McLoughlin stars as Mayo fight off spirited NUI Galway




Mayo manager Stephen Rochford with Mayo selectors Sean Carey and Tony McEntee before today`s clash. Image: James Crombie/INPHO




Kevin McLoughlin was the stand out player in the green and red and Mayo`s top scorer scoring 1-4. As new Mayo manager Stephen Rochford secured his first win, after Mayo finally overcame a heroic NUI Galway comeback.

NUI Galway started brighter with Michael Daly heavily involved from centre-forward. Daly laid on the opener for Eoin Finnerty,who cut in from the left wing to land a fine point after a couple of minutes, and in the fourth minute Daly exchanged passes with his club-mate to score while off balance.

NUI Galway continued to bring the game to Mayo and took a 0-3 to 0-0 lead in the sixth minute when Sligo inter-county player Criostoir Davey made the most of his chance with the acres of space given to him.

But the home side finally got themselves going with Tom Parsons and Jason Gibbins gaining a foothold at midfield. Crossmolina clubman Conor Loftus kicked the first score of the Rochford era following a quick free from Kevin McLoughlin and he added a free in the 10th minute to make it 0-3 to 0-2.

McLoughlin has been a consistent player for Mayo, and was one of the best players on the pitch. A couple of frees from the Knockmore forward opened Mayo’s lead out to 0-5 to 0-3, but in the closing six minutes of the half, the students were the more impressive.

Rochford would have been keen to see how one of his likely panellists, Adam Gallagher, fared with his college, and would have been impressed to see the Mayo man Gallagher land three of the last four points of the half for NUI Galway.

The last point of the first period came from Peter Cooke, which helped NUI Galway hold a 0-7 to 0-6 lead at the interval.

NUI Galway picked up from where they left off as Gallagher’s fourth score of the game came six minutes after the restart which pushed the students lead out to two points.

From then on Mayo took control of the game completely and a free from McLoughlin was added to by Mark Ronaldson. McLoughlin was heavily involved in the build up highlighting his work ethic which levelled the scores.

But Mayo struck the game’s first goal when McLoughlin intercepted a handpass out of the NUI Galway defence and rifled the ball home in the 42nd minute. Two quick points from Colm Boyle and Lotfus gave Mayo a five-point lead and things looked to be all over.

But NUI Galway Midfielders Conor O’Shea and Cooke landed impressive points to cut the deficit to three points, and after Brendan Harrison fouled Daly inside the rectangle, Gallagher converted the penalty to level for the students and to tie the game up at 1-10 each.

Determined not to be victims of a possible upset. Mayo showed their experience and class in the dying minutes and after McLoughlin pushed them ahead with a free, goalkeeper Hennelly landed his first from the wing to give Mayo the two-point win. A victory that will help Mayo build on form in pre season going into their league campaign.


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