Mayo manager Peter Leahy insisted his side have not gone away after they pushed the Lidl National Football League and TG4 All-Ireland champions close at Croke Park.
With Rachel Kearns and Fiona Doherty on song Mayo fired three early goals against Dublin, but Mick Bohan’s side registered a strong second-half under pressure to kick on to the win.
But Leahy said he was happy that his inexperienced side pushed them hard and they will continue to fight with the top teams.
“We had six or seven players who were making their Mayo debuts on the soil that is Croke Park. That’s exciting for those players and it’s exciting for the county. But it’s going to take time. Mayo are not finished. We have not gone away. We are still there fighting away,” said Leahy.
“The result itself is not the end of the world. It’s a building process for us.”
For Bohan it was a case of the result trumping his side’s early slack defending.
“It was up and down. We were really shaky defensively. We didn’t finish as well as we could. We were reacting to what Mayo were doing rather than taking the initiative ourselves,” said Bohan.
Yet I felt once we settled we took a grip on the game. Some parts of our performance were excellent. We played at times with pace, and our foot-passing was good.
Meanwhile, Donegal maintained their perfect start to their campaign as the Ulster champions soared to victory over Monaghan in Letterkenny on Sunday.
Roisin Friel’s early goal saw Donegal lead 1-8 to 0-2 at half-time with the hosts well in command. Midway through the second half, Julie Trearty drilled in a second Donegal goal, and manager Maxi Curran was pleased to earn the win.
“We kicked 1-8 on the bounce and that was the winning of the game for us,” said Curran.
“We didn’t attack with the same gusto after that, but we had the job done. We remained tight at the back and it was very tricky to get through.”
Galway have also started the season brightly as goals from Roisin Leonard, Tracey Leonard and Aoife Thompson gave them a third straight win at Clonberne.
Goals from Anna Jones and Annie Dolan gave Westmeath hope, but the home side dominated.
“It was a super half first from us. I thought we were excellent,” said Galway manager Tim Rabbitte.
“This time of year we are looking for hard work, attitude and honesty and we showed that from the off. Left a lot of scores after us but that’s what we are working on in the training ground, we are delighted to come away with the win.”
At Pairc Uí Rinn on Saturday, Aishling Moloney did the big damage with a 2-9 haul, but debutant Caitlin Kennedy fired the winner as Tipperary shocked last year’s All-Ireland finalists, Cork.
“We were quietly confident coming up that we had a good chance,” said Tipperary manager Shane Ronyane.
We put Caitlin Kennedy up front, today was her first start and she is just 16-years-of-age and it was a huge boost for her to get the winning goal.
Elsewhere, in Division 2 Armagh are still unbeaten as two goals from Aimee Mackin and a third from Blaithin Mackin saw them claim a 3-14 to 1-8 victory against Waterford.
Wexford inflicted a second loss of the campaign on last year’s TG4 intermediate champions Tyrone, a 1-7 to 0-6 victory for Wexford, while Cavan also earned their first win of the Lidl NFL as they surged past Clare in the closing stages.
Neasa Byrd’s penalty sealed the win for Cavan after Andrea O’Reilly had hauled them back into the game with their first goal with just three minutes remaining. And in Sunday’s game Kerry fired six goals past Laois to earn their first win of the season.
In Division 3 there were wins for Meath over Roscommon, for Sligo away to Down and for Wicklow, who hosted Kildare. Offaly are still looking for their first win of the season after they had to be satisfied with a share of the spoils against Longford.
In Division 4 Antrim hit five goals in victory against Kilkenny, while Limerick picked up the win after their trip to Fermanagh. On Sunday Carlow were too strong for Derry, while Louth edged past Leitrim.
Saturday 23rd February
Lidl National Football League Division 1
Dublin 1-17 Mayo 3-09
Cork 1-18 Tipperary 3-13
Lidl National Football League Division 2;
Wexford 1-07 Tyrone 0-06
Cavan 2-11 Clare 2-08
Waterford 1-08 Armagh 3-14
Lidl National Football League Division 3;
Offaly 2-11 Longford 3-08
Meath 4-15 Roscommon 1-07
Down 2-11 Sligo 3-13
Wicklow 3-08 Kildare 0-12
Lidl National Football League Division 4;
Kilkenny 0-06 Antrim 5-18
Fermanagh 1-09 Limerick 2-08
Lidl National Football League Division 1
Donegal 2-17 Monaghan 0-07
Galway 3-11 Westmeath 2-05
Lidl National Football League Division 2
Laois 2-17 Kerry 6-13
Lidl National Football League Division 4
Derry 0-05 Carlow 5-09
Leitrim 1-08 Louth 2-10
Photo by Ray McManus/Sportsfile