Mayo take advantage of Monaghan misfortune to claim comeback win

Last-gasp save from Rory Byrne denies Monaghan sub Joel Wilson a match-winning goal

NFL Division One: Monaghan 1-14 Mayo 2-13

There may have been nothing of consequence at stake but that didn’t stop this game at St Tiernach’s Park in Clones ending in a welter of excitement.

Mayo rounded off a satisfactory campaign with a fourth victory, but Kevin McStay’s team needed a last-gasp save from Rory Byrne to deny Monaghan substitute Joel Wilson a match-winning goal.

The defending champions had played for more than 50 minutes with an extra man after Monaghan’s Andrew Woods was sent off in the 22nd minute.

But Mayo still had to come from behind in the last quarter before getting the better of Vinnie Corey’s stubborn home side, who had already been relegated.

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A goal from substitute Kevin Loughran propelled Monaghan ahead by 1-14 to 1-11 after 65 minutes and they looked set to pick up just their second victory of a disappointing campaign, even without the likes of Jack McCarron and Conor McManus.

But a string of second-half injuries meant that Monaghan were forced to play the closing stages with just 13 men, and Mayo finished with a flourish.

A goal from Matthew Ruane on 66 minutes levelled the game for the fourth and final time.

McStay’s experimental selection kept the pressure on in the closing stages and scores from Ryan O’Donoghue (free) and fit-again Pádraig O’Hora saw them emerge as winners.

A brilliant long-range point from the industrious Micheál Bannigan had left Monaghan ahead at half-time by 0-8 to 1-4.

Such a scenario had seemed unlikely after Mayo surged into a 1-3 to 0-3 lead on 13 minutes after a goal from Darren McHale was quickly followed by a neat point by Ruane.

But Mayo lost their way in the second quarter and were unable to make any impression on the scoreboard, bar a free from Aidan O’Shea in the 27th minute. In fact, Mayo only managed to register a single score from play in that opening half.

Monaghan’s response to the concession of McHale’s goal was impressive, especially considering that they also lost Woods to a red card in the 22nd minute after a high challenge on David McBrien.

Immediately after the goal, the home side rattled off three points without reply from Bannigan (two frees) and a well-taken mark by Ciarán McNulty to level the game for the second time after 19 minutes.

Then came Woods’s red card, but Monaghan responded to adversity by landing a couple of long-range efforts from Seán Jones and Bannigan to go in leading at the interval.

The home side padded that lead out after the restart with fine scores from Jones and David Garland (a mark) to go three points ahead, and they kept Mayo at arm’s length until the final five minutes.

But the visitors finally made their numerical advantage count, and will now focus their attention on a Connacht championship quarter-final against New York in two weeks’ time.

MONAGHAN: D McDonnell; R Wylie, C Lennon, R O’Toole; K O’Connell (0-1), K Lavelle, C McCarthy; G Mohan (0-1, mark), D Hughes; C McNulty (0-1), M Bannigan (0-4, 0-2f), D Ward; A Woods, S Jones (0-2), J Irwin (0-2).

Subs: D Garland (0-2, 0-1f, 0-1 mark) for Ward, K Loughran (1-0) for Lavelle (both 33 mins); B McBennett (0-1) for Jones (47); C Leonard for Mohan (51); M McCarville for Leonard (55); J Wilson for Hughes (64).

MAYO: R Byrne; E O’Donoghue, R Brickenden, P O’Hora (0-1); S Callinan, J Coyne, S Coen; M Ruane (1-2), D McBrien; D McHale (1-1), E Hession, P Durcan; T Conroy, A O’Shea (0-1, f), R O’Donoghue (0-5, 0-5f).

Subs: M Plunkett for Callinan (23 mins); C O’Connor (0-2, 0-1f, 0-1 mark) for McBrien (h-t); F Boland (0-1) for Durcan, J Carr for E O’Donoghue (both 47); B Tuohy for O’Shea (60).

Referee: N Cullen (Fermanagh).