Rangers used an early 1-4 to zero lead to take the points against a battling Mayo side in this intermediate football match at Gaelic Park on Sunday.
Despite being behind by so much and also having a numbers disadvantage, Mayo fought back and gave Rangers a freight over the final 40 minutes.
Robbie Moran was terrific in open play for Mayo and also from frees, but an impeccable performance from Conor Hunter with a goal in each half led the Blues to victory.
Rangers started on fire with a bullet goal from Hunter when he sped in on the left wing and gave Dean Doherty no chance. Four further points in succession made it look as if the game would be a run away. Mike McCarthy had a brace from distance in the mix.
Mayo slowly fought back, and they had three of the next four points with Moran annexing all from frees. They were making full use of their slim chances with high percentage kicking.
They could have been even closer, but Moran’s penalty was easily saved by Mike Sheridan 14 minutes in when a foot block was the crime.
Mayo continued to battle, with Moran, Mike Creegan and Colm O’Neill all effective in open play as the half closed. They had four points to Rangers three to leave the interval scoreline at 1-8 to 0-7.
Mayo continued their good play as the second half opened with a further two points. Tom Niland had the first from play while Moran followed with a free when he was fouled. It came at the end of a throw up when Dave Colleran and John Power were shown straight reds for their second personal alteration of the game.
But all of Mayo’s good work was quickly nullified when Rangers scored their second goal of the game. Ronan Caffrey was set free in the inside left position and he quickly found McCarthy who dispatched the ball easily to the net. From the resultant kickout Rangers attacked again and Caffrey made it 2-9 to 0-9.
Moran did have another free in what was a brilliant performance from the former New York captain, but a scoring flurry of 1-4 for Rangers, with Hunter getting his second goal with a cracking drive that started with Sheridan pulling the ball from the sky in front of the Rangers goal and quickly moved forward, was too much to overcome.
Hunter also had two points in his man of the match performance in this segment.
O’Grady and Hatzer swapped scores to end the game, but the goals had done enough for Rangers.
Mike Sheridan continues to enjoy his new role as keeper. His catch and go made the goal possible and his handling is excellent. Derek Courtney, and Liam Hanley were efficient at the back, although the way Mayo came back will give Dennis Twomey cause for concern.
Dean Murphy faired okay in the middle while Conor Hunter was outstanding up front. He is a live wire. Adding him to the county panel already looks like a step in the right direction.
Mike McCarthy had his best day in a while, and Ronan Caffrey kicked six very good points.
Mayo clawed their way back and must be commended as they did it short handed throughout. Robbie Moran was tremendous. He gave Donnacha O’Dwyer a torrid afternoon.
Seamus Ward, Tom Huvane, John Costello and Tom Niland were others to lead the gallant fight back.
Rangers: 1 Mike Sheridan, 2 Malachy McHugh, 4 Donnacha O’Dwyer, 5 Derek Courtney, 6 Liam Hanley, 7 Pat O’Driscoll, 8 John Power (0-1), 9 Dean Murphy, 10 Kevin Daly, 11 Mike McCarthy (1-2), 12 Conor Hunter (2-3), 13 Ronan Caffrey (0-6), 15 Kieran Moran. Subs: Cathal Hatzer (0-1), Bernard Madden, Paul Reynolds, Danny Moriarty.
Mayo: 1 Dean Doherty, 2 Tom Huvane, 4 Sean Brady, 5 Colm O’Neill, 6 Seamus Ward (0-2), 7 Dave Barlow, 8 Robbie Moran (0-6), 9 Dave Colleran, 10 John Costello, 11 Mike Creegan, 12 Tom Niland (0-2), 13 Aiden O’Grady (0-1).
Referee: Paddy Gormley.
Man of the match: Conor Hunter (Rangers).