SFC quarter-final: Mayo run riot against Mourne men
August 04, 2012
Michael Conroy of Mayo breaks away from Darren O'Hagan of Down during the All-Ireland SFC quarter-final at Croke Park ©INPHO/Donall Farmer
The first ever championship meeting between Mayo and Down turned out to something of a damp squib at Croke Park this evening with the Connacht champions scoring a comprehensive 12-point All-Ireland SFC quarter-final victory.
The game was effectively over as a contest with 25 minutes left on the clock when Michael Conroy - who was a late addition to the Westerners' starting 15 - struck for his second goal to give James Horan's charges a commanding 3-9 to 1-6 lead.
Mayo seized the initiative early on courtesy of Jason Doherty's fifth minute goal and they held a six point advantage at the break after Conroy had raised his first, and his team's second, green flag eight minutes before the half-time whistle.
The win came at a cost, however, as Andy Moran sustained a serious looking knee injury in the 53rd minute.
The full-forward - who had caused plenty of headaches for the Mourne County defence - appeared to go over on his knee as he was tracking back and required a stretcher to leave the field.
He faces a race against time to be fit for Mayo's All-Ireland SFC semi-final fixture.
Doherty gave Mayo the perfect start when sliding the ball under the advancing Brendan McVeigh after being sent clean through by Moran.
Captain Moran then kicked the first point of the contest in the 8th minute following determined approach play by Keith Higgins and Alan Dillon.
Aidan O'Shea - who was also a late change on the Mayo starting 15 - dominated the early midfield exchanges along with his midfield partner Barry Moran and their Ulster opponents were struggling to gain a foothold around the middle third of the field.
Left half-back Aidan Carr opened Down's account in the 11th minute from a 30m free but a pull on Andy Moran's jerseys gave Cillian O'Connor the simple task of restoring the Connacht champions four point cushion.
Carr again showed his forwards how it was done when kicking his team's first point from play and the Mourne County trailed by 0-2 to 1-2 at the end of the opening quarter of an hour.
The sides were level a minute later when Kalum King got on the end of a movement involving Laverty and Benny Coulter to beat Mayo netminder David Clarke from close range for his first ever championship goal.
Dillon replied with a point for James Horan's charges but Carr struck for his third point soon after and there was nothing separating the teams at the 20 minute mark.
The crossbar denied O'Connor a goal in the 22nd minute but Conroy gained some compensation for the Westerners when sending the rebound over the bar.
Carr and O'Connor traded frees before wing-forward Kevin McLoughlin set up Conroy for Mayo's second goal in the 27th minute.
A brace of O'Connor frees gave Mayo a 2-7 to 1-6 cushion at half-time and the Moran captained side were full value for their six point lead.
The second half started as the first had ended with the team in green and red in the ascendancy and O'Connor converted a free within a minute of the resumption.
Half-time Down substitute Liam Doyle found the target from a placed ball in the 38th minute but O'Connor raised his sixth white flag of the game a minute later when Conor Garvey was penalised for a foul on Conroy.
Benny Coulter registered his first point of the game in the 40th minute but Conroy effectively ended the game as a contest when his second goal eight minutes into the second half.
Andy Moran showed good awareness to find O'Connor in space with a quick free and the centre-forward handpassed the ball across the face of the Down goalmouth to the waiting Conroy who palmed the ball to the net.
That left the scoreboard reading 3-9 to 1-6 and there was muted response when Carr landed a free shortly after.
A Dillon point from play restored Mayo's nine-point advantage and the remaining 20 minutes resembled a cakewalk for the winners although Moran's injury took some of the gloss of their success.
Coulter netted a late consolation goal for James McCartan's men in the second minute of added-on time.
Mayo - D Clarke, K Keane, G Cafferkey, K Higgins, L Keegan (0-1), D Vaughan, C Boyle, B Moran, A O'Shea (0-1), K McLoughlin (0-2), C O'Connor (0-7), A Dillon (0-4), M Conroy (2-1), A Moran (0-1), J Doherty (1-0). Subs - A Freeman for A Moran, R Feeney for Doherty, E Varley (0-1) for Conroy, J Gibbons for O'Shea, C Barrett for Boyle.
Down - B McVeigh; D O'Hagan, D Gordon, C Garvey; N McParland, B McArdle, K McKernan; A Rogers, K King (1-0); A Carr (0-7), M Poland, C Maginn; E McCartan, C Laverty, B Coulter (1-1). Subs - A Branagan for McParland, D O'Hare for McCartan, L Doyle (0-1) for Maginn, D Turley for Garvey, D Rooney for McArdle.
Ref - M Deegan (Laois).
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