Thursday 19 October 2017

O'Hare gets Down off mark

Down 0-13 Mayo 0-11

Conor Laverty, Down, in action against Lee Keegan, centre, and Jason Doherty, right, Mayo.
Conor Laverty, Down, in action against Lee Keegan, centre, and Jason Doherty, right, Mayo.

Down have given themselves a fighting chance of avoiding relegation, their first league points of the season chiselled out of a tense tie at Pairc Esler last night.

Down have given themselves a fighting chance of avoiding relegation, their first league points of the season chiselled out of a tense tie at Pairc Esler last night.

Corner-forward Donal O'Hare was their match-winning hero with a magical nine-point tally, including the two late scores that finally killed off Mayo's stubborn challenge.

Mayo played into the gusting wind, but led by 0-4 to 0-2 at the end of the opening quarter. With a little more courage and confidence, they could have had a couple of goals, Jason Doherty and Michael Conroy both opting to fist the ball over the bar when sent clear.

Cathal Carolan was also on target as the westerners exposed gaps in a Down defence that has taken heavy flak, following three reversals in their last three outings.

But the Ulster men displayed adventure and poise when going forward. They were level by the 22nd minute when O'Hare clipped over his third free of the evening.

And while Ger Cafferkey was just about edging his battle with Benny Coulter, the former All Star did create enough trouble to enable the home side to push two points clear.

His flick sent Conor Laverty in to score, before wing-back Ryan Mallon pushed forward to get on the end of a well-constructed move and sweep over a point, sending the Mourne men in with a 0-6 to 0-4 advantage. Two more O'Hare efforts and a Mark Poland point opened out a five-point lead, but Down continued to live dangerously at the back, and needed a superb save from 'keeper Brendan McVeigh to deny Barry Moran as he ran on to a Lee Keegan pass.

Moran was the architect of another Mayo flourish, his midfield efforts cajoling his colleagues into a spell of sustained pressure.

He powered over a point before the impressive Carolan registered his fourth, leaving it a two-point game going into the final quarter.

A match that had threatened to slip away from them was now firmly in Mayo's control as Jason Doherty brought them level in the 57th minute with his side's fifth point in a row.

Down, having gone 19 minutes without a score, turned again to the place-kicking expertise of O'Hare, who thumped two more between the uprights, including a gem from the sideline.

But back came Mayo, going level with a '45' from goalkeeper Kenneth O'Malley, before O'Hare steered over the winning free in the final minute.

Scorers – Down: D O'Hare 0-9 (7f), M Poland, P McComiskey, C Laverty, R Mallon 0-1 each. Mayo: J Doherty 0-4 (3f), C Carolan 0-3, K McLoughlin (f), B Moran, M Conroy, K O'Malley ('45') 0-1 each.

Down: B McVeigh; D McCartan, B McArdle, R Boyle; R Mallon, A Carr, K Quinn; K King, K McKernan; C Laverty, M Poland, P McComiskey; D O'Hare, C Harrison, B Coulter. Subs: Darren O'Hagan for Mallon (44), J Johnston for Quinn (53), O McCartan for Harrison (61), C Gough for King (61).

Mayo: K O'Malley; C Barrett, G Cafferkey, K Higgins; L Keegan, D Vaughan, C Boyle; B Moran, A O'Shea; K McLoughlin, R Feeney, C Carolan; E Varley, J Doherty, M Conroy. Subs: K Keane for cafferkey (35), T Cunniffe for Feeney (42), A Freeman for Vaughen (53), E Regan for Varley (63).

Referee: D Coldrick (Meath).

Irish Independent

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