At the third attempt Mayo secured their first league win under new boss Kevin McStay before a crowd of 15,726.
ven though Mayo had won five out of their last ten league clashes against Kerry this was their first victory in Castlebar since 2014, but it will be long remembered as they demolished the All-Ireland champions in the first half. Their seven-point win didn’t do their superiority justice.
Goals from Ryan O’Donoghue and James Carr gave Mayo an unassailable 11-point advantage at the break and although Kerry did outscore Mayo in the second half by 1-7 to 0-6, it didn’t impact on the result. Kerry’s failure to deal with the threat of Mayo target man Aidan O’Shea cost them dearly.
After squandering a couple of early chances Mayo hit a purple patch between the sixth and eighth minute hitting 1-2 without reply. A brace of converted frees from Ryan O’Donoghue and a monster effort from James Carr was followed by an O’Donoghue goal.
The Belmullet native had a lot of work to do after he robbed Warren, but he held his nerve before poking the ball past Murphy with an unorthodox right-footed kick.
Kerry finally opened their account with a tenth minute free from Darragh Roche but the home side definitely had the edge as Kerry’s finishing was wayward as they squandered seven chances in the opening twenty minutes.
By then Mayo were firmly in control after hitting Kerry for 1-1 in ninety seconds. Firstly, a route one ball broke kindly to Jordan Flynn who had a chance to hit it first time but hesitated and was fouled by Kerry’s Diarmuid O’Connor.
O’Donoghue tapped over the free and Kerry again messed up the re-start. Jason Foley’s misdirected kick pass was intercepted by O’Connor who linked up with James Carr to squeeze the ball past Shane Murphy at his near post.
Mayo tagged on another four points with just a single reply from Kerry – the visitors’ difficulties were underlined by the fact that they scored just two points from play in the first half and converted only three of their 12 chances.
So, after their best half of football for a long time Mayo led 2-8 to 0-3 at the break. Predictably, Kerry introduced Seán O’Shea and David Clifford at the break with Dylan Casey also being coming on to shadow Aidan O’Shea.
Clifford did point for Kerry with his first touch – and also got booked – but Mayo remained in control. The scoring rate dropped which suited Mayo. Kerry’s difficulties were highlighted in the 20th minute when O’Shea hit a straightforward 20m free off the upright.
Mayo introduced Cillian O’Connor and he earned a booking soon after his introduction, but the visitors finally got some traction with three points on the spin from O’Shea and Clifford (2). But it was still a nine-point game with 15 minutes of normal time remaining.
A pointed 45 from Mayo goalkeeper Colm Reape – his second of the half – was the home side’s first score for 18 minutes. Their scoring rate did improve late on, but this was overshadowed by a late burst from Kerry which yielded a neat goal from Barry O’Sullivan. It didn’t impact on the outcome. For once the Mayo fans were not made sweat for a win over the Kingdom.
Scorers: Mayo: R O’Donoghue 1-3 (2f, 1m), J Carr 1-2 (1f), J Flynn 0-4, C Reape 0-2 (2 45’s), D McHugh, J Carney 0-1, D O’Connor 0-1 each.
Kerry: B O’Sullivan 1-0, D Clifford 0-3, D Roche (1f), S O’Shea (1f) 0-2 each, D O’Connor, T Brosnan, P Murphy 0-1 each.
Mayo: C Reape 7; D McBrien 7, R Brickenden 8, D McHugh 7; C Loftus 7, E Hession 8, S Coen 8; M Ruane 7, D O’Connor 8, F McDonagh 7, J Carney 7, J Flynn 9, A O’Shea 9, J Carr 8, R O’Donoghue 8 Subs: B Touhy 6 for O’Connor (35+1), C O’Connor 5 for McDonagh (51), J Coyne 5 for Brickenden (51), C McStay for Carr (62), P Durcan for Coen (63).
Kerry: S Murphy 5; G O’Sullivan 6 J Foley 5, T O’Sullivan 6; P Warren 4, T Morley 6, P Murphy 6; J Barry 6, B O’Sullivan 6; D Moynihan 5, P Clifford 5, M Burns 6; T Brosnan 6, D Roche 7, D O’Sullivan 5. Subs: S O’Shea 6 for Burns (ht); D Clifford 7 for D O’Sullivan (ht); D Casey 7 for Warren (ht), S Okunbor 6 for Roche (52), K Spillane for P Clifford (62).
Referee: Seán Hurson (Tyrone).
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