Mortimer takes the Kingdom

Allianz National Football League

Mayo 1-12        Kerry 1-10

Mayo made it four wins from five in this year's national football league thanks to a very strong second half performance where they over-ran the All Ireland champions for long periods of the final 35 minutes — with only a last gasp Kieran O'Leary goal putting some gloss on the scoreboard for the home side. The introduction of Conor Mortimer six minutes into the second half, was the spark that seemed to ignite the Mayo attack as the Shrule-Glencorrib man kicked four points from play inside ten minutes, which saw Mayo going from 0-7 to 0-6 down to 0-12 to 0-8 up. The final gloss on the Mayo performance was added by Tom Parsons who with 13 minutes to go, charged through the heart of the Kerry defence to plant the ball low past Brendan Kealy, to put Mayo seven points to the good and travelling home with two points in the bag.

It wasn't all easy for Mayo who in the early stages of the second half twice survived Kerry goal chances which ended up as points when, they could have easily finished up in the back of the net. While Mortimer will steal most of the headlines for his contribution, it was far from a one-man inspired win, the foundations for the victory were laid all over the park, with Keith Higgins getting to grips with Colm Cooper keeping him as quiet as humanly possible on the field. Kieran Conroy did battle first with Micheál Quirke and then Kieran Donaghy, when the big Austin Stacks man was brought in for the second half. Enda Varley was the only man to score for Mayo in the first half when he clipped over four points and was the vocal point of most of Mayo's good attacks and Seamus O'Shea got through a power of work in the middle of the park, covering acres of ground over the seventy minutes.

The first half saw Mayo control an huge amount of possession but failing to convert it into scores on the board, with some of the old failings which have been levelled at teams down through the years coming back to haunt them. They kicked six wides from positions they could have scored from and dropped the same amount of efforts short of the target. Enda Varley was the only man to get on the board for Mayo in the opening half, the Garrymore man kicked four points(three of them from frees ) as Mayo squandered a number of chances to build up a lead and went in trailing at the break by 0-5 to 0-4 as Kerry were more clinical with the limited chances they had. The final moments of the half were soured when an off the ball incident on the Mayo 50-yard line saw a number of players square up to each other and Kerry's Adrian O'Connell end up on the deck.

Referee David Coldrick didn't see what happened, but after consulting with his umpires and linesmen, ended up showing yellow cards to Donal Vaughan and Andy Moran for Mayo and O'Connell and David Moran for Kerry. Kerry's scores before the break came from a brace each for Colm Cooper and Micheál Quirke and a single O'Leary effort.

Alan Dillon levelled the game up from a free less than a minute after the restart, but Kerry came back at Mayo hard in the opening few minutes. Colm Cooper had a gilt-edged chance to net the first goal of the game after Keith Higgins misjudged the flight of the ball, but his shot sailed over David Clarke's bar. Then a few minutes later Kieran Donaghy climbed high to win a long ball in and set up a move that ended up with O'Leary's shot clipping the top of the bar as it went over for another score. Andy Moran dropped over a point from a 45' with the aid of the finger tips of Quirke who tried to use all his frame to stop the ball from making it the full distance. But shortly after that, the younger Mortimer made his introduction and turned the game on its head in Mayo's favour. In a blistering ten minutes he gave Tom O'Sullivan the run-around and everything he tried worked out, hitting two points from almost impossible angles. Alan Dillon and his brother Trevor broke up Conor's scoring run as Mayo killed the game off as a contest.

John O'Mahony will be happy with two more points in the bag and a place in the league final still to be played for. But as they know down in Kerry the only result that matters is the one of the final Sunday in September and Mayo are a long way away from that just yet.

Mayo: D Clarke; L O'Malley, K Conroy, K Higgins; D Vaughan, T Howley, K McLoughlin; T Parsons (1-0 ), S O'Shea; A Moran (0-1, 1 45 ), M Ronaldson, T Mortimer (0-1 ); E Varley (0-4, 3f ), A O'Shea, A Dillon (0-2 ). Subs: C Mortimer (0-4 ), P Harte, B Kelly, M Sweeney

Kerry: B Kealy; P Reidy, T Griffin, T O'Sullivan; M O'Sé, A O'Mahony, A O'Connell; D Moran, A Maher; D O'Callaghan, D O'Sullivan, Darren O'Sullivan; C Cooper (0-4,3f ), B Sheehan (0-4, 3f ), K O'Leary (1-2 ). Subs: M Quirke, K Donaghy, S Scanlon, B Guiney, B Looney

Ref: D Coldrick (Meath )


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