Mayo weather late rally from NUIG
Connacht champions forced to draft in Barry Moran and Alan Freeman to turn things around
Mayo’s Alan Freeman gets the ball away despite the attentions of Kevin McDonald and Lee Cullen of NUIG at McHale Park. Photograph: James Crombie / Inpho
Mayo 1-13 NUIG 1-11
A late rally from NUIG could not deny Mayo a first competitive win under the new management team of Pat Holmes and Noel Connelly in this first round Connacht league tie at McHale Park before a crowd of close to 3,000.
Mayo started with just three of the team that lost out to Kerry in the All-Ireland semi-final replay but were forced to draft in Barry Moran and Alan Freeman to turn things around in the second half.
NUIG were early into their stride and led by 1-7 to 0-8 at the interval thanks to a fine goal from their top scorer Peadar O’Griofa just before half-time, the Galway corner-forward punishing a mix-up in the Mayo defence and finishing clinically to the bottom corner.
Neil Douglas was the standout forward for Mayo in that half, with three points from play and he had a hand in the Mayo goal which came early in the second half as his high centre was gathered by Alan Freeman and transferred to Mark Ronaldson, who squeezed the ball over the line and fired Mayo into the lead.
But the students never gave up, despite Mayo going three ahead thanks to a fine score from inspirational defender Chris Barrett and a fourth from Douglas.
NUIG had two late goal chances to snatch it with O’Giofra denied by Robert Hennelly, while Damien Comer blazed inches wide before Adam Gallagher fired over a free in the fifth minute of injury time to seal a win for the Connacht champions and set them up for round two against IT Sligo in Ballina next Sunday.
MAYO: R Hennelly, D McHugh (0-1), G Cafferkey, S Coen, C Barrett (0-1), C Crowe, K Keane, J Gibbons, A Corduff, N Douglas (0-4), A Gallagher (0-1f), M Conroy (0-1), E Regan (0-3f), J Doherty (0-1), M Ronaldson (1-1).
Subs- A Freeman for J Doherty (BC ht), K Rogers for Cafferkey (ht), M Sweeney for M Conroy (ht), B Moran for Corduff (45), G Cafferkey for Douglas (inj, 51)
NUIG: D O’Sullivan, D Murray, K McDonald, L Cullen, R Kiely, D Cunnane, A Nolan, E O hEochaidh, S Moran (0-1), C Connolly, C Davey (0-1), D Comer (0-1), P O’Griofa (1-7f), S Conroy, K Gibbons (0-1f).
Subs- F Reilly for Nolan (10), J McManus for Nolan (ht), J Kennedy for Conroy (ht), N Lee for O hEochaidh (40). B Walsh for Murray (43), N Hickey for Gibbons (58).
Referee: R McBrien (Leitrim).