Mayo 2-21 Down 1-11
Mayo’s young guns were too pacey and powerful for visitors Down as last year’s All-Ireland finalists kicked off their 2021 campaign with a win at MacHale Park.
James Horan had to be pleased with the performance of his young team which included one debutant - Enda Hession from Garrymore who impressed at corner back- as they overpowered Down to take control of this contest by half-time. Leaving the last 15 minutes to play out more like a challenge game than a league encounter.
A Tommy Conroy goal was the key score of the opening half as Down stayed the early pace but Mayo hit them hard in two big scoring bursts to lead by 1-10 to 0-6 at the change of ends.
Cillian O’Connor fired Mayo into an early lead from a free but Down responded with a fine score from Daniel McGuinness. It was Mayo who kicked on with back to back points from Conroy and Michael Plunkett before Down enjoyed their best spell of the game as points from Corey Quinn and James Guinness had the game tied at 0-4 apiece on 13 minutes.
That was as good as it got for Down as Mayo struck with their opening goal from Conroy after 15 minutes. Matthew Ruane, who was a growing and commanding force around the middle of the field scored the first of his two points while full back Oisin Mullin, Diarmuid O'Connor, Ryan O'Donoghue and Jordan Flynn all hit target.
Mayo had the game very much tied up when they hit 1-1 inside five minutes of the restart, the goal coming from O’Donoghue who was set up the excellent Conroy.
Down did hit back with a goal of their won from substitute Stephen McConville in a second half which was hit by some torrential rain as both teams emptied their respective benches.
On this showing Mayo, who were without the injured Aidan O’Shea look poised for a quick return to Division 1 football.
MAYO: R Hennelly, E Hession, O Mullin (0-1), L Keegan, M Plunkett (0-1), P Durcan, R Brickenden, M Ruane (0-2), D O'Connor (0-1), F McDonagh (0-1), K McLoughlin, J Flynn (0-1), T Conroy (1-3), C O'Connor (0-8, 7 frees, 1 '45), R O' Donoghue (1-1).
Subs: E McLaughlin (0-1) for Brickenden (half-time), B Walsh (0-1) for Flynn (h-t), S Coen for K McLoughlin (48 mins) A Orme for O'Donoghue (48), C Loftus for F McDonagh (49), J McCormack for D O'Connor (62), C Boyle for Keegan (66).
DOWN: R Burns, G Collins, G McGovern, P Murdock, P Laverty (0-1), K McKernan, J Flynn, R McEvoy, C Mooney, C Doherty, C Poland, D McGuinness (0-1), B O'Hagan (0-5, 4 frees), J Guinness (0-1), C Quinn (0-3, 1 free, 1 mark).
Subs: L Kerr for Doherty (33), O McCabe for Poland (40). L Middleton for McEvoy (49), S McConville (1-0) for D McGuinness (50), B McCardle for Murdock (65), D O Hagan for Collins (66).
Referee: F Kelly (Longford).