Braniff helps douse Mayo fire
Down 0-19 Mayo 0-17
Mayo gave Down a bit of a scare in this well-contested first-round clash at McHale Park on Saturday.
Leading by 0-11 to 0-7 at the interval, Down looked to have the measure of their opponents but a strong opening 20 minutes of the second half saw Mayo hit the front for the first time in the match.
Kenny Feeney, who nailed 11 points for his team, hit three early second-half frees to pull Mayo within a point before a Paul Braniff free and a fine effort from Conor Mageann restored a three-point lead for Down.
Mayo refused to panic and a mazy 40-yard run from Keith Higgins produced a stunning point to rekindle their hopes. Further scores from Darren McTighe, another Feeney free and then the lead point from Brian Hunt hinted at an upset.
However, the favourites were not panicked into submission. A superb '65' from Braniff levelled matters for the second time before points from Mageann, substitute Michael Turley and a fine long-range effort from Branniff restored a three-point lead. This left Mayo searching for a goal which never came.
Man of the Match: P Braniff (Down)
SCORERS -- Down: P Braniff 0-8 (7f, 1 '65), P Sheehan 0-3, D Toner, A O'Prey, C Mageann 0-2 each, M Ennis, M Turley 0-1 each. Mayo: K Feeney 0-11 (10f), D McTighe 0-2, B Hunt, K Higgins, P Connell, C Freeman 0-1 each.
DOWN -- S Keith; J Smyth, M Hughes, S Ennis; F Conway, C Woods, M Cunningham; A Savage, M Ennis; P Sheehan, P Brannif, A O'Prey; D Toner, D Hughes, C Mageann. Subs: M Turley for D Hughes (60), E Early for A O'Prey (68).
MAY0 -- D O'Brien; S Morley, A Connolly, A Brennan; G Henry, D McConn, F Lyons; K Higgins, P O'Grady; C Freeman, D McDonnell, B Hunt; D McTighe, K Feeney, C Charlton. Subs: P Connell for G Henry (30), P O'Flynn for P O'Grady (34),S Hoban for C Freeman (55), S Markham for C Charlton (60).
ReF -- S Hourigan (Limerick).