Last year's All-Ireland finalists Mayo got off to a winning start in their first league game outside the top flight since 1997.

Mayo were comfortable winners over Down in Castlebar today and looked in fine fettle in their first game in nearly five months.

Goals in either half from Tommy Conroy and Ryan O’Donoghue put Mayo in control and they rarely took their foot off the gas throughout.

Young players like Conroy, O’Donoghue, Matthew Ruane and debutant Enda Hession stepped up to the mark in the absence of some of Mayo’s experienced names.

It was their first game since the retirements of David Clarke, Chris Barrett, Séamie O’Shea, Donal Vaughan, Tom Parsons and Keith Higgins, while Aidan O’Shea, Jason Doherty and Brendan Harrison are returning from injury.

On a wet Elvery's MacHale Park pitch, Mayo looked in control for most of the game.

They led by seven at the break and that lead never looked under threat in the second half.

Indeed, their second goal, after 41 minutes, finished the game as a contest.

Tommy Conroy celebrates after ramming home the opening goal

That came when the aforementioned Conroy and O’Donoghue combined beautifully. Conroy used his pace and power to break through and square the ball for O’Donoghue and the Belmullet man cut back and finished to the net emphatically.

That had Mayo 2-12 to 0-6 in front and the rest of the game was just a formality.

Mayo were well worth their seven point half-time lead too.

Mayo’s opening goal came after 14 minutes when Conroy again used his pace, power and accuracy to break through and finish low past Rory Burns.

That put the hosts 1-4 to 0-4 in front.

At the other end, Corey Quinn and Young Footballer of the Year Oisin Mullin were having a great duel, with Quinn kicking two of Down’s first four points.

As is Mayo’s wont, there was a lot of space for Down in attack, a consequence of their high press perhaps but gradually Mayo got to grips with Down’s attack as the half wore on.

Indeed, Down only scored once more in the first half after the water break, a free from Barry O’Hagan in first half injury time.

Instead of it being a boost before the break for the Ulstermen, Mayo responded with two points before the whistle from Jordan Flynn and Conroy to give them a 1-10 to 0-6 lead.

That was as good as it got for the visitors as Mayo cruised through the second half.

The visitors did strike for a consolation goal from Stephen McConville after 59 minutes but Mayo finished with the last two scores of the game, two Cillian O’Connor frees after that man Conroy was fouled in both instances.

Mayo: R Hennelly; E Hession, O Mullin (0-01), L Keegan; M Plunkett (0-01), P Durcan, R Brickenden; M Ruane (0-02), D O’Connor (0-01, 1f); F McDonagh (0-01), K McLoughlin, J Flynn (0-01); T Conroy (1-03), C O’Connor (0-08, 7f, 1 '45), R O’Donoghue (1-01).

Subs used: E McLaughlin (0-01) for Brickenden, B Walsh for Flynn (both h/t); C Loftus for McDonagh (47); S Coen for McLoughlin, A Orme for O’Donoghue (both 56), J McCormack for D O’Connor (62), C Boyle for Keegan (67).

Down: R Burns; G Collins, G McGovern, P Murdock; K McKernan, P Laverty, J Flynn; R McEvoy, C Mooney; J Guinness (0-01), C Poland, C Doherty; D Guinness (0-01), C Quinn (0-02, 1 mark), B O’Hagan (0-05, 4f).

Subs used: L Kerr (0-01) for Doherty (35); O McCabe for Poland (40); D O’Hagan for McKernan (43); P Devlin (0-01) for McKernan, L Middleton for Quinn, S McConville (1-00) for McEvoy (all 50); B McArdle for Murdock (54)

Referee: Fergal Kelly (Longford).