Down defeat Mayo to kick-start fight for survival
Tuesday, 12 March 2013
Down 0-13 Mayo 0-11.
DOWN discovered that two points can make a huge difference in Division One.
Down's winning margin over Mayo on Saturday was two points and it means that they now have two league points alongside their beaten opponents, Mayo.
It means that James McCartan's men can begin to look up rather than solely worry about going down this season.
Down were well worth their victory with their new-found defensive cohesion on show once again. Aidan Carr is excelling in the role of sweeper and his strength emerging from defence as well as his keen positional sense meant that Mayo found it difficult to break down the Mourne defence.
Ryan Boyle now looks positively comfortable in the full-back line and Dan McCartan has developed the welcome knack of alleviating pressure at vital stages of the game.
Carr's performance in the backline was only bettered by Donal O'Hare's display in the forwards. The corner forward scored eight of Down's 13 points and although only one was from play his accuracy from the dead ball is something that Down have been lacking in recent seasons.
The fact that O'Hare appears to thrive under pressure speaks volumes about how much of an asset the Burren man may prove to be for Down in the years to come.
Down's half-forward line was incredibly industrious and helped to establish a five point lead at the beginning of the second half.
In reality, Down controlled large parts of the game and Donal O'Hare got his side off to the perfect start by converting a free on four minutes.
Jason Doherty levelled for Mayo with a fisted point when a goal looked to be on but by the 10th minute Down were back in front thanks to a strong run and neat finish from Paul McComiskey.
Mayo then enjoyed their best period of play in the first half and rattled off three points in a row through Doherty, Michael Conroy and Cathal Carolan. Those scores proved to be the last Mayo would score in the first half as Down took complete control.
Benny Coulter's duel with Ger Cafferkey was one of the most intriguing aspects of the first half and while Coulter may have felt that his marker was stretching the rules with some of his physical defending, it proved to be an effective way of marshalling Down's talisman.
Still, Cafferkey conceded a free which O'Hare promptly pointed and when he added another a minute later, Down were back on level terms.
Conor Laverty then blasted over from close range after being set up superbly by Coulter before Ryan Mallon's marauding forward run was rewarded with a fine point.
Just before the break, Cafferkey was substituted after a clumsy challenge by Laverty which earned the Kilcoo man a yellow card.
It concluded what had been a satisfactory half for the Mourne men who held a 0-6 to 0-4 lead at half-time.
Things only improved for Down after the break. Connaire Harrison fielded superbly before spinning and pointing seconds after the restart. Another converted free from O'Hare and a well worked point finished by Poland stretched Down's lead to five points.
James Horan made some substitutions and Mayo began to get a grip on the match, particularly around midfield. Barry Moran was guilty of missing a gilt-edged goal chance but Brendan McVeigh did brilliantly to deny the Mayo midfielder.
Still, Moran added a point on 44 minutes and when Carolan reduced the arrears two minutes later things began to look ominous for Down.
Doherty duly converted two frees in succession to level the game, but just as Mayo appeared to have the momentum on their side Down were able to respond and won two frees in dangerous territory.
O'Hare converted both opportunities, the second of which was incredibly difficult given the distance and acute angle from which he shot.
But Mayo were determined not to go down without a fight and points from the dead ball from Kevin McLoughlin and goalkeeper Kenneth O'Malley levelled matters with only five minutes to play.
Down's mental strength proved to be the difference and when Tom Cunniffe conceded a free for a foul off the ball O'Hare did what he had done for the duration of the game and put the ball over the bar.
Seconds later O'Hare scored his eighth point of the game and his first from play after some quick thinking from a free found the forward in plenty of space. He drilled the ball over the bar with conviction. It meant that Down only had to see out injury time and they showed more poise and belief to play out the additional three minutes without any real incident of note.
Down now travel to Kerry who remain pointless after being comfortably beaten by Donegal in Ballybofey. The onus is on Down to keep up the standard of performance they have shown in the last two games. If they can do that the threat of relegation will become that little bit more distant after Saturday.
DOWN: Brendan McVeigh, Dan McCartan, Benny McArdle, Ryan Boyle, Ryan Mallon (0-1), Aidan Carr, Keith Quinn, Kalum King, Kevin McKernan, Conor Laverty (0-1), Mark Poland (0-1), Paul McComiskey (0-1), Donal O'Hare (0-8, 7f), Connaire Harrison (0-1), Benny Coulter. (Subs) Darren O'Hagan for Ryan Mallon (44 mins), Jerome Johnston for Keith Quinn (53), Conor Gough for Kalum King (61), Eoin McCartan for Connaire Harrison (61).
MAYO: Kenneth O'Malley (0-1,45), Chris Barrett, Ger Cafferkey, Keith Higgins, Lee Keegan, Donal Vaughan, Colm Boyle, Barry Moran (0-1), Aidan O'Shea, Kevin McLoughlin (0-1), Richie Feeney, Cathal Carolan (0-3), Enda Varley, Jason Doherty (0-4, 3f), Michael Conroy (0-1). (Subs) Kevin Keane for Ger Cafferkey (35 mins), Tom Cunniffe for Richie Feeney (43), Alan Freeman for Donal Vaughan (54), Evan Regan for Enda Varley (62).?Ref: David Coldrick (Meath)?
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