Down finally off the mark
Win over Mayo down to guts and character, according to manager James McCartan
Still, for large spells of the second half Mayo were the better side. Down struggled to cope with Cathal Carolan’s direct running while Moran and Aidan O’Shea continued to dominate at midfield.
Both Carolan and Moran blasted over close to goal to reduce the arrears and when James Doherty converted two frees in quick succession the sides were level.
Down became increasingly reliant on Donal O’Hare’s accuracy from the dead ball but it was a burden the full-forward was happy to carry and he slotted two long-distance frees over with consummate ease.
Mayo though, had momentum on their side and when Kevin McLoughlin and goalkeeper Kenneth O’Malley both scored from the dead ball it looked like the visiting team were more likely to be victorious.
Substitute Tom Cunniffe was guilty of conceding a needless free off the ball, presenting O’Hare with an easy chance to score his seventh free.
Seconds later, O’Hare scored his eighth point of the night and his first from play to give Down a two-point cushion allowing the Mourne men to see out the three additional minutes of injury time in relative comfort.
If Down were jubilant with the victory, Mayo manager James Horan was more concerned about the manner of his side’s loss.
“It’s the third game in a row that we’ve been in a position to win it with five minutes to go and we’ve come out the wrong side of it. That’s disappointing but we’re not far off. There’s no other option but to work through it.”
Down will travel to Kerry while Mayo will host Kildare next week in what will now be a defining weekend in Division One.
Down: B McVeigh; D McCartan, B McArdle, R Boyle; R Mallon (0-1), A Carr, K Quinn; K King, K McKernan; C Laverty (0-1), M Poland (0-1), P McComiskey (0-1); D O’Hare (0-8, 7f), C Harrison (0-1), B Coulter. Subs : D O’Hagan for R Mallon (44 mins), J Johnston for K Quinn (53), C Gough for K King (61), E McCartan for C Harrison (61).
Mayo: K O’Malley (0-1,45); C Barrett, G Cafferkey, K Higgins; L Keegan, D Vaughan, CBoyle; B Moran (0-1), A O’Shea; K McLoughlin (0-1), R Feeney, C Carolan (0-3); E Varley, J Doherty (0-4, 3f), M Conroy (0-1). Subs: K Keane for G Cafferkey (35 mins), T Cunniffe for R Feeney (43), A Freeman for D Vaughan (54), E Regan for E Varley (62).
Referee: David Coldrick (Meath)