Mayo 1-19 Down 1-16
By Mike Finnerty
Late points from Andy Moran and Evan Regan sealed a dramatic Mayo victory that proved just enough to keep the Connacht champions in Division 1 next season.
But Down — who already been relegated after losing all of their first six games — made the Westerners fight every step of the way in front of 8,352 fans at MacHale Park, Castlebar.
Mayo produced another erratic performance on their way to recording their third victory of an inconsistent campaign.
Man of the match Evan Regan weighed in with nine points (including seven frees) while Cillian O’Connor marked his first start of the year by shooting 1-4 from placed balls.
O’Connor’s goal from a penalty on 19 minutes helped Mayo to lead at half-time by 1-9 to 0-10.
Down had stayed in touch through a combination of Mayo’s lacklustre performance, their own ingenuity, and the assured free-taking of Donal O’Hare.
Stephen Rochford reorganised his Mayo troops at the interval and a strong third quarter saw the homeside tag on seven points to ease ahead by 1-16 to 0-12.
At that stage the game looked over as a contest but Down rallied impressively and hit 1-3 down the home stretch, the goal brilliantly finished by Donal O’Hare.
That left Mayo clinging to a one point lead on 67 minutes, but they managed to scramble over the finish line.
Mayo: D Clarke; B Harrison, K Keane, C Barrett (0-1); L Keegan, C Boyle, S Nally; T Parsons, S O’Shea; C O’Shea, A O’Shea (0-1), J Doherty (0-1); E Regan (0-9, 7fs), A Freeman (0-2), C O’Connor 1-4, 1-0pen, 4fs).
Subs used: P Durcan for Barrett (27); A Dillon for Freeman (55); B Moran for S O’Shea (55); C Carolan for C O’Shea; A Moran (0-1) for C O’Connor (65).
Down: M Cunningham (0-2, 2fs); G Collins, G McGovern, D O’Hagan; D McKibbin (0-1), A Carr, D O’Hanlon (0-1); P Turley (0-1), H Brown; M Poland (0-1), K McKernan (0-1), R Mallon (0-1); C McGovern, D O’Hare (1-5,5fs), S Dornan (0-2).
Subs used: P Devlin (0-1) for Mallon (40); C Maginn for Brown (43); D Turley for O’Hanlon (53); B O’Hagan for Poland,(62); J Murphy for Carr (71).
Referee: J McQuillan (Cavan)