Wednesday 13 December 2017

Mayo saved by late Conor Loftus goal before pummeling Derry in extra-time

Mayo 2-21 Derry 1-13

Conor Loftus of Mayo celebrates after scoring his side's first goal during the GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship Round 2A match between Mayo and Derry at Elverys MacHale Park, in Castlebar, Co Mayo. Photo by David Maher/Sportsfile
Conor Loftus of Mayo celebrates after scoring his side's first goal during the GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship Round 2A match between Mayo and Derry at Elverys MacHale Park, in Castlebar, Co Mayo. Photo by David Maher/Sportsfile

Sean McGoldrick at ELVERYS MacHale Park

Last year’s beaten All-Ireland finalists Mayo survived a huge scare at home in Castlebar on Saturday before securing a place in Sunday's third round qualifying draw when they beat Derry – but only after extra time.

The home side struggled through normal time though a goal from substitute Conor Loftus looked to have secured a win in the 69th minute, only for the visitors to reply to equalise through substitute Mark Lynch to send the contest to extra time.

Mayo dominated extra time scoring 1-9 with Derry only managing a point and their last chance of securing a famous win disappeared when James Kielt’s 77th minute penalty was saved by David Clarke.

Right from the start, Derry belied their underdog status as they ran at the Mayo defence and three excellent points on the spin from Niall Loughlin, Benny Heron and Ryan Bell had the visitors 5-3 up after 17 minutes.

Mayo almost had a goal in the 19th minute when a dipping shot from Andy Moran was tipped off the post by McKinless before he brilliantly saved the rebound from O’Connor.

But at the other end Mayo had an equally fortunate escape when after David Clarke had saved well from Carlus McWilliams, the rebound ricochetted off the upright and dropped wide of the post.

Mayo were totally reliant on O’Connor’s placed balls to keep the scoreboard ticking over and a free from Niall Loughlin in the third minute of injury time gave Derry a deserved one point lead at the break (0-8; 0-7).

The poverty of Mayo’s efforts up front was reflected in the fact that they had managed just two points from play in the first half – Derry hit four - only one of the Mayo forwards, Andy Moran, scored from play.

But Derry suffered a bad blow just before the break when influential midfielder Conor McAtammey was black carded for a drag down foul on Tom Parsons.

Ryan Bell notched his third point from play immediately after the resumption. As the home fans began to get more agitated, Mayo responded with Lee Keegan leading the line and they managed to notch back to back points for the first time – from Moran and O’Connor (free) - to draw level by the 40th minute.

A monster point off the post from Danny Heavron had Derry in front again but they were riding their luck at the other end. Andy Moran rifled a shot off the upright and McKinless brilliantly saved O’Connor’s rebound.

The latter– whose free long range free-taking was wayward - did nail the resultant 45, but with 20 minutes left a Loughlin free at the other end restored the visitors’ slender lead.

Ben McKinless was rapidly emerging as the Derry hero and he saved another point blank shot from Andy Moran in the 56th minute. A free from substitute James Kielt left Derry two points clear with 10 minutes remaining.

The confidence was ebbing visibly from the Mayo side as the clock ticked relentlessly towards full time.

But there was more drama in the closing five minutes than in the preceding 65, Patrick Durcan kicked Mayo’s fourth point from play; Chrissy McKaigue missed a chance at the other end but there were several more twists before the end.

Mayo’s best move of the game involving Seamus O’Shea, Cillian O’Connor and substitute Conor Loftus culminated in the latter blasting the ball into the net in the 69th minute, and when he added a point immediately afterwards they looked safe.

But Derry went straight down the field and substitute Mark Lynch punched a Carlus McWilliams cross to the net to level the game at 1`-12 each.

Mayo had two decent chances in the six minutes of injury time played to win it – but a shot from O’Connor rebounded off the upright while a long range effort from Seamus O’Shea drifted wide at the death. It was their 17th wide of the evening and soon afterwards referee Maurice Deegan signalled the end of normal time.

Mayo dominated the first-half of extra time hitting 1-2 without reply – the goal came from substitute Jason Doherty after McKinless miscued a short kick out - but the keeper redeemed himself soon afterwards when he made his fourth outstanding save of the game to deny Cillian O’Connor.

Derry missed a chance to get back into the contest when Kevin McLoughlin upended Shane McGuigan in the Mayo penalty area, but David Clarke comfortably saved James Kielt's poorly struck effort from the spot.

Mayo added two more points but they lost Patrick Durcan to a straight red card at the end of the first period of extra time – but were in control leading 2-17 to 1-13. Mayo added six more points in the second half of extra time but Lee Keegan was forced off with injury while Cillian O’Connor was the game’s top scorer with 0-12 and Mayo won extra time 1-9 to 0-1. Maybe what happened in extra time when they outscored Derry 1-9 to 0-1 will finally kick start their season.

Derry: B McKinless; N Keenan, B Rogers, K McKaigue; C McFaul, C McKaigue, C McWilliams; C McAtamney, D Heavron (0-1); R Bell (0-3), N Loughlin (0-6, 5f) E Lynn; D Tallon; M McEvoy, B Heron (0-1). Subs: E McGuckin for McAtamney BC 35+3m; M Lynch (1-1) for Tallon 47m; J Kielt (0-1, 1f) for Bell 58m; S McGuigan for Lynn 67m, C Neville for McEvoy 70 +5m. ET N Forrester for McFaul 75m; G O’Neill for Loughlin 85m; C O’Doherty for Heron 87m

Mayo: D Clarke; B Harrison, G Cafferkey, C Barrett; K Keegan (0-1), C Boyle, P Durcan (0-1); A O’Shea (0-1), T Parsons; F Boland, K McLoughlin (0-1), D Vaughan, S Coen, C O’Connor (0-12, 9f, 1 45), A Moran (0-2). Subs: D O’Connor (0-1) for Boland ht; S O’Shea for Vaughan 55m; J Doherty (1-1) for Coen 55m; C Loftus (1-1) for Moran 63m; D Drake for Harrison 63m. ET C Crowe for Barrett 82m; S Nally for Keegan 85m, D Kirby for McLoughlin 87m

Referee: Maurice Deegan (Laois)

The official attendance was 11,465.

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