Mayo 0-11 Down 1-13
Down produced an impressive performance to upset the odds and take two precious league points away from their trip to McHale Park, Castlebar.
With Ambrose Rogers, Aidan Carr and Conor Maginn all leading by example, Down were full value for their five point victory which lifted them off the foot of the Division 1 table.
Mayo never really recovered from the ninth minute dismissal of midfielder Aidan O’Shea, and Down substitute Kevin McKernan played the role of the ‘extra man’ excellently.
Derry referee Barry Cassidy, was escorted off the field by stewards after the match as Mayo supporters made their feelings known about a number of contentious decisions. However, there was no disputing that the best team won.
“That’s a tremendous result for us,” remarked Down manager, James McCartan. “We’re delighted to come here and get a result. I felt we showed a wee bit of resilience. We moved the ball quicker, which we’re trying to do.
“Some people think we’re trying to play some fancy defensive system but that’s certainly not the case. We want the ball moved as quickly as possible into the forwards. We think we can cause problems if we do that. If we don’t, we get caught up, closed down, and look a very average team.”
Mayo took an early lead with points from Andy Moran and Conor Mortimer but the exit of Aidan O’Shea changed the complexion of the game. The 22-year-old was red carded by referee Barry Cassidy after tangling with Down’s Danny Hughes.
Ten minutes later the visitors took the lead for the first time when Conor Maginn palmed in a goal after Rogers and Conor Laverty combined cleverly.
The sides were level for the third time when Alan Dillon and Conor Mortimer (free) posted points for Mayo.
However, with Rogers in dominant form around the middle, Down finished the half strongly and posted five of the next scores in an impressive 10-minute spell.
Carr contributed three, two from well-taken frees, with Maginn and Rogers, from a 45m kick, also on target. This purple patch left Down ahead by 1-7 to 0-6 at the interval, and in a strong position. And the Mourne men were still four points clear early in the second half when Mayo began their comeback.
Mortimer and Freeman halved the deficit with 20 minutes remaining but a string of missed scoring opportunities cost James Horan’s side dearly with both Freeman and goalkeeper Robert Hennelly spurning chances from place-kicks.
Mayo managed just one solitary score in the final 20 minutes as Down closed the game out impressively. The experienced Benny Coulter came off the bench and tagged two points with Kevin Duffin and Danny Hughes adding the insurance scores.
Mayo: R Hennelly; K Keane, G Cafferkey, K Higgins; R Feeney, D Vaughan, L Keegan; A O’Shea, B Moran; A Dillon (0-2), A Freeman (0-2, 1f), J Doherty; C Mortimer (0-6, 6fs), A Moran (0-1), E Varley. Subs used: S O’Shea for Doherty; M Conroy for Varley; P Harte for Moran; P Gardiner for Feeney.
Down: B McVeigh; D McCartan, C Garvey, D Turley; D Gordon, A Brannigan, N McParland; A Rogers (0-3, 1’45), K King; D Hughes (0-1), M Poland, A Carr (0-5, 3fs); C Laverty, A McConville, C Maginn (1-1). Subs used: K Kernan for Garvey; K Duffin (0-1) for Turley; B Coulter (0-2) for McConville; P Turley for Rogers; E McCartan for Poland.
Referee: B Cassidy (Derry)