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Wasteful Donegal paid a major price, says Bonner

Mayo 1-14 Donegal 1-10

Missed opportunity: Donegal boss Declan Bonner was disappointed
Missed opportunity: Donegal boss Declan Bonner was disappointed

By Chris McNulty

Mayo remain the men they can't kill and the team that just won't go away.

In a Castlebar crescendo, Mayo sent Donegal spiralling out of the All-Ireland race and booked an eighth semi-final appearance in nine years.

Donegal - seen of late as Dublin's biggest challengers - kicked their way to defeat here with 10 second-half wides (14 in total) only partly telling the tale of the tape. For a spell midway through the second period, Donegal spurned six chances in a row.

Much of the misfire from the Ulster champions - who were hauled back into the tie by Michael Murphy's 43rd-minute penalty - was down to Mayo. James Horan's men brought ferocious intensity, as if affronted by the notion that they were done. Mayo had 48 tackles and 29 turnovers to Donegal's 24 and 21. They were a team on a mission here and they did not go gentle.

"I thought the application and work rate was superb right through," Horan said.

"The turnovers we won in the first half and the tackles that guys put in, we didn't get the return we should have and that's always a concern.

"Andy Moran, Kevin McLoughlin, Fergal Boland, James Durcan when they came on, I thought they were very strong for us and gave us an out-ball.

"We're delighted overall with the performance and the win.

"Going into the second half, we knew Donegal were going to come at us and they did."

Castlebar erupted just before the half-hour when Cillian O'Connor sneaked in to bat home Aidan O'Shea's dropping ball.

Earlier, Shaun Patton saved well from Darren Coen when O'Connor intercepted a kick-out.

At the break, Donegal were 1-7 to 0-4 behind and paling water from their boat. Murphy hit the net from a penalty after he was taken down by Lee Keegan - a decision that Horan said was "incredibly harsh".

With under 20 minutes remaining, Murphy had Donegal to within a point, but Paddy Durcan allowed Mayo to breath easier with a fine response. Durcan, who kept Ryan McHugh scoreless, kicked three points in a superb display.

It was somehow fitting that Andy Moran, the 35-year-old veteran, hit two points in added time.

"You can't afford to kick the wides we kicked in the second half and get a result at this level," was the blunt assessment from Declan Bonner, the Donegal manager.

"It is hugely disappointing. We have been scoring all season and they were decent chances - and not just one or two. We had a lot of wides in the second half which was disappointing."

Donegal: S Patton; P McGrath, S McMenamin, O McFadden-Ferry; D Ó Baoill (0-2), E Doherty, R McHugh; H McFadden, J McGee; C Thompson, N O'Donnell (0-2), M Langan; P McBrearty (0-2), M Murphy (1-4, 1-0 pen, 2f), J Brennan. Subs: L McLoone for J.McGee (10), P Brennan for Doherty (32), C Ward for McGrath (42), O Gallen for Thompson (55) E McHugh for P Brennan (b-c, 63), E McGettigan for Langan (70+3)

mayo: R Hennelly; C Barrett (0-1), B Harrison, K Higgins; C Boyle, L Keegan, S Coen; A O'Shea, S O'Shea; F McDonagh, J Doherty (0-1), P Durcan (0-3); C O'Connor (1-4, 4f), D Coen, J Carr (0-2). Subs: E O'Donoghue for Higgins (b-c, 15), A Moran (0-2) for D Coen (26), K McLoughlin (0-1) for Doherty (45), F Boland for Carr (66), M Ruane for S O'Shea (70+1), J Durcan for O'Connor (70+6)

Referee: D Gough (Meath).

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