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Under-strength Derry make Mayo work for victory

MAY0 2-12 DERRY 1-7

There was precious little by way of drama or excitement on offer in Castlebar yesterday so it seems only right that these Division 1 title contenders will get a second chance to win some admirers when they meet again in next Sunday's Allianz League semi-final.

Another tour de force from in-form full-forward Alan Freeman ultimately proved to be the difference between the sides.

The talented targetman tormented Derry's patchwork defence and contributed 2-6 of Mayo's tally, including a crucial goal from a penalty early in the second half. However, Derry, who had already qualified for the semi-finals, were understandably pleased with the performance of their second-string outfit.

Brian McIver's shadow selection trailed by 0-8 to 0-1 at the interval but they rallied bravely at the beginning of the fourth quarter to make a game of it.

A goal from Emmett McGuckin on 52 minutes left the natives among the crowd of 9,292 extremely restless but Alan Freeman came to their side's rescue with another brilliant goal in the 57th minute to settle the nerves.

"The first half some of the lads were probably a wee bit overawed, said McIver. "We were shooting from too far out and not working the scores. But I have to say they played some football in the second half."

Mayo had got off to a solid start and with Tom Parsons in dominant form at midfield, scores arrived from Alan Freeman (3, one free), Mikey Sweeney and substitute Darren Coen.

Wind-assisted Derry's efforts were dogged in the first half by poor shooting and they had clocked up 11 wides before the interval. Their only effort to hit the target came in the 20th minute from wing-back Aidan McAlynn.

Having fallen nine points behind after Freeman's penalty on 40 minutes, Emmett McGuckin's stunning goal threw Derry a lifeline, and points from subs Aaron Kerrigan (free) and Emmett Bradley and Charlie Kielt left Mayo ahead by just 1-8 to 1-5.

The homeside got back on track in the last quarter, and points from Donal Vaughan, Andy Moran and Freeman (2) saw them close the game out.

Mayo: R Hennelly; T Cunniffe, G Cafferkey, K Keane; C Boyle, S McHale, D Vaughan (0-1); T Parsons (0-2), S O'Shea; K Higgins, A Moran (0-1), J Doherty; M Sweeney (0-2), A Freeman (2-6, 1-0 pen, 3f, '45), C O'Connor. Subs: D Coen for O'Connor (inj, 10m); R Feeney for Higgins (half-time), B Moran for Doherty (47), M Conroy for Sweeney (47), D O'Connor for Parsons (62); L Keegan for Boyle (70).

Derry: E McNicholl; O Duffy, C McAtamney, K McKaigue; C Kielt (0-1), M Craig, A McAlynn (0-2); E McGuckin (1-1), N Holly; A Devlin, D Heavron, C McWilliams; J Kearney, D Mullan, C McGoldrick. Subs: E Bradley (0-1) for McGoldrick (half-time), A Kerrigan (0-1, 1f) for Mullan (45), K Conway for Devlin (52), N McFeeley (0-1) for Heavron (60), P Cassidy for Kearney (68), N McNicholl for McGuckin (69).

Referee: D Coldrick (Meath).

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