There will always be quibbles with the referees decisions in games, there were plenty to pick over from Rory Hickey’s display. In particular in the 26th minute when Aidan O’Shea was manhandled to the deck by a couple of Kerry players including Aidan O’Mahony, who were aided by Kieran Donaghy testing the strength of the material in the black and lime Mayo jersey. Aidan managed to scoop the ball over the bar somehow from being right under the crossbar for a point, but Hickey should have blown for a penalty before he ever got the shot off. But it wasn’t refereeing decisions that cost Mayo in MacHale Park, it was just bad decision making, poor execution of skills and just not being at the races in the final 35 minutes, all their own doing.
Decisions go against you in every game and it’s how you react to them that defines you, Mayo will also be cursing their luck that a little pirouette from Darran O’Sullivan on the 45m line saw him take out two Mayo defenders and pick out Johnny Buckley coming off the shoulder and the Dr Crokes man burried the ball low to the back of the Mayo net, to send Kerry in trailing by only one point at the break rather than the four that Mayo’s dominance on the field probably deserved at that stage. But that was as much down for Mayo’s defensive positioning as it was to the quick feet of O’Sullivan.
But what happened in the second half will take time for many of the Mayo faithful who once again packed into cheer them on in their thousands to get over, the official attendance was just south of 13,000 with at least 11,500 of them backing green and red.
The second half saw Mayo crumble to a fourth league defeat and leave them in second last place with a woeful at present Down side propping up the table below them. Kerry outscored Mayo by 1-10 to 0-7 in the second half and played the final 20 odd minutes with a man less than Mayo and looked like they had the extra man. The difference in both sides efficency in front of goal was miles apart, with Mayo registering 12 wides the four that Kerry put up, with Kerry only putting the ball past the end-line once in the entire second half, while Mayo kept putting shot after shot wide and misplacing the final pass.
Kerry started the game the brightest and Bryan Sheehan had a chance to put them into an early lead, but the St Mary’s man uncharacteristically skewed the ball wide on the far side. Four minutes in Peter Crowley marched up the field unchecked and he was able to slam the ball over the bar after being picked out by Colm Cooper with the pass. Two minutes later Kerry were two clear when Darran O’Sullivan slung an effort over the bar after being picked out by Johnny Buckley. By this stage Mayo had registered their first two wides of the game with Seamus O’Shea missing from play and Kevin McLoughlin kicking a very scroable free the wrong side of the post. The Knockmore man did kick Mayo’s first point of the day not long after form play. Mayo’s shooting let them down again soon enough, when Conor O’Shea got under his effort to much and it dropped just short. But to be fair it wasn’t just Mayo who were having problems with their shooting, with Bryan Sheehan missing another one from well within his range just before the ten minute mark.
Mayo levelled things up 11 minutes in when Robbie Hennelly drove over a free from beyond the 45m line after Aidan O’Shea was fouled, Diarmuid O’Connor put Mayo in front for the first time with a brilliant right footed effort on the run close to the touch line on the stand side of the field. But unfortunately for Mayo they couldn’t get O’Connor into the game at all. Hennelly had another crack at a free from beyond 50m range, but this one dropped just short as the game slipped past the quarter of an hour stage.
Shane Nally extended Mayo’s lead with a firm finish from the McHale Road side not long after Hennelly’s effort. Kerry cut the gap back to one when Sheehan finally found his scoring range with a free from close in after Cooper was fouled. Mayo went on to hit the next three scores through Aidan O’Shea, a Hennelly 45’ and a free from McLoughlin, but Keegan missed a great chance after he blew up the field following an intercept and McLoughlin missed his second bad free of the day from close range. Just before the break Kerry landed their first sucker punch when Buckley goaled to close the gap to just one at the turn around, but Mayo still had plenty left in them or so it looked. Especially as the Mayo defence had by-in-large been excellent in the first half, hassling and harrying the Kerry defence and forcing a number of turnovers, but that all changed after restart.
O’Sullivan and Aidan O’Shea swapped points early on following the restart, Kerry then reeled off three without reply over the next seven minutes with Buckley kicking one after good work by O’Sullivan and Cooper. Sheehan kicked on from a free and Cooper added another from a placed ball, before Parsons responded for Mayo.
The next score proved to be the decisive one in the game, Cooper lined up a free from the stand side of the field, but he undercooked it’s execution and Robert Hennelly came out to try and clear the ball with a punch, but he didn’t make clean contact and the ball flew backwards where Donnachadh Walsh was on hand to pounce and put Kerry into a 2-7 to 0-9 lead and Mayo were chasing the game from now on Cooper added a point from a free in the 51st minute and a minute later Kieran Donaghy was shown the line after picking up his second yellow card in six minutes, his second for a foul on Andy Moran.
Mayo had plenty of the ball but couldn’t convert it into scores kicking a few bad wides and playing poorly chosen balls into Aidan O’Shea on the edge of the square who was double marked quite often. Kerry kept chipping away on the scoreboard adding four more points before the end of the day with Mayo tacking on four of the their own two from frees from Andy Moran, with Jason Doherty fisting another over the bar and Seamus O’Shea kicking one over when there was no other option or potential goal threatening pass to pick out in the dying embers of the game.
Mayo themselves were also reduced to 14 men before the end when Diarmuid O’Connor picked up a second yellow card for a clash out on the MacHale Road side of the ground. It was a disappointing day for team Mayo and more so for the supporters, with a weekend off from action coming up for all bar the u21s, there’ll be plenty of fine tuning done between now and Mayo’s trip to Hyde Park on Easter Sunday, where they are running into a rampant and confident Roscommon team, which is going to be a very dangerous prospect.
Mayo:K McLoughlin (0-3, 1f ), A O’Shea (0-2 ), R Hennelly (0-2, 1f 145’ ), A Moran (0-2, 2f ), D O’Connor (0-1 ), T Parsons (0-1 ), S Nally (0-1 ), S O’Shea (0-1 )
Kerry: J Buckely (1-1 ), D Walsh (1-0 ), P Crowley (0-2 ), D O’Sullivan (0-2 ), C Cooper (0-2, 2f ), B Sheehan (0-2, 2f ) M O’Sé (0-1 ) BJ Keane (0-1 ), B O’Sullivan (0-2 )
Mayo: R Hennelly; B Harrision, G Cafferkey, C Barrett; L Keegan, C Boyle, S Nally; T Parsons, S O’Shea; D O’Connor, A O’Shea, K McLoughlin; E Regan, J Doherty, C O’Shea. Subs: S Coen, A Moran, M Sweeney, C Barrett, J Gibbons
Kerry: B Kealy; M Ó’Sé; M Griffin, S Enright; P Crowley, A O’Mahony, F Fitzgerald; K Donaghy, B Sheehan; J Buckley, P Murphy, D Walsh; D O’Sullivan, C Cooper, S O’Brien. Subs: B Kelly for B Kealy (BS ), B Kealy for B Kelly (BS ), BJ Keane, B O’Sullivan, P O’Connor, J Lyne, D Daly.
Ref: R Hickey (Clare )