/ GAA

Mayo 3-18 Down 2-09

Updated: Saturday, 04 Aug 2012 20:46

Michael Conroy with his second goal in Mayo's rout of the Mournemen
Michael Conroy with his second goal in Mayo's rout of the Mournemen

Mayo struck form at Croke Park to book their place in the All-Ireland SFC semi-finals on a 3-18 to 2-09 scoreline against Down.

Jason Doherty’s early goal was cancelled out by a Kalum King strike, but Mayo dominance was rewarded with a second goal from Michael Conroy, sending them in with a 2-07 to 1-04 interval lead

Conroy grabbed his second goal just after half-time. Cillian O’Connor (0-07) and Alan Dillon (0-04) led the way for the rampant Westerners, before Benny Coulter pulled back a stoppage-time goal. 

Mayo goalkeeper David Clarke had to make an early save from an Eoin McCartan volley as Down probed for openings, but it was Mayo who struck a major blow in the fifth minute when Andy Moran slipped a perfect pass for Doherty to guide a low finish past Brendan McVeigh.

A searing break by Keith Higgins set up Andy Moran for a point, and with Barry Moran ruling the skies in the middle, the Connacht champions pressed on and opened up the Mourne defence almost at will.

Andy Moran got on the end of a flowing move to fire in a shot which was blocked by Conor Garvey.

Down were living dangerously, but towards the end of the opening quarter they dragged themselves out of trouble with a Kalum King goal. The big midfielder was allowed acres of space to finish off tidy interplay between Conor Laverty and Benny Coulter and bring his side level.

Aidan Carr’s four points, two of them from play, maintained parity for the Ulster men until Michael Conroy popped up, unmarked, to collect Kevin McLoughlin’s pass and slot home a second Mayo goal in the 27th minute.

O’Connor clipped over his fourth free of the afternoon, and the Connacht champions were looking good at 2-07 to 1-04 at the break.

The game was over as a contest as early as the 43rd minute when Mayo once again exposed the Down defence to plunder a third goal.

Andy Moran’s quickly-taken free allowed O’Connor to weigh up his options before crossing for Conroy to palm home at the far post.

Mayo now led by double scores, 3-09 to 1-06, and had the appetite for more, with the excellent Alan Dillon curling over a gem and wing-back Lee Keegan once again displaying his finishing ability.

Despite losing skipper Andy Moran to injury, the Connacht champions kept an impressive momentum going, with midfielder Aidan O’Shea getting his name on the scoresheet.

Down’s resistance and spirit had been well and truly broken well before the finish, and when substitute Enda Varley became the ninth Mayo player to score, they trailed by 14 points.

Down did pull back a goal in additional time through Benny Coulter, but that was scant consolation on a day when their deficiencies were cruelly exposed.

Mayo scorers: M Conroy 2-01, J Doherty 1-00, C O’Connor 0-07 (0-06f), A Dillon 0-04, K McLoughlin 0-02, L Keegan, A O’Shea, A Moran, E Varley 0-01 each.

Down scorers: B Coulter 1-01, K King 1-00, A Carr 0-07 (5f), L Doyle 0-01 (f).

Mayo: D Clarke, K Keane, G Cafferkey, K Higgins, L Keegan, D Vaughan, C Boyle, B Moran, A O’Shea, K McLoughlin, C O’Connor, A Dillon, M Conroy, A Moran, J Doherty.

Subs used: A Freeman for A Moran, R Feeney for Doherty, E Varley for Conroy, J Gibbons for O’Shea, C Barrett for Boyle

Down: B McVeigh; D O’Hagan, D Gordon, C Garvey; N McParland, B McArdle, K McKernan; A Rogers, K King; A Carr, M Poland, C Maginn; E McCartan, C Laverty, B Coulter.

Subs used: A Branagan for McParland, D O’Hare for McCartan, L Doyle for Maginn, D Turley for Garvey, D Rooney for McArdle.

Referee: Maurice Deegan (Laois).