Mayo bounced back from two defeats on the bounce to seal a place in this years National Football League final against Kerry after an impressive eight point win over Kildare, that consigned their opponents to division two football after results went agains them elsewhere.
James Horan was absent from the action, but his side put in an impressive shift over the course of a free flowing 70 minutes of football played in championship like conditions in Leitrim.
Mayo made a number of changes from the team that was announced to start in the days before the game with James Carr, Diarmuid O’Connor, Rory Brickenden and Brendan Harrision all coming into the starting 15.
Mayo will be worried though about losing both Harrison and O’Connor to injury before half time, with Harrison having to be stretchered off early doors.
But they will take great encouragement from the fact that they kicked all but two of their scores from play over the game, with Jason Doherty getting five points from play and Jack Carney also chipping in with three points from open field action.
Ryan O’Donoghue was once again the talisman for Mayo winning loads of ball that was played into him despite the attention he was getting from the Kildare defence and helping himself to 1-3 for the day, while Jordan Flynn chipped in with 1-2 from play - his goal coming at a vital stage in the second half that saw Mayo get the separation they needed to keep the Kildare challenge at bay and drive on to victory.
The game was played in a free flowing manner with both sides looking to attack at every opportunity, moving the ball at pace from the boot and get it down the field as quickly as they could.
Holding on: Oisin Mullin looks to keep hold of the ball for Mayo. Photo: Sportsfile
Goals in either half from Ryan O’Donoghue and Jordan Flynn kept Mayo’s noses in front all the time during an entertaining contest played at championship pace at times.
Both sides swapped a brace of points each in the opening exchanges and were level at two points each after ten minutes, with Mayo also losing Brendan Harrison to injury early on.
Ryan O’Donoghue who was Mayo’s talisman throughout winning almost every ball put in his direction during the afternoon got their first goal 12 minutes in, finishing off a move involving Aidan O’Shea and Oisin Mullin in the build up.
Kildare kept themselves in touch with Ben McCormack, Darragh Kirwin and Paul Cribbin all getting a number of points.
Mayo were three points up with with not long left in the first half, but points from Jimmy Hyland and McCormack in injury time saw just one between the sides at the half-time whistle.
The second half saw both sides go tit for tat early on on the scoring front with points from Paddy Woodgate and Hyland leaving the score at 1-14 to 0-16 in Mayo’s favour as the 50th minute approached.
Mayo then plundered their second goal of the day through Jordan Flynn who first home from close range to put Mayo into a four point lead that they never looked back from. Kildare introduced Daniel Flynn for the final 20 minutes or so to try and get back into the game, but the Mayo defence were able to martial him well and see it out.
Mayo went on to add six more points with Jason Doherty and Jack Carney both adding two points each and Flynn and Michael Plunkett putting the finishing touches to the win that sends them into the league final against Kerry in Croke Park.
Mayo: Ryan O’Donoghue (1-3, 1m ), Jason Doherty (0-5 ), Jordan Flynn (1-2 ), Jack Carney (0-3 ), James Car (0-2, 1m ), Padraig O’Hora (0-2 ), Michael Plunkett (0-2 ), Matthew Ruan (0-1 )
Kildare: Ben McCormack (0-4 ), Jimmy Hyland (0-4, 3f, 1m ), Darragh Kirwin (0-3 ), Paddy Woodgate (0-2 ), Paul Cribbin (0-2 ), Kevin Flynn (0-1 ), Mark Donnellan (0-1, 1f ), Brian McLoughlin (0-1 )
MAYO: Rory Byrne; Lee Keegan, David McBrien, Brendan Harrison; Oisin Mullin, Aidan O’Shea, Rory Brickenden; Jordan Flynn, Matthew Ruane; Michael Plunkett, Jack Carney, James Carr; Diarmuid O’Connor, Jason Doherty, Ryan O’Donoghue.
Subs: Padraig O’Hora for Harrison, Kevin McLoughlin for Diarmuid O’Connor, Aiden Orme for Carr, Stephen Coen for Jason Doherty
KILDARE: Mark Donnellan; Mick O’Grady, Shea Ryan, Ryan Houlihan; Tony Archbold, James Murray, Darragh Ryan Kevin Feely, Kevin Flynn; Kevin O’Callaghan, Ben McCormack, Paul Cribbin; Paddy Woodgate, Darragh Kirwin, Jimmy Hyland.
Subs: Darragh Malone for Houlihan, Daniel Flynn for O’Callaghan, Alex Beirne for Woodgate, Brian McLoughlin for McCormack, Paddy McDermott for Ryan,