Mayo fall short at the end in high scoring opener

National Football League

Kildare 2-19

Mayo 2-18

In the end it was a man with Mayo blood in his veins who kicked the winner in Newbridge, but unfortunately for the large Mayo crowd who made up a big part of the 6,000 plus in attendance Paddy Brophy, the son of a Mayo mother was wearing the number 13 shirt of the Lillywhites. His skyscraper of an effort from out on the right-hand-side of the field deep into the one minute of injury time played by Rory Hickey was the score that separated the sides at the final whistle.

Nobody expected that a game like this, it was hard at times to keep up with the breakneck action in the final 20 minutes as the one side took the lead, then were clawed back and then fell behind and then pulled themselves level again. Between the two sides, they managed to tally up 41 scores when all was totted up over the 70 minutes, the kind of thing usually the preserve of the latter stages of the hurling championships. While both attacks showed plenty of sparkle, both defences showed that lots of work still needs to be done over the coming months. While Mayo manager James Horan said after the game that he thought some players were afraid to put in tackles because of the introduction of the black card.

The good for Mayo saw Adam Gallagher make an impressive league debut, the Mayo Gaels man was lively for the time he was on the pitch helping himself to three points and showing strength on the ball as well as plenty of guile. Kevin McLoughlin helped himself to eight points and Andy Moran came more and more into the game as the contest went on showing the leadership the captain has become so well known for. Keith Higgins started at centre-half forward and stayed in the forward line before he left the action near the end. Higgins hoovered up a lot of ball in the opening half from breaks, but his presence may be required further back as the year goes on. Both David Drake and Diarmuid O'Connor got stuck in and involved in a lot of the action when they came on in the second half with the Ballintubber youngster grabbing a fine score. Jason Gibbons put in a fine shift after replacing Tom Parsons early on, as the Charlestown man who was making his national league return for Mayo after a number of years was unfortunatly taken to hospital after a clash less than ten minutes in. Gibbons was partnered in the second half by Brian Gallagher after Aidan O'Shea was controversially shown a black card just before the break.

Mayo looked took to the game quicker than their hosts in the early stages of the game and put themselves into a 0-4 to 0-2 lead ten minutes in with McLoughlin, Adam Gallagher, Aidan O'Shea and Robbie Hennelly getting scores. Hennelly nailed three 45's out of three in the first half, with each of them never in doubt once he struck them. With ten minutes to go in the half, Mayo had pushed that lead out to three points an were leading 0-9 to 0-6 and looking good with Kildare's Paul Cribbin getting a black card for a trip on Adam Gallagher which resulted in a free that was converted by McLoughlin. But Kildare were about to hit a purple patch and went on to score 1-4 to Mayo's 0-1 over the next ten minutes. The goal was the key score and came from Tomas O'Connor who had already been causing them a handful when the ball was played in on top of the Mayo defence. O'Connor collected a high ball in near the end line, cut by his marker Kevin Keane and sold Robert Hennelly in the Mayo goal a dummy before finishing low to the net. O'Connor had scored a point previously to that goal from a similar situation when he got in between defender and goalkeeper and punched the ball over the bar.

Just before the break, Mayo saw O'Shea sent to the line for a black card after a tangle and looked more like a booking than an offense the black card introduced to try and curb. The hosts went in leading 1-11 to 0-10 at the break a score that in the past a paying customers would have been happy to see at the end of a round one league game.

The second half didn't let up in terms of pace, scores or excitement for those in attendance as Mayo kicked 2-8, but Kidare's return of 1-7 over. Kildare pushed their lead out to six points two minutes into the half but not long after Mayo hit their own purple patch and bagged two goals inside four minutes, the first from Gibbons who got on the end of a of beautifully weighted pass from Adam Gallagher before driving the ball to the net. Mayo leveled the game up seven minutes in when Darren Coen found the back of the net with the aid of a deflection from close range. Shane McHale pushed Mayo into a one point lead three minutes later and Horan's side looked to be wrestling control of the game back only for the game to be turned on it's head once again a minute later when Eoghan O'Flaherty got the games fourth goal. From then on in it was tit for tat with each side kicking point after point, Mayo thought they had the game saved when Kevin McLoughlin pointed a free right at the end of normal time after Kildare goalkeeper Shane Connolly had been blown up for over carrying, but there was still one more twist in this tale left to come yet.

Kildare: S Connolly, M O’Grady, M Foley, O Lyons, K Murnaghan, E Bolton, P Cribbin (0-1 ), T Moolick, G White, C McNally (0-3 ), E O’Flaherty (1-02 ), S Hurley (0-1 ), P Brophy (0-6 ), T O’Connor (1-1 ), D Mulhall (0-3, 2f ).

Subs: D Hyland (0-1 ) for Cribbin (BC ), F Conway for Lyons, H McGrillen (0-1 ) for Bolton, D Flynn for Moolick, M Conway for White

Mayo: R Hennelly (0-3, 3 ’45 ), K Keane, G Cafferkey, C Boyle, L Keegan (0-1 ), S McHale (0-1 ), B Harrison, T Parsons, A O’Shea (0-1 ), C Carolan, K Higgins, A Gallagher (0-3,1f ), K McLoughlin (0-8,5f ), A Moran, D Coen (1-0 ).

Subs: J Gibbons (1-0 ) for Parsons, B Gallagher for O’Shea (BC ), D Drake for Harrison, D O’Connor (0-1 )for Coen, A Freeman for Higgins, E Varley for Gallagher

Referee: R Hickey (Clare ).

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