Down 0-13 Mayo 0-11
Donal O’Hare inspired Down to their first win of the season today, his nine-point tally lifting the struggling Mourne men off the bottom of the Division One table.
Mayo, with just one win from their opening four games, have been drawn into the relegation dogfight, following their third defeat on the trot at Pairc Esler.
A tense, tight game went right to the wire, level with just a minute to play after Mayo goalkeeper Kenneth O’Malley had brought his side level from a ’45, but O’Hare’s place-kicking artistry ensured that the Mourne men would send their fans home happy.
Down, playing into the wind, made a confident start, going in front with an O’Hare free, but Mayo were level by the seventh minute, Jason Doherty taking advantage of a slip by marker Benny McArdle to go one-on-one with Brendan McVeigh.
But he opted not to test the ‘keeper, fisting the ball over the bar. Mayo had a second goal chance when Aidan O’Shea made a surging run through the middle, setting up Michael Conroy, but he too settled for a fisted point.
Paul McComiskey, dropping back as a sweeper, was on target for the home side, raiding along the right flank, but once again Doherty levelled, this time from a free.
By the end of the opening quarter, Mayo had built up a 0-4 to 0-2 lead, but Down staged a rally, putting together some tidy passages of play, their accurate passing creating the opportunities for O’Hare to convert a convert a couple of frees, levelling the scores on 22 minutes.
Benny Coulter, having a terrific battle with Ger Cafferkey, sent Conor Lavery through for the lead point with a delightful click, and wing back Ryan Mallon pushed up for a point to give the Mourne men a 0-6 to 0-4 interval lead.
O’Hare was on target twice more inside the opening two minutes of the second half, but Down needed a wonderful save from Brendan McVeigh to deny Barry Moran, sent clear by Lee Keegan.
Mark Poland’s point eased James McCartan’s side five clear, before Cathal Carolan ended a 26 minute scoreless spell with a Mayo point.
Two Doherty frees brought the sides level in the 57th minute as Barry Moran lifted his game in the middle of the park.
But O'Hare was in irresistible form, swinging over an inspirational free from the sideline to restore the Ulster side’s two points cushion.
The westerners were not finished yet, however, level again after goalkeeper Kenneth O’Malley stepped up to send a ’45 sailing between the posts.
Fittingly, man of the match O’Hare had the final say, edging his side back in front, before landing a majestic insurance point from play.
Down scorers: D O’Hare 0-7 (6f), M Poland, P McComiskey, C Laverty, R Mallon 0-1 each.
Mayo scorers: J Doherty 0-4 (3f), C Carolan 0-3, K McLoughlin (f), B Moran, M Conroy, K O’Malley (’45) 0-1 each.
Down: B McVeigh, D McCartan, B McArdle, R Boyle, R Mallon, A Carr, K Quinn, K King, K McKernan, C Laverty, M Poland, P McComiskey, D O’Hare, C Harrison, B Coulter.
Subs: Darren O’Hagan for Mallon (44), J Johnston for Quinn (53), O McCartan for Harrison (61), C Gough for King (61)
Mayo: K O’Malley, C Barrett, G Cafferkey, K Higgins, L Keegan, D Vaughan, C Boyle, B Moran, A O’Shea, K McLoughlin, R Feeney, C Carolan, E Varley, J Doherty, M Conroy.
Subs: K Keane for cafferkey (35), T Cunniffe for Feeney (42), A Freeman for Vaughen (53), E Regan for Varley (63)
Referee: D Coldrick (Meath).