GAA Editor @BrianGBarry
Mayo 3-11 Kerry 2-10: Mayo seal historic league title
Last Updated: 01/04/19 7:28am
Mayo are Allianz Football League champions, after beating Kerry 3-11 to 2-10 at Croke Park.
James Horan's second coming as manager is off to the perfect start, as the Connacht side secured their first national title since 2001. As 'The Green and Red of Mayo' rang around Croke Park at full-time, this team who suffered so much heartache in recent years turned it emphatically around, overcoming a four-point half-time deficit to secure a famous victory.
The first half was an even affair, as both teams looked for breakthroughs. It was Mayo who enjoyed the better start, finding gaps in the Kerry defence. However, when a golden opportunity presented itself, Donal Vaughan failed to take advantage as goalkeeper Shane Ryan was equal to it.
Up the other end, Kerry made no such mistake. First, it was Gavin Crowley who found the net after a meandering run through by David Clifford in the 13th minute. Another 13 minutes passed, and Stephen O'Brien made a blistering run straight through the Mayo half and blasted it past Rob Hennelly for another goal.
While the Connacht side kept chipping away at the Kingdom's lead, Peter Keane's charges went in at the break with a deserved four-point cushion.
Whatever James Horan said at half-time, it certainly had its desired effect as Mayo came storming out in the second half, scoring the first three points. James Carr and Darren Coen started having a greater impact on proceedings, as the gap was reduced to just one.
However, the Kingdom quickly responded with three of their own to restore the four-point gap.
Just as Kerry were restoring order, Mayo broke up the field, and Matthew Ruane fired it past Shane Ryan in the Kerry goal to make it a one-point game.
Mayo grew more and more into the game, and they seized momentum which prompted deafening roars from their travelling support. They drew level through a Jason Doherty free, and took the lead on 57 minutes through a Diarmuid O'Connor long-range score.
Although the Kingdom hung in there, it was all Mayo. On the stroke of 65 minutes, they landed the knockout blow. A long, high ball in from Patrick Durcan dropped in on the edge of the square, and captain Diarmuid O'Connor got his glove to it ahead of Shane Ryan, fisting it into the net.
Aidan O'Shea's dismissal for a second yellow card wasn't to deny the Connacht side, as they held out for a famous win with Ciarán Treacy sealing the victory with a last-minute goal.
After so many narrow misses in the past, this Mayo team weren't to be denied. As the thousands of Mayo fans depart Croker with smiles on their faces, there is a sense that maybe, just maybe this will be Mayo's year.
Referee: Fergal Kelly (Longford)
Scorers for Mayo: Diarmuid O'Connor 1-2, Matthew Ruane 1-1, James Carr 0-2 (0-1 mark), Jason Doherty 0-2 (0-1 free), Fergal Boland 0-2, Patrick Durcan 0-1, Darren Coen 0-1.
Scorers for Kerry: Seán O'Shea 0-5 (0-5 frees), Gavin Crowley 1-1, Stephen O'Brien 1-0, David Clifford 0-2, Jack Barry 0-1, Paul Geaney 0-1.
1. Robert Hennelly
2. Chris Barrett
3. Brendan Harrison
4. Keith Higgins
5. Patrick Durcan
6. Lee Keegan
7. Donal Vaughan
8. Matthew Ruane
9. Aidan O'Shea
10. Fergal Boland
11. Jason Doherty
12. Diarmuid O'Connor
13. Kevin McLoughlin
14. Darren Coen
15. James Carr
Andy Moran for Darren Coen (51st minute)
Colm Boyle for Donal Vaughan (58th minute)
Evan Regan for James Carr (62nd minute)
Ciarán Treacy for Jason Doherty (67th minute)
1. Shane Ryan
2. Peter Crowley
3. Jack Sherwood
4. Graham O'Sullivan
5. Gavin Crowley
6. Paul Murphy
7. Tom O'Sullivan
8. Jack Barry
9. Diarmuid O'Connor
10. Dara Moynihan
11. Seán O'Shea
12. Stephen O'Brien
13. David Clifford
14. Tommy Walsh
15. Kevin McCarthy
James O'Donoghue for Dara Moynihan (half-time)
Jason Foley for Jack Sherwood (38th minute)
Mark Griffin for Kevin McCarthy (41st minute)
Paul Geaney for Tommy Walsh (54th minute)
Gavin O'Brien for Gavin Crowley (66th minute)