If there was a dance on in Billy Brennan's barn on Sunday night, it's doubtful that James Horan would be letting any of his players partake in the delights that were on offer in the picturesque Monaghan village of Inniskeen. While the famous native poet Patrick Kavanagh who was educated in a school house just beside the well appointed ground, wrote of a July evening on the road around those parts, this is not the kind of result or performance that any Mayo supporter wants to see come this July. Speaking shortly after a game in which his charges played with what looked like only a passing interest the Ballintubber man was far from happy, and when asked what could he take from the game. “Not much out of today to be honest, very disappointed with the result obviously, but mainly with our performance.We just didn't tackle all day, we had guys running through all day and we just watched them all day. I think in the second half Paul Finlay scored eight points and we just let them run through and eventual foul them. Everything else was quite poor as well, but if you don't work hard enough everything will be poor. That is a disappointing thing.” Was his assessment
Horan's honesty about the performance was well founded, in what was a final audition for some players looking to get nail down a place in the squad for the championship, there was a lack of urgency from a number of players.
Mayo led at the break by two points on a scoreline of 1-9 to 1-7 thanks to a late goal well finished goal from Andy Moran but in all honesty Monaghan should have had three goals on the scoreboard at that stage. Tommy Freeman scored the first goal of the game five minutes in when Mayo failed to deal with a high ball in and he was able to lash it to the net soccer style. Seven minutes later Monaghan breezed through the Mayo defence to play in Conor McManus clear through on David Clarke. The big Ballina man who was making his first start in the league after injury pulled off a great save to deny the Monaghan corner forward. Two minutes later it was Paul Finlay who would go on to become the man of the match, was also put through unmarked on Clarke but he screwed his effort wide of the post. Despite Monaghan having the vast majority of the ball and Freeman and Finlay causing all sorts of problems, Mayo were able to keep in touch with thanks to their inside forward line particularly unsurprisingly Alan Freeman and Jason Doherty who had the beating of their men when the ball came into them. Doherty contributed two points in the first half with Aidan Campbell chipping in with three points for Mayo in the opening 35 minutes. Mayo looked like they were going to go in at the break trailing by two points, until Moran netted just as the half moved into injury time. Jason Doherty showed good awareness to nip in and steal a short kick out from Mark Keogh in the Monaghan goal to the left flank. He picked the ball up and moved in quickly to Moran who powered it to the net. “We weren't up at the tempo we needed to be all over the field. Mainly areas around the middle of the field, they dominated the possession and won the majority of breaking ball and we struggled to get primary possession and that was a huge area around the middle third is where they dominated.” Was what James Horan saw as being the key problem for his side at the break.
The Farney men had Mayo's two point advantage at the break erased three minutes into the second half thanks to points from Freeman and Finlay. For the next few minutes it was nip and tuck between the sides, with Finaly keeping the scoreboard ticking over for his side and Andy Moran and Aidan Campbell adding on scores for Mayo to leave the game level at 1-11 each after 50 minutes. With 18 minutes left in the contest Jason Doherty grabbed his seventh goal of the league campaign. The Burrishoole man conjured his goal in Inniskeen from nothing. He collected the ball near the end line and with little in the way of support he had no option but to take on the Monaghan defence, he managed to break a couple of challenges to get himself in front of the posts. Despite at one stage loosing the ball, he managed to pick it up again and drive it to the back of the net to put Mayo into a three point lead. But it would be another 11 minutes before Mayo managed to score again. In the intervening minutes Monaghan went on to kick five unanswered points, four from the boot of Finlay, with Conor McManus adding the other, Mayo never recovered from that scoring spurt form Monaghan and despite two late scores from James Burke, Monaghan were able to keep the board ticking over thanks to scores from Finlay and a Darren Hughes to seal a deserved win, even if it was too little to late for them as results elsewhere ensured that they will be playing league football in division two next year.
Mayo: D Clarke, C Hallinan, A Feeney, K Higgins; P Gardiner, G Cafferkey, J Burke (1-3,2F ); S O'Shea, T Parsons; A Campbell (0-4,1F ), A Moran (1-1 ), K McLoughlin (0-1 ); E Varley, A Freeman (0-1 ), J Doherty (1-3,2f ). Subs: R O'Connor, R Rochford, C O'Connor, B Moran, A Kilcoyne
Monaghan: M Keogh; K Duffy, D Hughes (0-1 ), C Walshe; C Galligan, D Mone, M McNally; O Lennon, N McAdam; D Clerkin, M Downey, T Freeman (1-3,3f ); C McGuinness, P Finlay (0-11,9f ), C McManus (0-3,3f ). Subs: O Duffy, D Morgan, S Gollogly, D McArdle, J Turley
Ref: E Kinsella (Laois )