Alan Freeman leads Mayo to win over Kerry

Kingdom yet to win in league this season, Tyrone strike late in Newbridge

Mayho’s Alan Freeman celebrates scoring a free at MacHale Park in Castlebar. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Mayho’s Alan Freeman celebrates scoring a free at MacHale Park in Castlebar. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Sun, Mar 2, 2014, 17:05

Mayo, with full-forward Alan Freeman putting in a man-of-the-match performance, finally rediscovered their winning ways to open their account in Division One of the Allianz Football League with a hard-fought 2-15 to 1-13 win over winless Kerry at MacHale Park in Castlebar.

On a dramatic day’s action in the top flight, Tyrone – again demonstrating their never-say-die attitude – turned pickpockets with two goals in injury time to stun Kildare in Newbridge, while Derry continued their strong start on their return to Division One with a comfortable win over Westmeath in Celtic Park.

The Mayo-Kerry game was an evenly-contested dogfight for much of the game, only for the home side – with a wind in their favour in the second half and utilising a strong substitutes bench to good effect – to pull clear, with Kerry held scoreless for the final 20 minutes as Mayo reeled off six unanswered points to claim their first win of the campaign.

Freeman gave full-back Mark Griffin a torrid afternoon, the Kerryman’s misery compounded by a late black card. That was Kerry’s second of the game, forward Shane Enright having departed early in the second-half.

With only 30 seconds on the clock, Freeman took a pass from the impressive Jason Doherty and, although failing to connect fully with his effort, managed to squeeze the ball beyond Kerry goalkeeper Brendan Kealy’s reach.

To their credit, Kerry responded well to that early setback and held a one-point lead as the first half moved into injury time only for Mayo to pounce. Lee Keegan, who had a fine game with numerous incisive runs from his wing-back position, broke through the Kerry defence defence and passed to Shane McHale who, in turn, found Doherty. His low and hard shot to the net gave Mayo a 2-7 to 0-11 interval lead.

Kerry’s response after the break was immediate, with Stephen O’Brien – who consistently took the game to the opposition – firing home his side’s goal. O’Brien got the ball with his back to goal but turned his marker Ger Cafferkey and blasted past Mayo goalkeeper Robbie Hennelly to move the Kingdom 1-12 to 2-7 ahead.

Thereafter, scores were hard to find for the visitors and, instead, Mayo upped the tempo with Freeman to the fore in inspiring the win. With a visit away to Westmeath next up for Mayo, the win will give them hope they can yet make a charge for the league title.

Kerry, meanwhile, find themselves in a relegation battle for the second successive year. With three defeats from three and the black cloud of Colm Cooper’s long-term injury hanging over them, the challenge only gets tougher with Tyrone next on the list for Eamonn Fitzmaurice’s men.

Tyrone stole the points in Newbridge, fashioning a late, late show for a 3-16 to 1-21 scoreline that left Kildare stunned.

Kildare had a dream start with seven unanswered points but were given a reminder of Tyrone’s ability to grab goals when Emmet McKenna scored a one just before the break. Kildare led 0-13 to 1-9 at half-time.

When Tomás O’Connor netted for the Lilywhites in the early stage of the second half, it put them in a strong position to finish out and Jason Ryan’s side held a five-point lead heading into injury time before Tyrone twice struck at the death, firstly with a second goal from McKenna and then, almost immediately, a winning goal from Conor McAliskey.

Derry struck for two quick goals in the opening minutes to take a grip on their encounter with Westmeath. Caolan O’Boyle and Barry Heron claimed Derry’s goals as the home side claimed a 2-7 to 0-6 lead at the interval. They almost had a third on the stroke of the half-time whistle when Kevin Johnson fired narrowly wide. Emmet McGuckin claimed Derry’s third goal in recording a 3-16 to 0-12 win over a Westmeath side still waiting for their first league points of the campaign.

In the big Division Two match, Donegal proved too strong for Ulster champions Monaghan. With goals from Odhran MacNiallais and Dermot Molloy, they claimed a 2-11 to 0-10 win.

Division One

Tyrone 3-16, Kilade 1-21

Mayo 2-15 Kerry 1-13

Derry 3-16 Westmeath

Division Two

Dongeal 2-11 Monaghan 0-10

Division Three

Roscommon 1-21 Limerick 0-13

Cavan 0-13 Wexford 0-6

Longford 1-15 Fermanagh 2-11

Sligo 0-18 Offaly 1-12

Division Four

Antrim 1-17 Roscommon 0-6

Clare 2-13 Wicklow 1-8

Tipperary 1-19 London 1-7

Leitrim 1-17 Carlow 1-8

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