Mayo 0-12 Monaghan 1-11
Conor McManus landed an audacious injury-time point from the left corner to secure Monaghan a two-point win over Mayo before a crowd of over 12,000 at MacHale Park, Castlebar.
Mayo had the chance to level the game before McManus stepped up to seal a crucial win against the All-Ireland finalists - who were short a number of key players for this Division One National League opener. Yet it was the game's only goal from man of the match Darren Hughes, created by McManus, which proved the defining moment.
It was a fully deserved win for the visitors who kicked 14 wides and were reduced to 14 men after Karol O’Connell was sent off after picking up his second yellow card 13 minutes from the end of normal time.
Monaghan led by four points after 20 minutes (0-5 to 0-1), but Mayo gradually reeled them back in to trail by the minimum at half-time - 0-6 to 0-5. A superb free from distance by Evan Regan giving Mayo a boost with the final score of the half.
It was Monaghan who looked the stronger side in that opening period with a solid defensive performance keeping Mayo to a single point from play. That coming via Fergal Boland, one of two Mayo debutantes.
Malachy O'Rourke's team though did the damage down the other end after the break. Hughes' goal came after some superb fielding by McManus who then set up his midfielder to squeeze the ball under the body of David Clarke. The All Star goalkeeper came to the rescue of Mayo on three other occasions however on a day where Monaghan certainly deserved their victory. Although they have McManus to thank as they very nearly came away without it.
MAYO: D Clarke; D Newcombe, K Higgins, P Durcan; C Boyle, S Coen, D Drake; D Vaughan, D Kirby; F Boland (0-1), K McLoughlin (0-1), J Doherty; E Regan (0-2, 1 f), A Freeman (0-1), C O'Connor (0-7, 5f).
Subs: D O'Connor Regan(44), T Parsons fo Kirby (50), A Moran for Freeman (51), C O'Shea for J Doherty (67).
MONAGHAN: R Beggan (0-1, 1f); F Kelly, D Wylie, R Wylie; K Dufffy, N McAdam, C Walsh (0-1); D Hughes (1-1), K Hughes; K O'Connell, S Carey, G Doogan (0-1); C McCarthy, T Kerr (0-1), C McManus (0-6, 1 45' 3f).
Subs: G Malone for C McCarthy (h/t), B McEnespie for S Carey (50) O Duffy for T Kerry (55), J Mealiff for McAdam (67).
Referee: C Lane (Cork).