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25th Jan 2020

James Durcan stuns Ballybofey with last kick of the game

Niall McIntyre

Mayo 2-13 Donegal 0-19

Don’t write Mayo off, even when they’re losing by three and time is up.

Donegal played like winners, from pillar to post in this League opener in Ballybofey but when Mayo are involved and we should know this by now, things rarely follow expected or indeed deserved lines.

This time, it was a young gun who snatched a point from the jaws of a dispiriting loss. James Durcan has been on the Mayo periphery for the last few years but he showed the mettle and the clutch we’re accustomed to seeing from his older Paddy here, with the last kick of the ball to end a high-octane contest on the note it had been threatening to reach all night.

From the second Durcan set eyes on ball, the Donegal crowd gasped and the Mayo fans hoped. That man Durcan didn’t let the westerners down as he glided past Conor Morrison’s challenge with serious drive and directness before unleashing a bullet to the top corner of Shaun Patton’s net.

Second viewing told us it was a deflection off a Donegal body but Durcan deserves the benefit of the doubt. He stepped up when it mattered most.

Donegal dominated the early proceedings on their home patch and should have been up by more than two by half-time. Jamie Brennan and Ciaran Thompson were both on form for them but a looping James Carr goal and some good play from Fergal Boland kept Mayo in touch.

In the second half, Donegal began to stretch away with Ryan McHugh and Michael Langan impressing but Diarmuid O’Connor and Tommy Conroy points ensured Mayo had a pulse. When the masterful Murphy put Donegal three up with time almost gone, you felt that was it, but that was when James Durcan entered the arena and came of age.

What a start to the season. Bring on more of it.

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Mayo GAA