Saturday 17 August 2019

Mayo march on

Mayo’s Aidan O’Shea celebrates at the final whistle after his side’s victory over Donegal in the All-Ireland senior football Super 8 clash at Elvery’s MacHale Park last night. Photo: Sportsfile
Mayo’s Aidan O’Shea celebrates at the final whistle after his side’s victory over Donegal in the All-Ireland senior football Super 8 clash at Elvery’s MacHale Park last night. Photo: Sportsfile

Dermot Crowe

Mayo fought off a furious challenge from Donegal in Castlebar to qualify for the All-Ireland football semi-finals, with the Ulster champions making a heartbreaking exit from the championship.

Having lost their opening match in Killarney, James Horan's men got the win they needed to edge into the last four. They were joined by Kerry, who defeated Meath in Navan to top the group.

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"I thought the application and work-rate was superb right through," said Horan after Mayo's 1-14 to 1-10 win. "The turnovers we won in the first half and the tackles that guys put in, we didn't get the return we should have and that's always a concern.

"Going into the second half we knew Donegal were going to come at us and they did. I thought they got a soft free or two, and a penalty to get them into it, but we responded very well. Andy Moran, Kevin McLoughlin, Fergal Boland, James Durcan when they came on, I thought they were very strong for us and gave us an out-ball. We're delighted overall with the performance and the win."

Horan spoke of his team's "mental strength" when they were under pressure in the second half, before getting through 1-14 to 1-10, in a low-scoring match in difficult playing conditions.

Donegal will be disappointed after missing several good scoring chances.

"You can't afford to kick the wides we kicked in the second half and get a result at this level, and that's disappointing," said manager Declan Bonner.

"It is hugely disappointing. We have been scoring all season and they were decent chances - not just one or two. We missed four or five times . . . we had eight wides in the second half, which was disappointing."

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He added: "It is fairly raw at the minute and will be raw for a good number of weeks. But we will get a chance to sit down and look back at it. The lads will be bitterly disappointed because we just didn't perform, that is the bottom line and we are not going to make any excuses. We wish Mayo all the best in the All-Ireland semi-final."

Kerry led by just a point at half-time in Navan and Meath were still in contention at the hour mark before fading and losing 2-18 to 1-13. Sean O'Shea scored a brilliant second-half goal and finished on 1-8. Having topped Group 1, they will play on Sunday.

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