Thursday 15 November 2018

Champions Donegal stunned by Mayo rampage

Cillian O'Connor, Mayo, celebrates after scoring his side's first goal
Cillian O'Connor, Mayo, celebrates after scoring his side's first goal
Paddy McGrath, Donegal, in action against Andy Moran
Donal Vaughan, Mayo, celebrates after scoring his side's second goal
Alan Freeman, Mayo, celebrates a score
Donal Vaughan, Mayo, on his way to scoring his side's second goal despite the tackle of Donegal goalkeeper Paul Durcan
Michael Murphy, Donegal, in action against Keith Higgins
Jubilant Mayo fans Mairead Fahey, Stella Keane and Louise Courell at Croke Park
GAA fan Mary McNelis, age 88 with grandaughters Sorcha and Aoife with Jimmy Magee at Croke for the All Ireland quarter finals.
Minister Pat Rabbitte, a Mayo native at Croke Park for the All-Ireland quarter-finals.

Donegal surrendered their All-Ireland title tamely after being totally dismantled by James Horan's Mayo by 4-17 to 1-10 in one of the most complete performances of modern times.

It was the first time since 1950 that Donegal conceded four goals in a Championship game and the first time they conceded more than two in a championship game under Jim McGuinness.

Mayo were in complete control from the off and were playing at a pace and intensity which the All-Ireland champions were powerless to stop as they beat the reigning All-Ireland champions for the third year in a row.

With the O'Shea brothers, and in particular the juggernaut that is Aidan, bossing midfield, the platform was set for an awesome attacking display with Cillian O'Connor, Alan Freeman, Alan Dillon and Kevin McLoughlin in inspired form.

Donegal's sporadic attacks yielded little with Ger Cafferkey marshalling a watertight defence.

Cillian O'connor scored a hat-trick on a day when Mayo amazingly had 12 different scorers.

Donegal's Eamon McGee was sent-off for a stamp on Enda Varley in the second half in a very ugly incident  and man of the match Aidan O'Shea was also dismissed late on.

It was a hugely disappointing performance from Jim McGuinness' Donegal who looked extremely jaded throughout the 70 minutes.

There was drama before the throw-in with the news that Mark McHugh had recovered from a perforated ear-drum and a five centimetre tear to his quad muscle to start in place of David Walsh and Declan Walsh replaced Karl Lacey at centre-back.

Two-time Young Footballer of the Year Cillian O'Connor opened the scoring in the opening minute and Alan Dillon fired over a beauty on the outside of his right foot soon afterwards.

Kevin McLoughlin slipped in O'Connor after great pressure from the Mayo forwards and he coolly slotted past Paul Durcan.

Alan Freeman completed Mayo's blistering start with a fine solo score before Michael Murphy and Mark McHugh settled Donegal nerves to make it 1-3 to 0-2 after eight minutes.

Michael Murphy knocked over a free before Donegal, who had not conceded a goal in this year's Championship before today, leaked another.

Great vision from Keith Higgins saw him find Donal Vaughan who got the ball ahead of Paul Duran before finishing to an empty net.

Birthday boy Michael Murphy pulled a point back but it was cancelled out by Alan Dillon's second point from play, the first score of of an unanswered 2-9 for the Connacht champions.

There were a lot of late hits and niggly acts creeping into the game in a very physical encounter.

Karl Lacey came into the game after 23 minutes for Anthony Thompson.

Kevin McLoughlin's trusty left foot  and a superb score from a tight angle from Andy Moran put Mayo eight in front with 10 minutes to go to the interval.

Alan Freeman's second point from play extended the lead for James Horan's men.

Cillian O'Connor was denied a second goal when Mark McHugh blocked his goalbound shot off the line but O'Connor did kick the resulting 45.

Another O'Connor free was scored before Cathal Carolan burst through the Donegal defence but his shot hit the butt of the post and Kevin McLoughlin somehow missed the rebound.

Colm Boyle marauded forward to kick the final score of a remarkable opening half and Mayo led by 2-10 to 0-4 at the interval.

Seamus O'Shea got the first score of the second half, Mayo's eight different scorer of the game.

Mayo pounced for their third goal in the 40th minute when Donal Vaughan ghosted behind the Donegal defence and squared for Cillian O'Connor to score.

O'Connor added another free before he completed his hat-trick when Andy Moran's shot rebounded to him and he found the onion sack.

Sub David Walsh kicked Donegal's first point in 40 minutes to make it 4-12 to 0-5 with 20 minutes to go.

Points from subs Richie Feeney, Enda Varley and defender Chris Barrett got in on the act for Mayo before Kevin Keane and Mark McHugh swapped points.

Michael Murphy and Karl Lacey raised white flags before Lee Keegan responded with three minutes remaining.

Donegal had late goal chances but they were snuffed out by a miserly Mayo defence.

Two Michael Murphy free and a Colm McFadden goal were mere consolation scores for Donegal.

Aidan O'Shea was sent-off for a second bookable offence in injury time but Mayo ran out 16-point winners.

Irish Independent

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