Mayo 0-11 Down 1-13
Down ended Mayo’s winning run in Division 1 with a determined display in Castlebar this afternoon.
Andy Moran pointed the hosts ahead after just 12 seconds, but Conor Maginn’s fisted goal helped the Mourne men take a 1-7 to 0-6 interval lead.
Aidan O’Shea’s dismissal after just nine minutes left Mayo shorthanded and despite some fine scoring from Conor Mortimer, they were unable to close the gap.
Late points from Aidan Carr and Danny Hughes clinched it for Down, who are now up to fifth in the table with Mayo, who have a game in hand, lying fourth.
There was a late change of goalkeeper for Mayo with Robert Hennelly taking over between the posts from David Clarke.
Down, after recent defeats to Cork and Kerry, freshened up their starting line-up with Ambrose Rogers, Aidan Carr and Niall McParland all returning.
Straight from the throw-in, the Connacht champions collected their first point with captain Andy Moran finding his range.
Carr and Mortimer exchanged frees before Mayo midfielder O’Shea was given a straight red card by referee Barry Cassidy for flooring Hughes with a strong challenge.
Many in the crowd regarded it as a harsh decision, but the match officials felt he led with his elbow and Mayo had to play on with 14 men.
Rogers briefly levelled for the visitors and Mortimer replied with another well-struck free, and then Down struck for their goal and a 1-2 to 0-3 lead.
Conor Laverty did the ground work as a high ball was played in for Maginn to knock it home past the advancing Hennelly.
Alan Dillon and Mortimer, with his third successful free, got James Horan’s men back on terms at 0-5 to 1-2, only for late inclusion Arthur McConville to tee up a Maginn point and then Carr popped over a free.
Dillon was fouled for a free that Mortimer pointed, but that proved to be Mayo’s final score of the first half.
Rogers converted a ‘45’ as two minutes of injury-time were signalled for, and James McCartan’s side added two more points through the hard-working Carr.
Armed with a four-point lead and a numerical advantage, Down were in a strong position but Mayo turned around with the wind at their backs and a clear determination to hold onto their unbeaten record.
The early signs were promising for the westerners when play resumed. They reduced the arrears to 1-8 to 0-8 with Mortimer and Dillon responding to Carr’s opener from play.
Hughes added to Down’s tally as the wily Benny Coulter was sprung from the bench to make his 69th league appearance.
Mortimer, with his sixth of the day, and Alan Freeman both landed frees to make it 1-9 to 0-10, yet Coulter was able to steady the ship for Down with two quick-fire scores.
There was still just a goal between the sides when Freeman raised his second white flag, but Mayo’s poor shooting let them down when it mattered most.
Down showed the greater composure in front of the posts and clinically ended the game as a contest with Kevin Duffin, Carr and Hughes pushing the winning margin out to five points.