Mayo have taken another step towards making a swift return to Division 1 of the National Football League, with a 0-21 to 2-12 win over Westmeath.
James Horan’s charges backed up last week’s victory over Down with a hard-fought result in Mullingar.
Looking to bounce back their opening loss to neighbours Meath, Westmeath dug deep and led by a point at half-time. However, the reigning Connacht champions’ class and depth was telling as they turned it around after the break.
?❤Allianz League Division 2 North
Mayo 0-21 Westmeath 2-12 ?❤ pic.twitter.com/nyFJGj0OuG
The Lake County made a dream start, with Luke Loughlin finding the net for the first score of the game. The Westmeath forward reacted quickly when a Ronan O’Toole effort came off the post to collect possession, round Rob Hennelly and put the ball in the net.
The Connacht champions then settled, with a pair of points from both Matthew Ruane and Conor Loftus helping them regain the lead.
However, there was a twist before the break as Diarmuid O’Connor was sent to the sin-bin and conceded a penalty for bringing down Ronan Wallace. John Heslin tucked it in from the penalty spot.
Heslin then added further points, as Westmeath led 2-5 to 0-10 at the break.
Ronan O’Toole and Tommy Conroy traded scores after the restart. Two Cillian O’Connor frees then put Mayo back into the lead after his brother returned to the field, and Mayo led 0-13 to 2-6 at the second water-break.
The 2020 Footballer of the Year nominee then added another, as the Westerners continued to pressure their hosts. Paddy Durcan and Bryan Walsh pointed either side of a Ray Connellan score, to build a three-point Mayo lead.
Hennelly denied Brandon Kelly from close range, but two converted 45s from Loughlin in quick succession brought Westmeath back into reach of their visitors.
But as the Leinster outfit asked questions of the 2020 All-Ireland finalists, Mayo’s experienced stars stepped up. Kevin McLoughlin and Paddy Durcan tagged on scores to remain in the lead.
Westmeath continued to chip away through Kieran Martin and Heslin. But the accuracy of O’Connor ultimately steered Mayo over the line as they held out for a three-point victory.
NFL Division 2 North
Westmeath: Jason Daly; James Dolan, Kevin Maguire, Boidu Sayeh; Sam McCartan, Ronan Wallace, Jamie Gonoud; Sam Duncan, Ray Connellan (0-1); David Lynch, Denis Corroon, Ger Egan (0-1); Ronan O’Toole (0-1, 0-1 mark), John Heslin (1-6, 1-0 penalty, 0-4 frees), Luke Loughlin (1-2, 0-2 ’45).
Subs: Fola Ayorinde for Denis Corroon (45th minute), Brandon Kelly for Sam Duncan (53rd minute), Conor Slevin for David Lynch (64th minute), Kieran Martin (0-1) for Sam McCartan (67th minute), for Ger Egan (70th minute).
Mayo: Rob Hennelly; Ben Doyle, Oisin Mullin, Lee Keegan; Michael Plunkett, Paddy Durcan (0-3), Eoghan McLaughlin (0-1); Matthew Ruane (0-2), Diarmuid O’Connor; Fionn McDonagh, Conor Loftus (0-2), Jordan Flynn (0-1); Tommy Conroy (0-1), Cillian O’Connor (0-8, 0-7 frees), Ryan O’Donoghue (0-1, 0-1 mark).
Subs: Colm Boyle for Ben Doyle (half-time), Bryan Walsh for Fionn McDonagh (half-time), Kevin McLoughlin (0-1) for Jordan Flynn (half-time), Fergal Boland for Conor Loftus (52nd minute), Rory Brickenden for Eoghan McLaughlin (60th minute), Aiden Orme for Tommy Conroy (64th minute), Jack Carney for Diarmuid O’Connor (70th minute).
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