Positive start for eager Mayo
Eamonn Coleman's philosophical mood after the clearcut defeat by Mayo at the outset of his second coming as Derry manager was understandable in Charlestown yesterday. The Derry boss has already etched his name deep into his county's football lore by blueprinting the red and whites' only All-Ireland senior success five years ago.
Injuries and club commitments fairly diluted the Derry man's options. Only six of the side beaten by Galway in the All-Ireland semi-final were available. It was a factor not lost on Mayo boss John Maughan who was as pleased as the strongly supportive home following among the 5,000 crowd who braved wretched conditions. "It was a positive start for us. We played good football for 50 minutes," said Maughan.
Fortunately for Maughan's men Derry's control and authority over the early exchanges only served to highlight a serious lack of penetration that continued to spoil their afternoon. Derry had five wides of the gruesome kind which saw their early dominance wasted before Mayo got off the mark. Kieran McDonald soon stepped centre stage. Escaping the attentions of Johnny McBride he started the one-two move with John Casey down the left flank that ended with McDonald netting a goal of real quality.
It was a score designed to inspire and led to a procession of Mayo scores that sent the inexperienced Derry team reeling to a 1-7 to 0-2 interval deficit. "Even though we lost the match we scored more than they did in the second half," said Coleman clutching for modicums of comfort.
Derry created good chances in the second half but failed to capitalise. A bad mistake by Mayo goalkeeper Paul Kane allowed Paul Murphy in for an easy second-half goal. Then followed a catalogue of errors by the Derry attackers. Brian McCormack had Kane at his mercy after a McGonigle effort close in was blocked out. The Lavey man kicked an unbelievable wide. Minutes later Ronan Rocks' quick free found Benny Murray unmarked and with only the goalkeeper to beat. Again the shot was badly off target.
Longford referee Pat O'Toole made the most of the inaugural yellow-card day showing six. Mayo's Fergal Costello, David Heaney, Kieran McDonald and Maurice Sheridan along with Derry's Anthony Tohill and Geoffrey McGonigle received the penultimate sanction. Referee O'Toole also pulled up Mayo's David Brady and Derry's Brian McCormack for palmed passes.
James Nallen put in Trojan work as a roving wing forward, Pat Fallon had inspiring moments in midfield, and Maurice Sheridan who scored four points had a handy game in the left corner. Derry's Anthony Tohill put in some tremendous work in midfield as did the industrious McGonigle as an energetic corner forward. "Hopefully we can keep it going for the rest of the year," said Mayo's Kieran McDonald.
Mayo: P Kane, K Mortimer, K Cahill, P Holmes, F Costello, D Heaney, A Higgins, P Fallon (0-1), D Brady, J Nallen, L McHale, J Casey (0-1), D Quinn (0-1), K McDonald (1-3), M Sheridan (0-4, one free). Subs: D Nestor for Casey (52 mins), B Maloney for Quinn (54 mins).
Derry: O McCloskey, S Donnelly, J McBride, E McKeever, S McGuckian, G Coleman, R Boylan, A Tohill (0-1), G Doyle, P Murphy (1-0), B McCormack, D Dougan, G McGonigle (0-2, frees), R Rocks (0-1 free), E Gormley. Subs: B Murray for Boylan (half time), S McIvor for Gormley (45 mins).
Referee: P O'Toole (Longford).