Fortunate goal turns the tide for Mayo against Tipperary

Mayo 1-19 Tipperary 1-11

Mayo enjoyed a 13th qualifier win and it was an oh-so-lucky goal which took them past Tipperary today.

Stephen Rochford’s charges, having lost Seamie O’Shea to injury and Colm Boyle to a black card in the opening half, were three behind midway through the half and most definitely on the ropes.

Their midfield was non-existent, allowing Bill Maher and Robbie Kiely tear through the centre at every opportunity. Their full-back line, meanwhile, found itself in all sorts of bother as Liam McGrath, Conor Sweeney and Michael Quinlivan asked questions each time a high ball was pumped in.

On 52 minutes, Mayo’s summer was kept alive by James Durcan’s point attempt, which dropped into the net.

Liam McGrath soon put the hosts back on an even keel, but from there to the finish, the winners outscored their opponents by 0-8 to 0-0. The goal, put simply, could not have come at a better time for Mayo, or a worse time for Tipperary.

It was the county’s eight consecutive qualifier win and puts them into the bowl for Monday morning’s third-round draw.

Mayo, through Jason Doherty and a Cillian O’Connor free, landed the opening two points of the second-half to draw level. It was a temporary reprieve as three in-a-row from Quinlivan, Sweeney and McGrath put the underdogs three in front, 1-10 to 0-10, for the first time.

A Jack Kennedy wide in the subsequent action was crucial as had they been successful in opening a four-point gap, it may have given them the necessary confidence to sink Mayo’s challenge.

As it was, James Durcan blazed a goal chance over the crossbar and on 52 minutes they were level, a speculative shot from Durcan looping over Evan Comerford and nestling in the Tipp net.

Thereafter, it was one-way traffic.

The landscape couldn’t have been more different at quarter to six, the Tipperary players disappearing back under the Kinnane Stand at half-time to a standing ovation from supporters clad in blue and gold. 1-7 to 0-8 they led.

Despite falling four points behind inside the opening six minutes and noticeably standing off their opponents, a Michael Quinlivan goal on nine minutes settled an up-to-then tetchy Tipperary side.

The goal also served to expose the outstanding flaw in the Mayo rearguard. When Mayo attacks repeatedly broke down, Tipperary carried the ball to halfway where they found a scantily populated Mayo half.

And as was the case for the goal, they more often than not opted to let the ball in high to either Michael Quinlivan or Conor Sweeney who had no one bar their marker to beat.

A Philip Austin point followed the goal and, all of a sudden, the hosts were in front. Kevin McLoughlin pegged one back for the 2016 and 2017 All-Ireland finalists, but a Liam McGrath free and a Sweeney minor, the latter stemming from yet another high ball, shoved Liam Kearns’ side 1-4 to 0-5 in front. All-Star ‘keeper David Clarke prevented a Michael Quinlivan goal not long after.

Seamie O’Shea was lost to a shoulder injury on 29 minutes and in injury-time, Colm Boyle received a black card for deliberately blocking the run of Robbie Kiely.

The latter had been the architect of their final score of the half, sending a long ball into Quinlivan who fetched possession above Paddy Durcan and curled an outrageous effort between the sticks.

In the end, there was to be no upset. Mayo march on.

Their journey continues.

Mayo scorers: J Durcan (1-2); C O’Connor (0-5, 0-5 frees); K McLoughlin (0-4); J Doherty (0-2); P Durcan, S O’Shea, L Keegan, A O’Shea, C Hanley, A Moran (0-1 each).

Tipperary scorers: M Quinlivan (1-2); L McGrath (0-4, 0-2 frees); C Sweeney, P Austin (0-2 each; J Kennedy (0-1).

Mayo: D Clarke; P Durcan, G Cafferkey, K Higgins; C Barrett, C Boyle, L Keegan; S Coen, S O’Shea; K McLoughlin, A O’Shea, J Doherty; J Durcan, C O’Connor, A Moran.

Subs: D O’Connor for O’Shea (29, inj); C Hanley for Boyle (HT, bc); E O’Donoghue for Barrett (56); C Loftus for Moran (69); D Kirby for D O’Connor (70)

Tipperary: E Comerford; S O’Connell, A Campbell, J Meagher; J Feehan, R Kiely, B Maher; S O’Brien, J Kennedy; J Keane, P Austin, L McGrath; C Sweeney, M Quinlivan, B Fox.

Subs: L Boland for Austin (59); L Casey for Kennedy (60); K O’Halloran for McGrath (65); K Fahey for Feehan (65); J Lonergan for Keane (68); G Hannigan for O’Brien (72).

Subs: M Deegan (Laois).

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