Donegal supporters in Castlebar
Donegal's dream is over for 2019 after Mayo proved a bridge too far in Elverys MacHale Park, Castlebar on Saturday evening.
In difficult underfoot conditions Donegal made just too many mistakes and when they had enough possession in the second half they kicked it away with 10 wides and a number of shots dropping short.
They can have no complaints as Mayo dominated the opening half and should have been out of sight. Donegal could only manage four first half points and the rate of turnovers throughout the match showed the greater hunger displayed by Mayo.
A second half penalty from Michael Murphy gave Donegal hope, but overall they were chasing this game for long periods and in the end just didn't deserve any more. They just didn't have the composure necessary in the hostile atmosphere of MacHale Park in the final quarter when chances were available.
Donegal started without Neil McGee while Keith Higgins and Patrick Durcan were back for Mayo.
While Donegal started well with two points in two minutes, the first half was their most laboured 35 minutes of football of the entire championship.
Patrick McBrearty put them ahead with just over a minute on the clock, taking a pass from Eamonn Doherty. And then Michael Murphy put Niall O'Donnell in for a second point.
But thereafter Mayo seemed to be first to every ball. Lee Keegan took up marking duty on Michael Murphy and Patrick Durcan did the same on Ryan McHugh.
Indeed, Durcan was probably the most influential player of the opening half. He availed of a Shaun Patton mistake, the 'keeper getting turned over and Cillian O'Connor's free dropped short but Durcan fired over.
Then from the kick-out, Patton failed to find his man but he made amends with a great stop but shortly after Mayo levelled through a Cillian O'Connor free.
Donegal lost Justin McGee after just nine minutes, Leo McLoone coming in and they were a point down on 13 mintues when Darren Coen sent Chris Barrett clear to point.
Mayo lost Keith Higgins to a black card after he hauled down Patrick McBrearty. Michael Murphy levelled from the free.
Then Mayo took control with Jason Doherty firing over from 46m and James Carr added another from an awkward angle.
Donegal had a goal chance on 26 minutes when a poor Hennelly kick-out was fielded by McBrearty. He found Ryan McHugh but his pass to Jamie Brennan didn't connect and the chance was gone.
Patrick Durcan won a free for Cillian O'Connor to open the gap to three and on 28 minutes that lead was doubled when an effort for a point from Jason Doherty dropped short and Cillian O'Connor got in front of Paddy McGrath to palm past Shaun Patton.
An off the ball foul on Jamie Brennan by Brendan Harrison was punished by Murphy but before half-time Patrick Durcan had added his second point to leave Mayo comfortably ahead by 1-7 to 0-4 at the break.
Niall O'Donnell hit a great point for Donegal from a very awkward angle on the restart but Andy Moran released James Carr to counter at the other end.
But then another turning point as a high ball from Ciaran Thompson saw Michael Murphy win a penalty off Lee Keegan and Murphy tucked the penalty away.
Almost immediately there was handbags with Hugh McFadden booked for colliding with Aidan O'Shea.
Kevin McLoughlin pointed with his first touch but Donegal had momentum and points from Dáire Ó Baoill, Patrick McBrearty and Michael Murphy cut the lead to one.
In between those points Shaun Patton made another great stop, denying Andy Moran when he was clean through.
But that man Patrick Durcan popped up with his third and Cillian O'Connor pointed a free to leave three between them - 1-11 to 1-8 - with ten minutes left.
Dáire Ó Baoill cut the lead but Donegal were beginning to amass wides with Murphy and Michael Langan off target.
Donegal butchered another good chance with Patrick McBrearty dropping his effort short. Andy Moran won a free at the other end for Cillian O'Connor to point but Michael Murphy replied as seven minutes of added time was announced.
Then up stepped Andy Moran to hit two points and push Mayo four clear while Donegal continued to add to their wides tally which was to reach 14 before David Gough's final whistle.
It was a disappointing end to the journey, coming at the same stage as a year earlier against Tyrone. Conditions and injuries didn't help them, but overall they can have no complaints and will have to learn to compete better in the physical stakes to advance further.
Scorers - Donegal: Michael Murphy 1-4,pen,2f; Niall O'Donnell 0-2; Dáire Ó Baoill 0-2; Patrick McBrearty 0-2.
Mayo: Cillian O'Connor 1-4,4f; Paddy Durcan 0-3; James Carr, Andy Moran 0-2 each; Chris Barrett, Jason Doherty, Kevin McLoughlin 0-1 each.
DONEGAL: Shaun Patton; Paddy McGrath, Eamonn Doherty, Stephen McMenamin; Ryan McHugh, Dáire Ó Baoill, Odhrán McFadden Ferry; Hugh McFadden, Jason McGee; Ciaran Thompson, Niall O'Donnell, Jamie Brennan; Patrick McBrearty, Michael Murphy, Michael Langan. Subs: Leo McLoone for J McGee 10; Paul Brennan for E Doherty 32; Caolan Ward for P McGrath 41; Oisin Gallen for Thompson 55; Eoin McHugh for Brennan bcard 63;Eoghan McGettigan for Langan 72
MAYO: Robbie Hennelly; Chris Barrett, Brendan Harrison, Keith Higgins; Lee Keegan, Colm Boyle, Stephen Coen; Aidan O'Shea, Seamus O'Shea; Fionn McDonagh, Jason Doherty, Patrick Durcan; Cillian O'Connor, Darren Coen, James Carr. Subs: Eoin O'Donoghue for K Higgins bcard 15; Andy Moran for Coen 25; Kevin McLoughlin for J Doherty 45; Fergal Boland for Carr 65; Matthew Ruane for S O'Shea 70; James Durcan for C O'Connor 75
REFEREE: David Gough (Meath)
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