Mayo 2-13 Donegal 0-11
Mayo will meet Dublin in the All-Ireland SFC semi-final, following their eight-point win over Donegal at Croke Park on Saturday evening.
Michael Murphy’s five points kept Donegal very much in touch in the face of Mayo dominance, but Aidan O’Shea’s stoppage time goal sent the Connacht men in with a 1-7 to 0-6 interval lead.
Lee Keegan grabbed a second goal, and the Connacht champions defended superbly, with scores from Alan Freeman, Andy Moran, Cillian O’Connor and Keith Higgins seeing them safely through to the last four.
In front of a crowd of 61,784, Murphy edged Donegal in front following a tense opening five minutes, but wing back Lee Keegan displayed pace and vision to push forward and pick off two excellent scores.
Murphy, who had little joy on the edge of the square early on, drifted deeper and sent over a glorious long range point, but Mayo’s movement had the Donegal defensive system stretched, and the McGee brothers were struggling to contain the threat of Aidan O’Shea, operating at full forward.
Jason Dohery landed a couple of scores, with Cillian O’Connor claiming his second as Mayo moved two points ahead, Murphy having converted a ’45.
But with Colm Boyle excelling in the role of sweeper, the Ulster men ran into trouble time and again, and faced sweeping Mayo counter-attacks.
Kevin McLoughlin rounded off one swift move with a point, but as the first half slipped into added time, Murphy’s fifth score, from a free, narrowed the gap to a single point.
But Mayo struck for a goal in the 37th minute. Seamus O’Shea aimed a booming delivery at his brother, and Aidan got out in front of Neil McGee to gather, turn his marker and beat Paul Durcan with a crisply struck angled finish.
Mayo went in at the break with a 1-7 to 0-6 lead, and another massive boost sent them seven clear, when Keegan got on the end of O’Connor’s assist to beat Durcan with an angle, dipping shot that dropped into the bottom corner of the net.
Mayo were in dreamland, and despite having the responsibility of shadowing Donegal danger-man Paddy McBrearty, Keegan was rampant, charging forward again to win the free that O’Connor converted.
With full back Neil McGee forced out by injury shortly after the restart, the Donegal defence was crumbling, and Kevin McLoughlin was gifted a point, before Keith Higgins floated over a long range effort.
Forced to push out of defence, Donegal looked less than comfortable, and their short-passing game was largely ineffective against the alert Higgins, Boyle and Vaughan, until the latter received a black card in the 52nd minute.
Barry Moran denied Mark McHugh with a heroic block, and Donegal went a quarter of an hour without a score until Leo McLoone fired over a point.
They were still seven behind and searching vainly for the sort of penetration which would rescue their season.
Andy Moran, on as a blood sub for Barry Moran, landed a delightful score, and while Murphy and Anthony Thompson pulled back points, the game was very much in Mayo’s control, and they saw it out with late scores from Alan Freeman and Jason Doherty.
Mayo: D Clarke, D Vaughan, G Cafferkey, K Higgins (0-01), L Keegan (1-02), T Cunniffe, C Boyle, S O’Shea, T Parsons, D O’Connor, A Moran, K McLoughlin (0-02), J Doherty (0-03), A O’Shea (1-00), C O’Connor (0-03, 2f).
Subs: C Barrett for Cunniffe, P Durcan for Vaughan (BC), A Moran (0-01) for B Moran, A Freeman (0-01) for S O’Shea, K Keane for Cafferkey
Donegal: P Durcan, P McGrath, N McGee, E McGee, R McHugh, K Lacey, F McGlynn, N Gallagher, C Toye (0-01), H McFadden, O MacNiallais, M McHugh, P McBearty, M Murphy (0-08, 5f, 1 ’45), C McFadden
Subs: A Thompson (0-01) for N McGee, M McElhinney for Toye, L McLoone (0-01) for MacNiallais
Referee: D Gough (Meath).