Down 0-13 Mayo 0-11
James Horan was disappointed Mayo’s second-half comeback was still not enough to secure them two league points in Newry on Saturday night.
Man of the match Donal O’Hare kicked the last of his nine points in the 70th and 71st minutes to secure a first victory for Down, who led 0-9 to 0-4 after 40 minutes. But Mayo fought back to level the scores at 0-11 apiece with a 45 from goalkeeper Kenneth O’Malley in the 65th minute.
Two league points, so precious to both sides struggling in Division 1, were there to be won and it was Down, denied by an injury-time Cork goal at Páirc Esler last Sunday, who finished the stronger.
For the second week running, O’Hare was in fine scoring form and his free in the last minute of normal time nudged the Mournemen ahead and secured victory a minute later. The free was moved forward after a push in the back from Mayo sub Kevin Keane.
“With two minutes to go we had come back to level and we had all the momentum, we were playing the football,” Horan said.
“Down got an attack, there was a little shove on the back and there was a free in. There was three of those in the last couple of minutes so that is disappointing, but we’ll learn from it. We have some home games to come so we’ll look forward to those.”
With Donal Vaughan also limping off, and Alan Dillon, Andy Moran and Cillian O’Connor already missing, Horan admitted they are being “rattled” by injuries.
But Mayo’s shooting was poor throughout and they hit five wides in the opening 20 minutes.
Although they led 0-4 to 0-2 after a point from Cathal Carolan in the 16th minute, they failed to score again for the remainder of the first-half.
Mayo twice carved a porous Down defence open in the first quarter but, on both occasions Jason Doherty and Michael Conroy opted to fist the ball over the bar when the goal chance was on.
Down were sluggish in the early stages but reeled off seven points in a row either side of half-time. They scored four without reply in the 15 minutes before half-time to lead 0-6 to 0-4 at the break.
Kevin McLoughlin struggled to get into the game on the wing and after seeing so little of the ball in the second quarter, it left Mayo with plenty to think about during the interval.
Down extended their lead with three quick-fire points in the first five minutes after the restart.
Donal O’Hare won a high catch with his back to goal, turned and pointed with his left foot in the first minute.
Down ’keeper Brendan McVeigh, back in favour and making his first league start, made a superb reflex save from Barry Moran in the 38th minute.
Lee Keegan popped a pass up from the ground and he steamed on to it, looking certain to bust the net, but McVeigh saved from point-blank range.
Mayo were held scoreless for 26 minutes either side of the interval but Carolan ended the scoring drought in the 41stminute.
Barry Moran then found his range before Carolan scored a superb point with his left foot while off balance.
Barry Moran and Aidan O’Shea completely took over in midfield and Mayo began to dominate. From 0-9 to 0-4 behind after 40 minutes, they levelled it up at nine points apiece 17 minutes later with a Jason Doherty free. Having blown a lead last week, Down looked nervous as Mayo sensed blood but O’Hare steered them home.
A relieved James McCartan said: “Obviously we felt we should have won last week.
“It would have been easy to feel sorry for ourselves but we told the lads if they kept putting in performances like that, the results would look after themselves.
“We didn’t play as fluidly as we did last week but it was very nice to win a tight match. It is game on now. In previous years we’ve played worse and had more points but another win and you might be looking at things differently.”
Scorers for Down: D O’Hare 0-9 (7fs), R Mallon, C Laverty, M Poland, P McComiskey 0-1 each.
Scorers for Mayo: J Doherty 0-4 (3f), C Carolan 0-3, M Conroy, B Moran, K McLoughlin (f), K O’Malley (45) 0-1 each.
Subs for Down: D O’Hagan for Mallon (45), J Johnston for Quinn (54), C Gough for King (62), E McCartan for Harrison (62).
Subs for Mayo: K Keane for Cafferkey (35), T Cunniffe for Feeney (43), A Freeman for Vaughan (54), E Regan for Varley (63).
Referee: David Coldrick (Meath).
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