Mayo cruised to a comfortable win over Down in their first game outside the top flight since 1997.
In their first game since last December’s All-Ireland final, James Horan’s men looked in fine fettle in Castlebar today.
Goals in either half from Tommy Conroy and Ryan O’Donoghue put Mayo in control and they rarely took their foot off the pedal throughout.
Minus the services of six recently retired players along with injured trio Aidan O’Shea, Jason Doherty and Brendan Harrison, it was Mayo’s young guns who impressed most here.
Tommy Conroy and Ryan O’Donoghue starred in the full-forward line, Matthew Ruane was strong at midfield while debutant Enda Hession looked comfortable in the home defence.
On a wet MacHale Park sod, Mayo looked in control for most of the game.
They led by seven at the break and that lead never looked under threat in the second half.
Indeed, their second goal, after 41 minutes, finished the game as a contest.
That came when the aforementioned Conroy and O’Donoghue combined beautifully. Conroy used his pace and power to break through and square the ball for O’Donoghue and the Belmullet man cut back and finished to the net emphatically.
That had Mayo 2-12 to 0-6 in front and the rest of the game was just a formality.
Mayo were well worth their seven point half-time lead too.
Their high press suffocated Down and kept the Mourne men on the back foot.
Mayo’s opening goal came after 14 minutes when Conroy again used his pace, power and accuracy to break through and finish low past Rory Burns.
That put the hosts 1-4 to 0-4 in front.
O’Donoghue had, by this stage, three assists while Mayo were getting plenty of joy on the Down kick-out also, with Ruane impressing at midfield.
At the other end, Corey Quinn and Young Footballer of the Year Oisin Mullin were having a great duel, with Quinn kicking two of Down’s first four points.
As is Mayo’s wont, there was a lot of space for Down in attack, a consequence of their high press perhaps but gradually Mayo got to grips with Down’s attack as the half wore on.
Indeed, Down only scored once more in the first half after the water break, a free from Barry O’Hagan in first half injury time.
Instead of it being a boost before the break for the Ulstermen, Mayo responded with two points before the whistle from Jordan Flynn and Conroy to give them a 1-10 to 0-6 lead.
That was as good as it got for the visitors as Mayo cruised through the second half.
The visitors did strike for a consolation goal from Stephen McConville in the 59th minute.