Andy Moran kicked two injury-time points to ensure his Mayo side sealed a place in the All-Ireland semi-finals as they withheld any notions of Donegal comeback.
Donegal were bossed in the opening 35 minutes and couldn’t have complained at being 1-7 to 0-4 down at half-time. And although got back to just a point down in the 51st minute – 1-9 to 1-8 – when Michael Murphy scored a fine point, moments later Patrick Durcan popped over to keep a little daylight between the two teams.
However, midway through the second half, Donegal missed six scoreable chances in a row – five wides and a Murphy free that dropped short – and that meant they were always chasing. When the tills were totted at the end, Donegal kicked 10 wides in the second half.
In the end, David Gough’s final whistle brought with it a pitch invasion from the vocal home support in the crowd of 27,023, who have another chapter to write on their journey to win Sam Maguire for the first time since 1951.
Mayo took a little while to feel themselves in the game. Each passing point, though, brought with it a louder roar. Durcan, Cillian O’Connor, Chris Barrett, Jason Doherty and James Carr all scored to move them 0-6 to 0-3 ahead.
Patton in goal, after an uncharacteristically poor kick-out, had to make a stop from Darren Coen when O’Connor won possession.
The roof was creaking for Donegal and on 28 minutes O’Connor snuck in around the back to slap home a dropping ball from the boot of Aidan O’Shea. Suddenly, the west was awake. Durcan added another score right on the whistle.
Donegal needed a goal you felt and Murphy sent Hennelly the wrong way from a 43rd-minute penalty. It was Murphy who was fouled for the award of the kick, with Lee Keegan penalised by match referee David Gough. It made the score 1-8 to 1-5 for Mayo.
On 53 minutes Andy Moran cut inside McGrath, made an inroad for goal and shot true and hard only for Patton to make an inspirational save as he scampered from his goal line.
With half the Castlebar crowd still drawing their breath, Donegal produced the slickest of breaks and Murphy, on the turn, scored to get Donegal back to just one down. It was the first time it looked on for Donegal, only for their poor kicking to cost them dear.
Donegal:Shaun Patton; Paddy McGrath, Stephen McMenamin, Odhran McFadden-Ferry; Daire Ó Baoill (0-2), Eamonn Doherty, Ryan McHugh; Hugh McFadden, Jason McGee; Ciaran Thompson, Niall O'Donnell (0-2), Michael Langan; Patrick McBrearty (0-2), Michael Murphy (1-4, 1-0 pen, 2f), Jamie Brennan.
Subs: Leo McLoone for J.McGee (10), Paul Brennan for Doherty (32), Caolan Ward for McGrath (42), Oisin Gallen for Thompson (55) Eoin McHugh for P Brennan (63, black card), Eoghan McGettigan for Langan (70+3)
Mayo:Robert Hennelly; Chris Barrett (0-1), Brendan Harrison, Keith Higgins; Colm Boyle, Lee Keegan, Stephen Coen; Aidan O’Shea, Seamus O’Shea; Fionn McDonagh, Jason Doherty (0-1), Patrick Durcan (0-3); Cillian O’Connor (1-4, 4f), Darren Coen, James Carr (0-2).
Subs: Eoin O’Donoghue for Higgins (black card, 15), Andy Morgan (0-2) for D Coen (26), Kevin McLoughlin (0-1) for Doherty (45), Fergal Boland for Carr (66), Matthew Ruane for S O’Shea (70+1), James Durcan for O’Connor (70+6)
Referee: David Gough (Meath).