Following the fortunes of the Mayo football team has been described on more than one occasion as a like riding a roller coaster. There have been plenty of dips along the way this season, so the high of Saturday night is something the 10,000 plus in attendance in McHale Park will remember as we head into summer. Coming into this game on the back of three losses on the bounce and facing the All Ireland champions on paper it was never going to be an easy task. But Mayo made it look easy, not because it was. But through hard work, determination and endeavor from one end of the field to the other. Everyone played their part from David Clarke in goal to Conor Mortimer who kicked points for fun, it was a performance that according to Andy Moran after the game was coming. “I can't control what people think, all we can control is what's said inside there (the dressing room ) as James said before the game, we know we're playing well so why not go out and play. Everyone focused on the negatives last week, but we scored 12 of our 13 points from play, which is not something you see to often. I thought we had a very encouraging performance bar the last seven or eight minutes and we were happy and confident enough coming in tonight and I think it showed.”
Mayo wasted no time in the blinding sunshine in McHale Park getting going, Michael Conroy who held onto his spot in the corner got things going with a fine free after being played in by a quick free from Andy Moran. Six minutes later he doubled Mayo's lead after Jason Doherty who had just come on as a blood sub for Conor Mortimer won the ball and played in the Davitts man who applied a composed finish.
Bryan Cullen kicked the first point for the visitors on eight minutes, when he outpaced Shane McHale down the flank. But Mayo weren't in the mood to allow the All Ireland champions get foot hold in the game. Alan Dillon and Conor Mortimer both kicked two points each as Mayo went into a 0-6 to 0-3 lead after 16 minutes, with the Dublin points coming from Paddy Andrews and Bryan Cullen.
Aidan O'Shea kicked Mayo's seventh point of the of the contest with a monster effort from around 45 meters out, his effort was followed by six on the trot from Mayo in 14 minutes putting them into a ten point lead with two minutes left in the half. Mortimer kicked three of those six, with Dillon, Conroy and Barry Moran chipping in with one each. In the middle of that run of half a dozen points, David Clarke pulled of a top class save from Kevin Nolan after the wing back got on the end of a flowing Dublin mood, but the Ballina man was more than up to the task. Dublin did pull two points back before the turn around with Tomás Quinn kicking two frees to leave it 0-13 to 0-5 at the break and Dublin would be playing with the aid of a very strong breeze.
But it was a case of more of the same once the second half started, Donal Vaughan bust through to kick the first point of the half. The Aidan O'Shea who put in a man of the match performance in the middle of the park, waltzed through the Dublin defence only to see Stephen Cluxton save his effort. Conor Mortimer kicked over a free given to Mayo after Cluxton was adjudged to have picked the ball off the ground outside of the small square after saving O'Shea's shot. Two minutes later, Vaughan's second point had Mayo eleven points clear as the sun began to set and Mayo began to cruise home. Mayo's cause was aided when Paul Flynn was shown a straight red card after a clash with Colm Boyle and he was followed to an early by team mate Diarmuid Connolly with 12 minutes to go when he was shown a second yellow card. Mayo coasted home through out the second half and more than comfortably seeing off the little threat that Dublin showed. With two of the younger generation, Shane McHale and Kevin Keane looking more than comfortable in defence, while Keith Higgins and Donal Vaughan were as liable to pop up in attack as they were defence. There were flashes that Alan Dillon was coming back into the kind of form that has made him one of the games top forwards, his last point in particular was a real score of beauty on the run down the flank. But the history books will remember tonight for more than just Mayo beating the All Ireland champions, it was also the night that Conor Mortimer wrote himself into history becoming Mayo's all time leading scorer an achievement the Parnells man could hold for quite a long time to come.
Mayo: C Mortimer (0-8, 5f ), A Dillon (0-4 ), M Conroy (0-4 ), D Vaughan (0-2 ), A O'Shea (0-1 ), B Moran (0-1 )
Dublin: T Quinn (0-2, 2f ), B Cullen (0-2 ),P Andrews (0-1 ), D Connolly (0-1,1f ), D Rock (0-1 ), G Brennan (0-1 ).
Mayo: D Clarke; K Keane, S McHale, K Higgins; L Keegan, D Vaughan, C Boyle, A O'Shea, D Geraghty; K McLoughlin, A Moran, A Dillon; C Mortimer, B Moran, M Conroy. Subs: J Doherty for C Mortimer (blood sub ) (4 mins ); P Gardiner for C Boyle (blood sub ) (40 mins ); J Doherty for C Mortimer (blood sub ) (45 mins ); J Doherty for B Moran (58 mins ); P Gardiner for D Vaughan (58 mins ), C O'Connor for M Conroy (64 mins ), A Campbell for A Dillon (66 mins ), J Gibbons for D Geraghty (66 mins )
Dublin: S Cluxton; D Daly, R O'Carroll, G Brennan; J McCarthy, C O'Sullivan, K Nolan; R McConnell, M D MacAuley; P Brogan, P Andrews, B Cullen; T Quinn, D Connolly, K McManamon. Subs:P Flynn for P Brogan (25 mins ), C Dias for J McCarthy (HT ), E Fennell for R McConnell (HT ), D Kelly for T Quinn, D Rock for P Andrews (53 mins )
Ref: Michael Duffy (Sligo )