It was hard to see Mayo making it five wins out of six in this years league, when regulation time was up in the first half. They trailed the visiting Monaghan side by six points and were clinging on for dear life. With four minutes of injury time almost up, sub Mark Ronaldson swept over a fine point after he was spotted by Conor Mortimer who had replaced him in the starting 15. The score cut the gap back to five, and the half time whistle beckoned. But referee Rory Hickey allowed play to go on and from the kick out Mayo regained possession of the size five. Tom Parsons won the ball and fed it into Ronaldson, who returned the favour to the Charlestown man. Donal Vaughan broke down the right flank, before moving inside to a more central position, where he was spotted by Parsons. The Ballinrobe half back had only one thing on his mind and blasted the ball to the back of the net, to leave Mayo within two points of their opponents at the break.
Vaughan's goal was one of the few bright spots in an opening half of football to forget from a Mayo perspective where the number of basic errors on display will have the Mayo coaching staff having nightmares for weeks to come.
Balls were dropped, passes over short distances were misplaced, runners weren't tracked and when the few chances that came their way arose, they were badly missed. But, Vaughan's goal and Ronaldson's point just before the break, flipped a switch in the second half where Mayo managed to take the game by the scuff of the neck and drive on to seal a deserved win in the end.
The Ulster men broke out of the blocks early and were three points to the good after only five minutes with Darren Hughes, Paul Finlay and Stephen Gollogly all getting on the boards early. Mayo had to thank Liam O'Malley that they didn't concede a goal in the opening stages, Conor McManus beat Kieran Conroy to the ball before breaking straight for goal and unleashing a shot which looked destined for the net only for the intervention of the Burrishoole man who managed to block the ball at the last second. Mayo's first point came from the boot of Alan Dillon who clipped over a free after Seamus O'Shea was pulled to the ground 40 yards from goal. Dillon's effort was in the seventh minute and it would take another seven minutes for Mayo to register their next score, once again from Dillon who cut the ball over the bar with the outside of his boot. Monaghan replied to that score by hitting four points without reply with Finlay popping over two placed balls, Darren Hughes landing a moster of a free kick and Conor McManus landing his second. With four minutes left before the end of the first half Donal Vaughan finished of a move involving Dillon and Conor Mortimer, before Monaghan pushed the lead back out to six thanks to efforts from McManus and Tommy Freeman. By this stage Alan Dillon had to go off after picking up a leg injury and was replaced by Ronaldson after 33 minutes. The nippy Shurle Glencorrib attacker played a pivotal role in changing he shape of the game before the half time turn around.
It all didn't click into place for Mayo straight after the sides swapped ends, Monaghan hit four points on the bounce just after the break through Paul Finlay and a single McManus effort to leave Mayo trailing by 0-13 to 1-4 and a place in the league final slipping away from them. With 12 minutes gone in the half, Enda Varley finally registered a score for Mayo from a free. A minute later the game changed in Mayo's direction. Liam O'Malley clipped a sideline ball into the path of Andy Moran, who had a quite day in comparison to his own high standards. Moran played a perfectly weighted ball into the path of Aidan O'Shea who was finally able to hold on to the ball and shake off his marker. The young Breaffy man made a beeline for the goal and blasted it past Shane Duffy to leave Mayo only two points behind and their tales up.
Conor Mortimer who didn't make the same impression as he did the week before, thought he had gabbed Mayo's third goal of the game a couple of minutes later after he applied the most delicate of finishes to the ball after catching it full on the volley. Aidan O'Shea had made a break for the goal, before he was closed down by the Monaghan defence, he lost his footing and from the deck hand passed the ball to Mortimer who arrowed it to the net. But the celebration was short lived, as O'Shea was deemed to have fouled the ball. However, Mortimer was the next man to get his name on the scoreboard when he clipped over a free to leave only one between the sides and then Kevin McLoughlin left it all square with 13 minutes left with a fine effort from out on the right. It was all Mayo at this stage, Ronaldson put Mayo into the lead for the first time, then Varley stretched the lead out to two. Finlay hit back for the visitors with a point from a free, before Chris Barrett had Mayo moving into double figures for points for the day. With time running out, Finlay sent a free wide and then landed one a matter of seconds later and the scoreboard hung on a knife edge. But it was to be Mayo's day and late points from Andy Moran and Tom Parsons sealed the win for Mayo. Next stop Cork in two weeks time and place in the league final up for grabs down on the banks of the Lee.
Mayo scorers: D Vaughan (1-1 ), A O'Shea (1-0 ), A Dillon (0-2,1f ), M Ronaldson (0-2 ), E Varley (0-2, 1f ), C Mortimer (0-1 ), K McLoughlin (0-1 ), C Barrett (0-1 ), A Moran (0-1 ), T Parsons (0-1 )
Monaghan scorers: D Hughes (0-2, 1f, 1 45 ), S Gollogly (0-1 ), C McManus (0-3, 1f ) P Finlay (0-9, 7f )
Mayo: D Clarke; L O'Malley, K Conroy, K Higgins; D Vaughan, T Howley, K McLoughlin; T Parsons, S O'Shea; A Moran, A Dillon, T Mortimer; E Varley, A O'Shea, C Mortimer. Subs: M Ronaldson for A Dillon (32 mins ), C Barrett for K Higgins (43 mins ), G Cafferkey for Howley (62 mins )
Monaghan: S Duffy; D Moan, C Greenan, D McArdle; C Walshe, D Hughes, N McAdam; D Clerkin, P Finlay; S Gollogly, D Mone, K Hughes; H McElroy, C McManus, T Freeman. Subs: C Hanratty for H McElroy (21 mins ), V Corey for D McArdle (35 mins ), R Woods for D Malone (54 mins ), John Paul Mone for Gollogly (64 mins )
Ref: R Hickey (Clare )