Mayo went down to Kerry in their second game in the National Football League in McHale Park on Sunday, and when they look back on the game they will know that they had only themselves to blame for the four point defeat. After taking control of the game from the middle of the first half until right at the death, they failed to convert numerous scoring chances in to scores on the board. Mayo kicked and fisted eleven wides over the seventy minutes in a bitterly cold and wet McHale Park. The result of the game swung dramatically in the Munster mens favour seven minutes from the end when Robert Hennelly was harshly adjudged to have fouled Darran O'Sullivan for a penalty. The decision looked harsh and was one that Mayo manager James Horan described after the game as an unbelievable decision. Bryan Sheehan who had only come on as sub stepped up and calmly slotted the ball to the net sending Hennelly the wrong way. Kerry kicked on from there and added on two more points from Sheehan and Kieran O'Leary to wrap up a 1-9 to 0-8 win. Mayo's inability to convert their possession was the root cause of their failure to take the points from a game that was there to be won.
Both from play and from placed balls Mayo, were not at the races at all in the shooting stakes when it mattered. There were however a number of positives to be taken from the game, with the Mayo defence doing very well after a shaky opening quarter. Alan Feeney, Richie Feeney and Kevin McLoughlin all put in very good performance's with those around them grafting hard all day. Normally if a Mayo team could keep Colm Cooper to a point and Kieran Donaghy scoreless you would have assumed they were well on their way to a victory, but not this day.
Mayo going in level at the break didn't look like a possibility after the opening 15 minutes where at times Kerry looked to be toying with Mayo. The changing point in the half came after a quarter of an hour. Kieran Donaghy won the ball and played in Darren O'Sullivan who laid it off to David Geaney who shot for goal. Robert Hennelly pulled off a great save with his foot to send the ball high and away. At that stage Kerry were leading by three points and Mayo were struggling to make inroads at all, they were failing to clear the ball out of their own half on too many occasions. The visitors got their first score of the half when Geaney kicked a point from out on the right two minutes in, then four minutes later Darren O'Sullivan pointed after Colm Cooper took a quick free to set a move in motion. The Dr Crokes man got his only score of the day 12 minutes in when he tapped over a free from close range. Mayo finally got themselves on the scoresheet in the 20th minute when Ronan McGarrity put over a point from that little pocket of the field where his deadly accurate, coming in from the right hand side on his right foot between the 45m and 21m lines. Aidan Campbell added a free shortly afterwards and that was followed by another pointed free from Ronaldson to level the game up with ten minutes left in the half. David Geaney put Kerry back in front with a good point from play after a quick Darren O'Sullivan free was knocked into his path by Donaghy. Andy Moran leveled it up with the best Mayo score of the afternoon a huge point from out on the left hand side, then Aidan O'Shea finally got the ball under control to slot his only score of the day to put Mayo into the lead for the first time with four minutes to go before the break. The Kerry men did level it up before the midway mark through A Geaney free after McGarrity was judged to have over carried the ball coming out of defence. Mayo's inability to clear their lines lead to five of Kerry's scores in the game according to James Horan after the match.
The opening exchanges of the second half saw Kevin McLoughlin and Geaney exchange scores inside the opening six minutes. Mayo retook the lead through Aidan Campbell with 22 minutes left on the clock but that was soon counteracted by a Darren O'Sullivan point. The last Mayo score came from the boot of Neil Douglas who came on after 41 minutes for Mark Ronaldson with 18 minutes left on the clock. But that was to be the last time that Mayo troubled the umpire in the Albany end to raise the white flag. With a trip to Tuam and old rivals Galway next week a lot of work will have to be done, to ensure that that this years league campaign doesn't turn into a slog to avoid relegation.
Mayo: R Hennelly, R Feeney, A Feeney, T Cunniffe; P Gardiner, G Cafferkey, K McLoughlin (0-1 ); J Gibbons, R McGarrity (0-1 ); A Campbell (0-2 ), A Moran (0-1 ), A Dillon; A O'Shea (0-1 ), A Kilcoyne, M Ronaldson (0-1,1f ). Subs: N Douglas (0-1 ), T Parsons, J Doherty
Kerry: B Kealy; P Reidy, M O'Sé, S Enright; A O'Mahony, E Brosnan, J Lyne; S Scanlon, D Moran; G O'Driscoll, D O'Sullivan (0-2 ), D Walsh; C Copper (0-1,1f ), K Donaghy, D Geaney (0-4, 2f ). Subs: A Maher, D Casey, B Sheehan (1-1 ), K O'Leary (0-1 )