A goal from Leo McLoone with 13 minutes left proved to be the decisive score as Donegal made it three wins from three in the Allianz League Division 1 today.
McLoone, who had only been introduced some six minutes beforehand, rounded off a flowing move in which Anthony Thompson, Christy Toye and Rory Kavanagh had been involved.
Donegal hadn’t led the contest until the 40th minute before Odhrán MacNiallas edged the hosts in front 0-10 to 0-9 as 11,000 watched on in the Ballybofey sunshine.
Mayo had never led by more than two points at that juncture and large parts of their performance would certainly have performance would’ve pleased Stephen Rochford.
With little between the two teams in an entertaining first half, the one kick of a ball that separated the teams came from an unlikely source, with corner-back Brendan Harrison dissecting the posts to give the Connacht champions an 0-8 to 0-7 interval lead.
Just after Donegal went in front for the first time, Mayo hit straight back when Derry referee Barry Cassidy awarded a penalty after Donegal goalkeeper fouled Evan Regan.
The hosts had claimed the ball was over the endline in the lead-up to the award but after a delay of close on five minutes, Diarmaid O’Connor - at the second attempt after the Mayo wing-forward went before the referee was ready - planted his kick in the bottom corner.
However, Donegal’s strong finish means they’ve maximum points and Mayo have still to pick up one.
DONEGAL: P Boyle; E McGee, N McGee, P McGrath, R McHugh 0-2, F McGlynn, E Doherty; R Kavanagh 0-1, H McFadden; M Carroll, M Murphy 0-5, 2f, 2 45, E McHugh; P McBrearty 0-4, 3f, M O’Reilly, O MacNiallais 0-2.
SUBS: M McElhinney for Carroll 19mins; A Thompson for Doherty HT, N Gallagher for McFadden 46, C Toye for Gallagher 48, L McLoone 1-0 for E McGee 51, C Ward, for M O’Reilly
MAYO: R Hennelly 0-2, 1f 1 45; B Harrison 0-1, G Cafferkey, K Higgins; L Keegan 0-1, C Boyle, M Hall; T Parsons, J Gibbons; K McLoughlin, A O’Shea 0-1, C O’Shea; S Nally 0-1, E Regan 0-4, 4f, D O’Connor 1-0.
SUBS: C Loftus 0-1 for Higgins 24mins; A Moran for Regan 50, D Vaughan for Nally 54, C Barrett for Hall 60, S O’Shea 0-1 for Gibbons 63, J Doherty for D O’Connor.
REFEREE: B Cassidy (Derry)