Mayo have plenty to work on after Kildare win

Mullin magic: Oisin Mullin's goal was key to Mayo's win over Kildare. Photo: Sportsfile

Mullin magic: Oisin Mullin's goal was key to Mayo's win over Kildare. Photo: Sportsfile

We have been put through the wringer on several occasions in the last number of years in nail-biting games, you would think we would be used to it by now.

But last Saturday evening's round two qualifier against Kildare almost brought it to a new level, because Mayo were figuratively dead and buried as we trailed by eleven points to five with 40 minutes gone.

Then had Enda Hession not executed a critical block on Daniel Flynn who was going for a goal when the score was 0-11 to 0-6, it would have put the result beyond doubt and the Lillywhites would have cantered home. I have no doubt about that because Mayo were all over the place at that stage.

The first half was as bad a half of football as I can remember Mayo playing. The players looked dead on their feet and void of ideas and incapable of breaking down a packed Kildare defence that shipped five goals against Dublin in the Leinster final after only 23 minutes.

The only three positives from that opening 35 minutes was Jack Carney’s opening score of the game from a very tight angle, the powerful running of Eoghan Mcloughlin and Lee Keegan who combined for three points between them, and the marvellous fetch by Carney after a wayward attempt by James Carr which led to McLaughlin's second point.

As it turned out, that score from McLaughlin was a wonder save, brilliantly deflected over by surprise choice Kildare keeper Aaron O'Neill, who ended up having a début to forget. It was our defenders who were showing our forwards where the posts were. Kildare weren't much better themselves, none of their forwards scored from play at all in the opening half.

I can only imagine it was a first when the starring 12 forwards in a game only managed a single point from play between them in the opening 35 minutes and that was Jack Carney's opening score.

Mayo went in 0-8 to 0-5 down at the interval, Fergal Boland was thrown into the action for Jason Doherty after 28 minutes. I'm not sure if Doherty picked up a knock or not, but any of the six starting forwards could have been hauled ashore at that stage.

Mullin magic pulls us back

The second half started as bad as the first finished as Mayo conceded the first three scores of the second half going behind by six having only scored five themselves at that point. I really thought there was no way back from this mess we found ourselves in.

Mayo rallied unbelievably for the last 25 minutes or so, led brilliantly by who else but Lee Keegan, who scored an inspirational point with the outside of his weaker left foot from 40 metres. Fergal Boland too proved a real threat, scoring two and setting up others. It amazes me how Boland plays games and plays well in them at times and then we don't see him for an age.

Conor Loftus, the two O'Connors and Darren McHale all pointed from play at crucial junctures. Why this did not happen in the first half seems to be the question everyone is asking. Mayo were still three down just after the hour mark when Oisin Mullin made a burst from deep.

He looked to be going down a cul de sac where Kildare would snuff him out but a generous Kildare defender actually knocked him back towards the Kildare goal where he fed Padraic O'Hora before receiving the return and hammering home a left-footed pile driver. The Kildare keeper did go down very early to try to stop Mullins shot. Had he stood tall he may well have saved it.

That brought Mayo level and they somehow managed to sneak into a two-point lead with the game almost up. Kildare pressed high up the field in search of a goal including their keeper O'Neill as Jordan Flynn gathered possession on the 45.

Go to the corner, run the clock down, I pleaded from the press area but Flynn had other ideas and perfectly glided a shot over the retreating keeper, O Neill ,for a top class goal. Game over, we won a game by five points we really should have lost. Getting drawn against Kerry in the quarter final was a sobering outcome on Monday morning, we will have more about that next week.

Rossies will be sickened to lose that one

Roscommon must be absolutely sickened after losing out to Clare in their qualifier. I thought it was a great spectacle with some marvellous scores. They seemed to play the perfect game.

Two down at half time but the Rossies increased the tempo in the second half, thanks mainly to the introduction of some very effective substitutes to completely take over.

They looked to be home and hosed only to concede 1-02 in injury time to lose by a solitary point. A stuff of nightmares for them but credit to Clare for never throwing in the towel. It's hard to believe the last time Roscommon won a championship game on the hallowed turf was in 1980 in the All-Ireland semi final against Armagh, 42 years ago.

Magic minors go again

Our minors were cruising for the most part in their quarter final against Kildare but a few late goals from Kildare made it a nervy enough finish. They too have now qualified to play Kerry in the semi final.

Ironically, the other three Provincial winners were all beaten in their quarter finals leaving Mayo the only unbeaten team left in the competition. Let's hope it stays that way. Ronan Clarke (1-06 ), Niall Hurley 2-04 ) and substitute Oliver Armstrong ( 0-04 ) scored 3-14 between them in what were very impressive individual performances.


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