National Football League Division 2 Semi-Final
Mayo 2-22 Clare 2-18
SO near and yet so far for Clare after a second-half recovery wasn’t sufficient to prevent Mayo from returning to Division 1 at the first attempt in Cusack Park this afternoon, reports Eoin Brennan.
Ultimately, it will go down as a missed opportunity for Colm Collins’ side to bridge a two decade gap to Clare’s last appearance in the top flight after a rousing revival just fell short.
After an encouraging start in which Eoin Cleary (2), Gavin Cooney, Cathal O’Connor and David Tubridy edged the Banner 0-5 to 0-3 in front by the ninth minute, Clare rather lost their way for the remainder of the half. Indeed, for the final 25 minutes of the opening period, Mayo were allowed to swiftly move through the gears to outgun their hosts by 2-10 to 0-03 for the remainder and soar 11 points clear by the break.
Goals from Cillian O’Connor (Penalty) and Oisin Mullin left a ragged Clare craving the half-time break at 2-13 to 0-08. With the game seemingly out of reach, Clare still stubbornly refused to drop their heads and would be rewarded when Éire Óg duo Darren O’Neill and Gavin Cooney raided for goals inside 11 minutes of the new half.
Suddenly, it was Clare who had the wind in their sails, with a hat-trick of points from Cleary and impressive substitute Emmet McMahon eventually whittling the arrears down to just three nearing the 70 minute mark.
However, unfortunately Clare just left themselves with too big a mountain to climb as a Paddy Durcan injury-time point proved enough to guarantee Mayo’s passage back to the top tier for 2022.
The Banner should take several positives from their spirited second half display as they now prepare for Division 1 table-toppers Kerry in the Munster Championship opener in Killarney in a fortnight’s time.
Mayo: Robbie Hennelly (Breaffy); Enda Hession (Garrymore), Oisin Mullin (Kilmaine), Lee Keegan (Westport); Rory Brickenden (Westport), Paddy Durcan (Castlebar Mitchels, Stephen Coen (Hollymount/Carramore); Matthew Ruane (Breaffy), Diarmuid O’Connor (Ballintubber); Kevin McLoughlin (Knockmore), Aidan O’Shea (Breaffy), Bryan Walsh (Ballintubber); Tommy Conroy (The Neale), Cillian O’Connor (Ballintubber), Ryan O’Donoghue (Belmullet).
Subs: Jordan Flynn (Crossmolina Deel Rovers) for D. O’Connor (11), Paul Towey (Charlestown) for C. O’Connor (35), Darren McHale (Knockmore) for O’Donoghue (51), Eoghan O’Donoghue (Belmullet) for Hession (53), Conor Loftus Crossmolina Deel Rovers) for Conroy (62), Conor O’Shea (Breaffy) for Brickenden (62)
Scorers: Cillian O’Connor (1-4, 1-0 Pen, 1f, 1m); Tommy Conroy, Paul Towey (2f) (0-3 each); Ryan O’Donoghue (1f, 1m), Matthew Ruane, Paddy Durcan (0-2 each); Oisin Mullin (1-0); Bryan Walsh, Stephen Coen, Kevin McLoughlin, Lee Keegan, Rory Brickenden, Darren McHale (0-1 each)
Clare: Stephen Ryan (Kilrush Shamrocks); Ciaran Russell (Éire Óg), Cillian Brennan (Clondegad), Eoghan Collins (Ballyhaunis, Mayo); Cian O’Dea (Kilfenora), Sean Collins (Cratloe), Daniel Walsh (Kilmurry Ibrickane); Darren O’Neill (Éire Óg), Cathal O’Connor (Coolmeen); Pearse Lillis (Cooraclare), Eoin Cleary (St Joseph’s Miltown), Darragh Bohannon (Shannon Gaels); Gavin Cooney (Éire Óg), Joe McGann (St Breckan’s), David Tubridy (Doonbeg)
Subs: Conall Ó hÁiniféin (Ruan) for Walsh (23), Podge Collins (Cratloe) for McGann (HT), Conor Jordan (Austin Stacks, Kerry) for E. Collins (HT), Aaron Griffin (Lissycasey) for Cooney (51), Emmet McMahon (Kildysart) for O’Connor (51), Cillian Rouine (Ennistymon) for Ó hÁiniféin (58), Keelan Sexton (Kilmurry Ibrickane) for Lillis (58)
Scorers: Eoin Cleary (0-8, 6f); Gavin Cooney (1-1); Emmet McMahon, David Tubridy (0-3 each); Darren O’Neill (1-0); Cathal O’Connor, Pearse Lillis, Podge Collins (0-1 each)
Referee: Niall Cullen (Fermanagh)