IN MANY WAYS, this is the type of thing that Ardal McDermott wants to get away from in his tenure as manager of Donegal’s senior hurlers.
Mayo 1-14 Donegal 0-13
When McDermott took over from Ray Durack, something he mandated was to avoid the moral victories and to get more of the actual wins.
But at the same time, although disappointed to come up short, McDermott can draw some positives as Mayo got their Allianz NHL Division 2B off to a winning start following their hard fought victory at Elvery’s MacHale Park, Castlebar.
In a game that never reached any great heights, Mayo just about deserved their win over a spirited Donegal side who had to play the final 29 minutes with 14 players following the sending off of Christopher McDermott after he picked up a second yellow card.
Playing with the aid of a slight breeze Mayo dominated the early exchanges. However, they really didn’t make this dominance pay where it really mattered, on the scoreboard.
Yet by the end of the first quarter they held a five-point lead, 0-5 to 0-0, following scores from Cathal Freeman (two), Keith Higgins (two), and Kenny Feeney.
The game was 23 minutes old before Donegal – missing the hamstrung Danny Cullen – registered their opening score, a point from Ciaran Matthewson.
The visitors, who were unlucky with a goal chance in the 12th minute when a rasping shot from Paul Nelson came crashing back off thecrossbar, went on to close the gap with two more unanswered points, both from frees by Kevin Campbell.
But it was Mayo who finished the half the better as they at last found the range to rattle off five unanswered points, two from Feeney, and one each from Higgins, Eoghan Collins, and Joseph McManus, to lead by seven at the interval, 0-10 to 0-3.
On the resumption both sides missed early chances before Donegal were reduced to 14 players. However, a man down they began to come a lot more into the game and by ther 47th minute they had reduced the deficit to four points after Kevin Campbell, two frees, and Lee Henderson raised white flags.
But the crucial score of the half, and indeed the game, arrived two minutes later when Keith Higgins picked out Kenny Feeney with a delightful pass before the corner forward crashed home a great goal for the home side. When the same player added a point from a free 60 seconds later it looked all up for Donegal.
However, after Jack O’Loughlin and Sean Regan, Donegal came back strongly at Mayo. Four points on the trot from Matthewson (three) and one from Joe Boyle, left them just four in arrears with three minutes of normal time remaining. But as things turned out this was as close as they came as points from Higgins and Feeney settled the issue in Mayo’s favour, although Matthewson and Colm Flood did score late points for the visitors.
Mayo: Kenny Feeney (1-5, 4f), Keith Higgins (0-4, 1f), Cathal Freeman (0-2), Sean Regan (0-1), Joseph McManus (0-1), Eoghan Collins (0-1)
Donegal: Ciaran Matthewson (0-5, 3f 1 65’), Kevin Campbell (0-4, 4f), Lee Henderson (0-1), Jack O’Loughlin (0-1), Joe Boyle (0-1), Bernard Lafferty (0-1)
Mayo: Donal O’Brien; Shane Morley, Patrick Connell, Adrian Brennan; Austin Lyons, Gerard McManus, Kieran Kiely; Eoghan Collins, Ciaran Charlton; Cathal Freeman, Keith Higgins, Gary Nolan; Kenny Feeney, Sean Regan, Joseph McManus. Subs: Cory Scahill for Kieran Kiley (ht), Darren McTighe for Ciaran Charlton (50), Noel Casey for Austin Lyons (55), Shane Boland for Sean Regan (60), David Harrision for Keith Higgins (70)
Donegal: Paul Burns; Martin McGrath, Dara Grant, Pauric Doherty; Jack O’Loughlin, Joe Boyle, Christopher McDermott; Stephen Gillespie, Paul Sheridan; Lee Henderson, Sean McVeigh, Paul Nelson; Ciarán Matthewson, Ronan McDermott, Kevin Campbell. Subs: Bernard Lafferty for Lee Henderson (55), Sam Doherty for Paul Sheridan (60), Shane Gallen for Martin McGrath (63), Paddy Hannigan for Kevin Campbell (33)
Referee: Johnny Murphy (Limerick)