Mayo 1-10 Donegal 0-09
By Chris McNulty in Castlebar
DONEGAL are tonight anxiously awaiting the results of an x-ray on the left knee of All-Star full-back Neil McGee.
The Gaoth Dobhair man had his left knee examined to determine the extent of the injury that forced him off after 46 minutes of this afternoon’s loss to Mayo that leaves Jim McGuinness’s team still in danger of being relegated.
McGee was helped from the pitch and down the tunnel by the team doctor, Mr Kevin Moran, and the team’s physiotherapist, Dermot Simpson, after a stud from an opponent went across his patellar tendon.
“He dislocated his knee cap at the time,” said McGuinness.
“They think it might have re-located again itself when he got it straightened up in the shower. We’ll just have to wait and see.”
Less than a minute after McGee was withdrawn, Mayo netted the game’s crucial score. Cathal Carolan won a vital turnover deep in Mayo territory.
Scampering corner-back Keith Higgins made a telling incision into Donegal’s skin and then Seamus O’Shea fed Michael Conroy, whose effort looped over Paul Durcan and into the net off the inside of the post.
Donegal’s task was stiffer still when Anthony Thompson was sent off in the 54th minute when he hauled down Chris Barrett, just four minutes after first being booked.
Mayo finished well with Colm Boyle on target and the substitute Enda Varley scoring twice late in the day to make the win safe, although Donegal were still within touching distance.
Ryan McHugh’s first point for the Donegal seniors and Michael Murphy’s free kept them with some hope of late salvation, but on a day of mass frustration for the All-Ireland champions they could have no qualms about the result.
Mayo also finished with 14 men as Jason Doherty picked up his second booking two minutes from the end.
Donegal had started well and were 0-4 to 0-1 up by the 17th minute, Murphy and Colm McFadden with a brace apiece.
But Mayo, propelled by the frees of Cillian O’Connor, hit five-in-a-row to lead by two, 0-6 to 0-4, at the break. With a little more composure and certainly a degree more of a ruthless edge, Mayo could have had more between them. Paul Durcan got the slightest, but most crucial of touches to deflect a 20th minute goal chance for Doherty round his post.
In the second half, Barry Moran and Seamus O’Shea lorded the centrefield battle and it was from here that the westerners got the platform for victory.
McGuinness meanwhile reflects on a day of wasted possession and poor distribution with the first half alone seeing Donegal make nine unforced errors.
“That is very unlike us,” he said. Of more pressing concern, though, was the extent of McGee’s injury. Nine weeks out from their Ulster meeting with Tyrone, the Donegal manager said: “As long as he’s alright, we can live with the result.”
Mayo: D Clarke; C Barrett, G Cafferkey, K Higgins; L Keegan, T Cunniffe, C Boyle (0-1); B Moran, S O’Shea; K McLoughlin (0-2, 1f), A O’Shea, C Carolan; C O’Connor (0-5, 4f), J Doherty, M Conroy (1-0). Subs: R Feeney for O’Connor (54), D Vaughan for Higgins (59), E Varley (0-2) for Conroy (62), B Gallagher for S.O’Shea (64), Alan Freeman for Carolan (70).
Donegal: P Durcan; P McGrath, N McGee, E McGee; D Walsh, F McGlynn, A Thompson; N Gallagher, R Kavanagh (0-1); R Bradley, L McLoone, M McHugh; P McBrearty, M Murphy (0-3, 2f), C McFadden (0-3, 2f). Subs: R Wherity for Walsh (23), R McHugh (0-1) for Bradley (ht), M O’Reilly (0-1) for McLoone (ht), R Bradley for N.McGee (46), M McElhinney for Wherity (60).
Referee: Marty Duffy (Sligo).
SEE MONDAY’S DONEGAL NEWS FOR FULL COVERAGE FROM CHRIS MCNULTY AT LIAM PORTER IN CASTLEBAR
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