Vital interventions at the start and the end of this encounter from Robbie Hennelly saw Mayo over the line to gain their first two points in this years National Football League. Right from throw in Hennelly was called into action after Karl O’Connell burst through from half-way with the ball, but one on one with Hennelly the keeper stood tall to stop Mayo getting off to a terrible start.
When it came to the crunch at the end of the game, the Breaffy man stood up a fired over two long range frees to give Stepehen Rochford’s side a well needed win. While Hennelly put in a big performance that also included saving a penalty from Conor McManus, the man of the match award had to go to Diarmuid O’Connor. The young Ballintubber man was in outstanding form once more for Mayo covering every inch of grass in Clones, chipping in with 1-1 and also putting in a number of key blocks in defence.
The first half of this contest was played at breakneck pace and Mayo went in leading by a single point at the short whistle, despite trailing by three just after the 20 minute mark. Aidan O’Shea’s involvement in the game lasted all of six minutes before he was sent to the sideline for what looked like a harsh black card was handed out by Joe McQuillian.
The home side started the better and 11 minutes in Conor McManus found the back of the net when he tapped in the rebound from his penalty that was saved by Robbie Hennelly. The home side were awarded the penalty after Fintan Kelly and Diarmuid O’Connor ended up in the back of the Monaghan net as both tried to get in on the end of a ball across the face of goal from Daniel McKenna.
Mayo levelled it up at 1-2 each two minutes later thanks to a Conor Loftus goal. Loftus picked up the break from a ball in by Colm Boyle (another who put in a massive shift alongside O’Connor ) and he set off at pace before firing low past Rory Beggan in the Monaghan goal. But it was Monaghan who reeled off the next three scores through McManus, Thomas Kerr and Shane Carey. The score from the Monaghan number ten Carey was the last one the home side would register from play for the rest of the game with Conor McManus and Rory Beggan getting the rest of their scores from placed balls.
Mayo stuck with them and a scores from Diarmuid O’Connor, Conor O’Shea and a brace from Evan Regan sent them in leading 1-6 to 1-5 at the turn around. O’Shea put in a very good shooting performance kicking two fantastic scores in the first half from tight out on the Hill side of the ground.
Five minutes into the second half Mayo had stretched that lead to five points when Diarmuid O’Connor toe poked the ball to the net after it broke kindly for him from a sideline ball in from Tom Parsons, after Jason Doherty had opened the scoring in the half four minutes earlier.
Lee Keegan was shown Mayo’s second black card 20 minutes from time and Monaghan cut the gap back to three points from the resulting McManus free. Monaghan kept plugging away and punishing Mayo indiscipline with McManus converting frees from all angles.
With seven minutes to go up came Monaghan goalkeeper Rory Beggan who slotted over a 45 to cut the gap back to one and a minute later McManus levelled it up from a close range free that had been brought in closer to goal by referee McQuillian.
Three minutes from time Robbie Hennelly drove over a point from well beyond the 45 meter line on the Hill side of the ground to put Mayo into the lead once more. Up from the back Drew Wylie had a chance to level it up in injury time, but the full back with the wrong man in the right place as his effort drifted wide and from the resulting Mayo attack Hennelly stroked over his second of the day to put his team two clear with time almost up and give Stephen Rochford his first league win as Mayo manager.
Monaghan: Conor McManus (1-8, 8f ), Thomas Kerr (0-1 ), Shane Casey (0-1 ), Fintan Kelly (0-1 ), Rory Beggan (0-1, 145 )
Mayo: Diarmuid O’Connor (1-1 ), Conor Loftus (1-0 ), Evan Regan (0-3, 2f ), Conor O’Shea (0-2 ), Kevin McLoughlin (0-2 ), Robbie Hennelly (0-2, 2f ), Jason Doherty (0-1 )
Mayo: R Hennelly; B Harrision, G Cafferkey, M Hall; L Keegan, C Boyle, S Nally; T Parsons, S O’Shea; D O’Connor, A O’Shea, K McLoughlin; E Regan, C Loftus, C O’Shea. Subs: J Doherty for A O’Shea (BC, 6 ), M Sweeney for C Loftus (45 ), D Vaughan for L Keegan (BC, 51 ), C Barrett for S Nally (56 ), J GIbbons for C O’Shea (65 ), A Moran for E Regan (66 )
Monaghan: R Beggan; C Walshe, D Wylie, R Wylie; K Duffy, F Kelly, K O’Connell; N McAdam, D Hughes; S Carey, D Malone, T Kerr; O Duffy, D McKenna, C McManus. Subs: R McAnespie for O Duffy (HT ), B McGinn for D Malone (45 ), C Boyle for K Duffy (46 ), C McCarthy for D McKenna (58 )
Ref: J McQuillan (Cavan )