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Shadow boxing fools nobody as semi-final rematch looms

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Mayo's Alan Freeman takes on Derry duo Conor McAtamney and Niall Holly during their game in Castlebar

Mayo's Alan Freeman takes on Derry duo Conor McAtamney and Niall Holly during their game in Castlebar

Mayo's Jason Doherty is challenged by Derry's Charlie Kielt

Mayo's Jason Doherty is challenged by Derry's Charlie Kielt

Derry's Oisin Duffy in action against Mayo's Darren Coen

Derry's Oisin Duffy in action against Mayo's Darren Coen

Mayo's Alan Freeman is brought down by Derry goalkeeper Eoin McNicholl for a penalty

Mayo's Alan Freeman is brought down by Derry goalkeeper Eoin McNicholl for a penalty

Derry's Carlus McWilliams is closed down by Mayo's Andy Moran

Derry's Carlus McWilliams is closed down by Mayo's Andy Moran

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Mayo's Alan Freeman takes on Derry duo Conor McAtamney and Niall Holly during their game in Castlebar

What either team can learn from this encounter at MacHale Park is questionable.

For the record Mayo took the win thanks largely to Alan Freeman's two second-half goals, but neither team revealed too much ahead of next weekend's rematch in the semi-finals.

Derry manager Brian McIver made 14 changes to his starting line-up from the side that defeated Kildare, and the sole survivor, Emmett McGuckin, lined out at midfield for the most part. Their powder was kept well dry.

Mayo also chose to rest a number of frontliners – Aidan O'Shea, Jason Gibbons, Lee Keegan and Kevin McLoughlin didn't start – while the manager's bag of tricks was kept well and truly under wraps. Ignore this game for guidance as to next week's victors.

McIver said he wasn't concerned about the number of changes he made, insisting that concealing his game plan from Mayo had not been his motivation.

"That wasn't something we considered. We wanted to see how these lads were going to perform. If you don't give these lads the opportunity, how do you know how they're going to perform?" said the Derry manager.

"So that was never up for question that we were going to try these lads, we had every faith that they were going to perform and that's what they did today.

"Who we were going to be playing at a later stage down the line never came into the equation.

"Yeah I'm happy surely, it means that when we are going into the Mayo game next weekend, we know we have great options to look at."

Mayo totally dominated the first half, but they were well assisted by the Derry attack, who had kicked eight wides by the 20th minute and trailed 0-8 to 0-1 at the break.

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But despite their superiority Mayo didn't punish their opponents sufficiently, as Andy Moran missed an early goal chance, while sloppy finishing late in the half from Freeman and Darren Coen restricted the home side's lead to just seven points at the interval.

Manager James Horan was vexed at the lethargy his side showed at times and insisted that they will need to drastically improve to beat the first-choice Derry side next weekend.

"We dropped our tempo, it's as simple as that. And that's something you're always fighting against when you're in the big league or on the games that you're so comfortable in," said Horan.

"Derry dominated for about 10 or 12 minutes and came close, so we had to shake ourselves and I'm thankful we did. It won't be the same again (next weekend), it will be a very different Derry team I'd say.

"We go through today but we were very poor and we let our standards and tempo drop, so we have a huge amount of stuff to try and pick up on this week," added the Mayo manager, who saw Cillian O'Connor limp off early on with a "muscle spasm".

A fine start to the game saw Mayo lead 0-5 to 0-0 after 18 minutes, and while Aidan McAlynn finally got Derry on the board in the 21st minute, the home side cruised through the first half.

Freeman's first goal proved the real turning point of the game. At one end of the field Emmett McGuckin hit the crossbar with a punched effort, and after a brisk counter-attack, Freeman was hauled down for a penalty by Conor McAtamney.

Referee David Coldrick didn't show a second yellow card to the Derry defender, but Freeman inflicted the punishment with a sweet stroke to the top corner.

After McGuckin rattled the Mayo net in the 52nd minute – the 14th goal they've conceded in the campaign – the deficit was down to three and the comeback looked on, but Freeman showed great composure to hit the winner six minutes later.

It was easy for Mayo, but Derry hardly showed their wares.

Scorers – Mayo: A Freeman 2-6 (3fs, 1-0 pen, 1 '45'), M Sweeney 0-2, T Parsons, D Coen, A Moran, D Vaughan 0-1 each. Derry: E McGuckian 1-1, A McAlynn 0-2, A Kerrigan (1f), C Kielt, N McFeely, E Bradley 0-1 each.

Mayo – R Hennelly 6; T Cunniffee 7, G Cafferkey 7, K Keane 7; S McHale 6, C Boyle 6, D Vaughan 7 ; T Parsons 8, S O'Shea 7; J Doherty 6, A Moran 7, K Higgins 6; C O'Connor 5, A Freeman 9, M Sweeney 8. Subs: D Coen 7 for O'Connor (9), R Feeney 6 for Higgins (h-t), B Moran 6 for Doherty (48), M Conroy 6 for Sweeney (48), D O'Connor 6 for Parsons (63), L Keegan for Boyle (70).

Derry – E McNicholl 7; O Duffy 6, C McAtamney 6, K McKaigue 7; C Kielt 8, M Craig 7, A McAlynn 8; E McGuckian 9, N Holly 8; A Devlin 7, D Heavron 7, C McWilliams 6; J Kearney 6, D Mullan 6, C McGoldrick 6 . Subs: E Bradley 7 for McGoldrick (h-t), A Kerrigan 7 for Mullan (46), K Conway 7 for Devlin (52), N McFeely 7 for Heavron (61) P Cassidy 6 for Kearney (68), N McNicholl for McGuckian (69).

Ref – D Coldrick (Meath).


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