MAYO 0-10 DERRY 1-09
REIGNING NATIONAL League champions, Derry began the defence of their crown on a winning note at James Stephens Park in Ballina, coming from 0-06 to 0-05 behind at half-time to record a hard-earned two point victory.
Already without a plethora of players heading West, the holders then had to replace full back Sean Martin Lockhart who became unavailable for personal reasons.
Barry McGuigan came into the side at centre half back, with Joe O'Kane moving back to the edge of the square, where he had to contend with the towering Andy Moran as Mayo played 'route one' football in the first half with the wind at their backs.
With Enda Lynn and Sean Leo McGoldrick dropping back in the first half to provide added protection, the Mayo forwards had difficulty in penetrating the compact Derry defence, all but four of their scores coming from placed balls.
Still it was from a similar tactic that Derry broke the deadlock in the 45th minute when Eoin Bradley broke the ball down to his brother Paddy. He spotted the run by James Kielt behind the Mayo defence and the Kilrea debut player finished with aplomb to put Derry 1-06 to 0-07 ahead.
Eoin Bradley led the attack well although with two Mayo players mostly in attendance. Gerard Cafferky hardly got hands on the ball but it was when Bradley got possession he always posed a threat, although he too often had nobody to lay off the ball to.
Wing-forwards Enda Lynn and Sean Leo McGoldrick showed composure and control as they played in what were effectively extra half-back positions, dropping back behind midfield most of the time. With James Kielt moving outfield from the inside line that left Seamus and Eoin Bradley inside on their own.
Derry manager, Damian Cassidy refused to criticise referee Maurice Deegan of Laois but he was at a loss to understand how Derry had four yellow cards - Barry McGuigan, Patsy Bradley, Brian Og McAlary, Ryan Dillon - whereas Mayo had none over the 70 minutes.
"Some of the cards I have no complaints about but I thought there were times when Mayo could have picked up cards," said the Oak Leaf boss. "Referees are under a huge amount of pressure with these new rules."
However he was delighted with the result, "Our players worked extremely hard and we got the win. We were patchy at times but on other occasions we played attractive football."
Of the newcomers he said, "They sent out a message to everyone that they are prepared to fight for their places. The players we introduced during the McKenna Cup stepped up to the mark today.
"They certainly had a big bearing on this performance. It is great they have stepped up to show they have the quality to play at this level. It sends out a message to the other players that they have the hunger and it will increase competition for places."
Ryan Dillon was solid at corner-back, while Paul Cartin yet again showed well at wing-back. Fergal Doherty and the gloveless Joe Diver came to the fore at midfield in the second half, while Paul Young, Brian Mullan and Paddy Bradley both did well when coming off the bench.
James Kielt came to prominence in the second half when he scored the vital goal and also picked off two points.
Playing against a stiff breeze in the first half, Derry withdrew men into their own half in the hope of frustrating their hosts on a beautifully sunny day.
Andy Moran and Tom Parsons had Mayo two points on the board after six minutes, but Barry McGoldrick found his range in a very good first half performance, kicking two scores (one a free) to level matters.
Seamus Bradley then turned and kicked a lovely score off his left boot, though Alan Dillon quickly equalised after Barry McGuigan was shown the yellow card.
Barry McGoldrick put Derry back in front but they were dealt another setback with Patsy Bradley's booking, which led to Dillon flicking over the free.
Andy Moran swung over a brilliant '45' before Fergal Doherty marked his new captaincy with a terrific point eleven minutes from half-time to make the score 0-05 each.
An Alan Dillon pointed free two minutes later turned out to be the last score of the half, but Brian g McAlary became the third Derry man booked right on half-time to send Derry in three men and one point worse off than when the game started.
Peadar Gardiner was given too much space to kick Mayo's seventh point but then came Kielt's quick 1-01 burst, his goal putting Derry 1-06 to 0-07 up.
With the tempo increasing, Mayo fought back and Conor Mortimer and Ronan McGarrity raised white flags to level the score at 0-09 to 1-06 in the 55th minute.
However Derry came strong in the final ten minutes, Paul Cartin starting the purple patch by showing his fitness to plough through and kick the lead score.
Kielt added to it from 40 metres and Paul Young put a goal between them with a left wing effort.
Mayo tried to engineer a goal but the Derry defence kept them away from the danger zone and Conor Mortimer could only drive over a late free and Derry were able to celebrate a deserved victory.
The Derry scorers were - James Kielt (1-02, 0-01 free), Barry McGoldrick (0-03 frees), Paul Cartin, Fergal Doherty, Paul Young, Eoin Bradley and Seamus Bradley (0-01 each).
The Mayo scorers were - Alan Dillon (0-03 frees); Andy Moran (0-02, 0-01 '45'), Conor Mortimer (0-02 frees), Peadar Gardiner, Ronan McGarrity and Tom Parson 0-01 each.
DERRY - Shane McGuckin; Brian g McAlary, Joe O'Kane, Ryan Dillon; Paul Cartin, Barry McGuigan, Chrissy McKaigue; Fergal Doherty, Patsy Bradley; Enda Lynn, Barry McGoldrick, Sean Leo McGoldrick; James Kielt , Eoin Bradley, Seamus Bradley; Replacements - Gerard O'Kane for Barry McGuigan (14 mins); Joe Diver for Patsy Bradley (20 mins), Paul Young for Brian Og McAlary (35 mins), Paddy Bradley for Seamus Bradley (43 mins), Brian Mullan for Barry McGoldrick (51mins), Dermot McBride for Ryan Dillon (64 mins).
MAYO - David Clarke; Liam O'Malley, Gerard Cafferky, Donal Vaughan; Peadar Gardiner , Tom Cuniffe, Pat Kelly; Tom Parsons, Ronan McGarrity; Billy Joe Padden, Trevor Mortimer, Alan Dillon; Andy Moran, Barry Moran, Michael Sweeney; Replacements - Pat Harte for Ronan McGarrity (48 mins); Conor Mortimer for Billy Joe Padden (48 mins); Aidan O'Shea for Trevor Mortimer (52 mins); Mark Ronaldson for Michael Sweeney (64 mins); Kevin McLaughlin for Donal Vaughan (69 mins).
Referee - Maurice Deegan (Laois).