Reilly 0-1 each.

Gavin Cooney
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MAYO: David Clarke (Ballina); Chris Barrett (Belmullet), Ger Cafferkey (Ballina Stephenites), Keith Higgins (Ballyhaunis); Lee Keegan (Westport), Tom Cunniffe (Castlebar Mitchels), Colm Boyle (Davitt’s); Seamus O’Shea (Breaffy), Barry Moran (Castlebar Mitchels); Kevin McLoughlin (Knockmore), Aidan O’Shea (Breaffy), Cathal Carolan (Crossmolina); Cillian O’Connor (Ballintubber), Jason Doherty (Burrishoole), Michael Conroy (Davitt’s).

Subs: Richie Feeney (Castlebar Mitchels) for C O’Connor (54), Donal Vaughan (Ballinrobe) for K Higgins (58), Enda Varley (Garrymore) for M Conroy (61), B Gallagher for S O’Shea (63)

DONEGAL: Paul Durcan (Four Masters); Paddy McGrath (Ardara), Neil McGee (Gweedore), Eamonn McGee (Gweedore); Declan Walsh (Malin), Frank McGlynn (Glenfin), Anthony Thompson (Naomh Conaill); Neil Gallagher (Glenswilly), Rory Kavanagh (St Eunan’s); Ryan Bradley (Buncrana), Leo McLoone (Naomh Conaill), Mark McHugh (Kilcar); Patrick McBrearty (Kilcar), Michael Murphy (Glenswilly), Colm McFadden (St Michael’s).

Subs: Ross Wherity (St Eunan’s) for D Walsh (22), Ryan McHugh (Kilcar) for R Bradley (HT), Martin O’Reilly (Sean MacCumhaill’s) for L McLoone (HT), Ryan Bradley (Buncrana) for N McGee (45), Martin McElhinney (St Michael’s) for R Wherity (63)

Ref: Marty Duffy (Sligo)

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