Derry rout Mayo to set up potential top of table decider against Donegal

Allianz National Hurling League, Division 2B

By Bernie Mullan
Monday, 28th February 2022, 1:03 pm
Updated Monday, 28th February 2022, 1:04 pm
Derry ‘s Eamon McGill gain possession under pressure from Mayo’s Brian Hunt at Owenbeg on Sunday afternoon last. Photo: George Sweeney. DER2209GS – 002
Derry ‘s Eamon McGill gain possession under pressure from Mayo’s Brian Hunt at Owenbeg on Sunday afternoon last. Photo: George Sweeney. DER2209GS – 002

Derry 4-24, Mayo 1-14

Derry had little difficulty in disposing of a poor Mayo team in round three of the National league at bitterly cold and windy Owenbeg on Sunday afternoon.

In the end Mayo were probably flattered to be just 19 points behind at the last whistle with the only worrying aspect for the Derry management being an injury to Richie Mullan who had been outstanding at centre half back. Fifty minutes into the game he was needlessly pushed over by a Mayo player and had to be helped off the field. At that stage Derry had their third brace of the points in the bag leading by 4-20 to 1-8.

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Derry trio John Mullan, Sean Kelly and Brian Gilligan compete with Mayo’s Keith Higgins for the sliothar at Owenbeg on Sunday afternoon last. Photo: George Sweeney. DER2209GS – 005

Sunday’s clash in Letterkenny against Donegal could well be a league decider after Mickey McCann’s side defeated Wicklow at Aughrim by 2-16 to 3-8. After that Derry finish their programme at home to London on March 20th while Donegal go west to play Mayo.

While the opposition was poor there was a lot to admire about Derry’s style of play, their handling of the sliotar was faultless, their cohesive play excellent and allied to being fitter and stronger than Mayo. Ten Derry players raised flags and the man who usually carried the scoring can captain Cormac O’Doherty contributed six frees.

Derry had four goals but they might well have had a brace more as a disjointed Mayo defence were regularly caught in possession. Derry made one change from the selected line out with Conor Kelly replacing the injured Jerome McGuigan and Kelly helped himself to four points.

Mayo had reliable free takers, among them 35 year old captain and former Mayo football star Keith Higgins looking as sprightly as ever.

Backed by the strong and bitterly cold breeze blowing into the road end Derry were quickly on the case with John Mullan opening the scoring within 10 seconds. With just two minutes gone Cormac O’Doherty and Conor Kelly had hit further points but in the first Mayo attack full forward Ryan Butler sent the ball to the Derry net after a defensive mix up.

Teenager Darragh McGilligan, who had an outstanding game at midfield, put Derry back in front and from there it was just a matter of how much they would win by. By the 12th minute the visitors had scored 1-2 from three chances but Derry were hunting every ball with intent.

Mayo were clinging to the coat tails of the game until midway through the half when John Mullan cut in from the left to give keeper Douglas no chance and a 1-9 to 1-3 lead.

In the 20th minute Darragh McGilligan won a great turnover and from fully 70m split the posts. That was quickly followed by a classy Odhran McKeever score while, on the half hour, O’Doherty made the score 1-9 to 1-3 and Conor Kelly quickly tagged on another point.

On the stroke of half time John Mullan set up club mate McKeever who blasted to the net for a 2-13 to 1-4 interval lead.

Straight from the restart John Mullan set up Sean Kelly to open up a 15 point lead. Mayo’s best player Eoin Delaney took a Sean Kenny pass to send over in a quick reply but any thoughts of a

Mayo comeback were quickly dispelled when Meehaul McGrath made a great run through the Mayo half back line to set up Sean Kelly who hammered the ball past Bobby Douglas.

Seven minutes into the half Deaghlan Foley pointed and did better within seconds. Keeper Douglas lost possession and the Na Magha player was quickly on the scene to slip the ball into an empty net.

At 4-18 to 1-5 Derry were in game management mode with O’Doherty in a more defensive role. With the breeze getting stronger Mayo were getting more possession and more frees putting them to good use. After Conor Kelly had pointed Mayo hit the next five and with ten minutes remaining it was 4-20 to 1-11.

Meehaul McGrath broke the Mayo scoring spell and in a strong finish substitute Fintan Bradley, Odhran McKeever and Cormac O’Doherty put the seal on a most emphatic victory. In three games Derry have scored now 8-62.

Derry scorers: Cormac O’Doherty 0-6f, Deaglan Foley 1-3, Sean Kelly and Odhran McKeever 1-2 each, John Mullan 1-1, Conor Kelly 0-4, Darragh McGilligan 0-3, Ciaran Hendry, Fintan Bradley and Meehaul McGrath 0-1 each.

Mayo scorers: Sean Kenny 0-5,4f, Eoin Delaney 0-4, Ryan Butler 1-0, Keith Higgins 0-2f,Shane Boland 0-1f, Darren Murray and Aoron Kettrick 0-1 each.

Derry: Oisin O‘Doherty, Ciaran Hendry, Mark Craig, Darragh McCloskey, Meehaul McGrath, Richie Mullan, Eamon McGill, Oisin O’Doherty, Darragh McGilligan, Sean Kelly, John Mullan, Conor Kelly, Deaglan Foley, Odhran McKeever, Tiarnan McHugh. (Subs) Brian Og McGilligan for T McHugh inj (17), Fintan Bradley for S Kelly (47), Niall Farren for R Mullan inj.(50), Tiarnan McCloskey for C Kelly (50).

Mayo: Bobby Douglas, Gary Nolan, David Kenny, Daniel Haune, Brian Hunt, Keith Higgins, Conor Murray, Paul Kirwin, Sean Kenny, Eoin Delaney, Adrain Phillips, Patrick Lyons, Conal Hession, Ryan Butler, Shane Boland. (Subs) Aaron Kettrick for R Butler and Danny Hill for D Haune both(46), Darren Murray for S Boland (55), Kealon Gallagher for A Phillips (57) Matthew Walsh for C Murray (61).

Referee: Kevin Parke (Antrim)