Second half surge sees Dublin drive home their advantage

GAA: Casey's Call

A fistful of Keegan: Con O'Callaghan and Lee Keegan battle for the ball last Saturday. Photo: Sportsfile

A fistful of Keegan: Con O'Callaghan and Lee Keegan battle for the ball last Saturday. Photo: Sportsfile

As clichés go 'a game of two halves' could not be more appropriate after Dublin's 3-14 to 1-10 win over Mayo last weekend in the first of the All Ireland semi-finals.

After such an encouraging opening 35 minutes from Mayo, James Horan's team succumbed to the might of the five-in-a-row chasing Dublin in what can only be described as a devastating second half performance by Jim Gavin's men.

Mayo played superbly in the opening 35 minutes, going in at half time leading the the All Ireland champions by 0-8 to 0-6. As a unit, Mayo were outstanding. Defensively we had Dublin sussed, Paddy Durcan was doing to Jack McCaffrey what he did to Ryan McHugh the previous week, putting him on the back foot and troubling the umpires into waving the white flag for two superb points.

James Horan and his management obviously targeted Con O'Callaghan as the big threat and pitted their go-to man, Lee Keegan, in direct contact with the Cuala star. The midfield sector was congested, Mayo were dominating and Dublin's big names were nowhere to be seen as Aidan O'Shea and his crew went about their business - tackling, harassing and frustrating Dublin all over the field.

During the first half Mayo's defending was of the highest order - Brendan Harrision and Matthew Ruane took the ball off Jack McCaffrey in the 29th minute when he was closing in on Rob Hennelly's goal, it lifted the roof off the place with the huge Mayo crowd roaring their approval. Colm Boyle pinged an outrageous point with the outside of his right boot four minutes from the break - then Aidan O'Shea superbly took the ball off Brian Fenton in the 33rd minute to set up Paddy Durcan for an inspirational score.

Back in the 12th minute James Carr waltzed around Michael Fitzsimons to score like he was playing with his mates in a playground in Ardagh. This was dreamland stuff, Mayo were on top in every sector and leading by two points at the break - if only the final whistle was blown then.

The second half was a blur. Dublin returned to the field a different team, Mayo had poked the bear and the bear decided it was time to hit back. What followed was as good as anything that we have witnessed on the hallowed turf in Croke Park.

From being two points down, Dublin had the game won by the 47th minute - they reeled off 2-6 without reply in a scintillating 12 minute period, it was sensational stuff. Mayo were in shock and caught in a sky blue blitzkrieg, it was hard to comprehend that Mayo were ten points down so quickly after being in a commanding position.

The scene was something like that when Cork were beating Dublin with 20 minutes to go in the first round of the Super 8s this year. With 15 minutes to go in that game Dublin had the -10 point spread covered, they are that good. It was Mayo who were on the raging end of a Dublin Tsunami this time around.

Paddy Durcan's efforts that were finding their target in the first half were all of a sudden dropping short or going wide. Con O'Callaghan and Paul Mannion decided to come out and play in the second half and Mayo didn't get their first score in the half until Lee Keegan's deft finish over Stephen Cluxton in the 52nd minute - but by that stage the game was well and truly over.

Sometimes you just have to accept it. Sometimes you just have to tip your cap to your opponents and say well done. This was the case last Saturday. Dublin are an unreal outfit and probably unstoppable. Good luck to Kerry trying to deal with them in the final.

Hard work gets its just rewards

It was hard to get a good story out of Croke Park last Saturday but the sight of Tom Parsons running onto the field in a Mayo jersey in a competitive game of that magnitude was nothing short of astonishing. Many thought he might not even play again for the club never mind at elite level. What he has put himself through in the last 15 months should be an inspiration for anyone that feels achievements are beyond their capabilities. Tom got a well deserved ovation from both sets of supporters and I can only tip my cap to him for all his hard work paying off.

Minors' journey comes to an end while the Ladies are heading back to HQ

Things didn't work out for our minor lads either in Croke Park, where they were well beaten by Cork in the semi-final. While it was a disappointing way for them to end the season - they have a Connacht medal in their back pockets and have been involved in some brilliant games of football over the season. They also got to play eight championship matches this year, that's a phenomenal amount of experience for such young players to gain over a summer and can only be good for them going on in their footballing careers.

There was one bright spot in the results last Saturday with the Mayo Ladies booking their place in the All Ireland semi-final in Croke Park, following a hard fought win over Armagh in Longford. That win has set Mayo up amazingly for their third game against Galway in this year's championship - having drawn the Connacht final - the Tribeswomen got the better of Mayo in the reply in Limerick on the day that the men dumped Galway out of the championship. The wide open spaces of Croke Park will be something that Mayo's potent forward line will be looking forward to having another crack at against Galway on Sunday week.

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