If you dropped the needle on a seven inch copy of “Teenage Kicks” by some of Derry’s most famous sons The Undertones in Celtic Park on Sunday, when Barry Moran picked out Mikie Sweeney inside the Derry defence, by the time the track had had belted it’s way through it’s 2.28 running time you would have seen Mayo comfortably win and almost lose the game in a hectic epilogue at the end of normal time.
While John O’Neill’s seminal punk-rock classic has been the blueprint for bands all over the world since its release 37-years-ago, Mayo will be looking to be working off a different set of plans when games are entering clutch time when championship comes around.
Sweeney who had come on minutes earlier for the impressive Mark Ronaldson a few minutes earlier after the Shurle-Glencorrib attacker picked up a black card bagged his second goal in as many games just as the game ebbed into additional time. His goal put Mayo five points clear and on the bus home with the points. But Brian McIver’s side hadn’t read the script and they after some ping-pong in the Mayo danger area Brian Óg McGilligan got his paw on the ball and applied the critical contact to send the ball past Kenneth O’Malley in the Mayo goal and cut the gap to two points, with seconds to spare. Derry won the ball from the resulting kick-out and only for some stout tackling by the Mayo rearguard in their own penalty area, forcing a turnover the Oak Leaf county could have been in for a second goal and send Mayo home with nothing to show for their visit to the home of one of Ireland’s greatest bands.
Mayo’s win was backboned by a number of impressive performances with Kevin Keane really looking at home in the number three shirt and putting in another good showing, with Seamus O’Shea in the middle of the park at his hard working best, while his brother Aidan drifted in between the full-forward line and the middle of the park as he was required over the 70 minutes and helped himself to three points in the process. The goal scoring ability of Sweeney who pounced has now scored two goals for Mayo in 15 or so minutes he’s been on the field over the last two games will surly have to be taken into consideration when the Mayo management team sit down to pick their side for the Dublin game next weekend. But then the man, you would expect him to be in direct competition with for a starting place Mark Ronaldson had bagged 1-2 for himself, before picking up the black card that saw him replaced by the Kiltane man.
Mayo went in leading by four at the break on a score of 1-7 to 0-6, with Ronaldson’s goal being the decisive score. The tricky corner forward showed a poachers instinct by following a Cillian O’Connor effort from a free into the danger area and reacting quickest when the ball came back off the post and sticking out his leg to direct it past Eoin McNicholl in the Derry goal.
The game had swung back and forth during the first half with Mayo leading by two points on a few occasions, but Derry were always in touching distance thanks to scores from the likes of Mark Lynch, Benny Heron and Mark Craig.
Jason Doherty got things moving for Mayo with less than 30 seconds gone on the clock when he swung over a sweet score from distance. The home side kicked the next two points, but Cillian O’Connor tied it up with his first of the day ten minutes in. Ronaldson landed his first score when he got on the end of a flowing move involving O’Connor and Aidan O’Shea and the Ballintubber man put two between the sides with his second point 18 minutes in. Craig pulled one back for Derry, but Mayo responded with two scores of their own from O’Shea and O’Connor. The home side then landed their own double through scores from Lynch and Brian Óg McAlary to leave the score at 0-6 to 0-5 ten minutes before the break. Mayo’s next score was Ronaldson’s goal and while Heron tagged on a point from a 45’ Mayo had the last score of the game when Aidan O’Shea landed his second. But Mayo did have a lucky escape with Michael McIver coming within inches of grabbing a goal for Derry right at the end of the half. Sean Leo McGoldrick cut along the Mayo end-line and flicked the ball across the face of goal. Kenneth O’Malley was caught flat footed as were his defenders and McIver who had just come on flicked the ball goalwards only to see it crash back off the bar and away to safety.
The second half started brightly for Mayo as they kept the scoreboard ticking over and with 16 minutes gone in the half they lead by five points, but the home-side were about to find and extra gear and they kicked the next five points on the bounce and had Mayo floundering. James Kielt kicked four points for Derry over the next nine minutes with Fergal Doherty chipping in with the other and the game was back to square one.
Kevin McLoughin eased Mayo’s jitters with a score that needed the inside of the post to go over after Aidan O’Shea had done the donkey work in the built up to restore Mayo’s lead and the Knockmore man put Mayo two points clear with six minutes left on the clock.
Neither side managed another score until Sweeney found the back of the net and that just kickstarted a whole other contest over the finals few minutes.
Derry:B Heron (0-04, 0-02f, 0-02 ’45' ), J Kielt (0-04, 0-03f ), B Óg McGilligan (1-00 ), M Lynch (0-02, 0-02f ) T O'Brien (0-01 ),M Craig (0-01 ), B Óg McAlary (0-01 )
Mayo: M Ronaldson (1-02 ),C O'Connor (0-04, 0-03f ), M Sweeney (1-00 ), A O'Shea (0-03 ), K McLoughlin (0-02, 0-01f ), J Doherty (0-01 )
Derry: E McNicholl; O Duffy, N Holly, D McBride; B Óg McAlary, K Johnston, SL McGoldrick; M Craig, B Óg McGilligan; C McWilliams, M Lynch, E Lynn; D McKinless, B Heron, A McAlynn. Subs: M McIver for McAlynn (31 ), J Kielt for McKinless (HT ), E McGuckin for McAlary (48 ), T O'Brien for McWilliams, S Brady for Kielt (BC, 68 )
Mayo: K O'Malley; T Cunniffe, K Keane, K Higgins; L Keegan, G Cafferkey, C Boyle; S O'Shea, D Kirby; K McLoughlin, A O'Shea, M Forde; M Ronaldson, C O'Connor, J Doherty. Subs: A Dillon for Forde (48 ), B Moran for Kirby (55 ), A Freeman for O'Connor (61 ), D Drake for Cafferky (61 ), M Sweeney for Ronaldson (BC, 65 )
Referee: Ciaran Branagan (Down )