There was plenty entertainment for the 21,156 who paid into Croke Park on Saturday night, but Mayo left GAA headquarters knowing that they left two league points behind them. When Ger Brennan was given a straight red card 41 minutes in for a kick and an elbow that could see him out for a long time, Mayo had cut the gap to a single point after they were trailing by three at the break and were on the up. By the 45th minute they had pushed themselves two points ahead but then they collapsed for 20 minutes and Bernard Brogan and Kevin McManamon tore into the Mayo full back line. Brogan in particular was mesmeric. The St Oliver Plunkett's man finished with 1-10 to his name for the 70 minutes and capped his scoring efforts off with a pointed sideline from out under the Cusack Stand.
Dublin tore into Mayo from the off and were 0-3 to 0-1 up after five minutes, Brogan kicking all the scores two from frees that he was fouled for himself and another from play. Aidan O'Shea kicked Mayo's first point eight minutes in after a mazy run down the left hand side of the field. Dublin were dominant in midfield early on and putting Mayo under severe pressure. But on the ten minute mark Jason Gibbons and Barry Moran began to find their feet and Mayo went on six minute run where the scored five unanswered points. Doherty pointed two frees on the bounce, with Enda Varley and Lee Keegan both landing scores, before Doherty hit a monster of point from the right hand side of the field. With 15 minutes left in the half, Brogan kicked another point with McManamon blowing a goal scoring chance shortly afterwards. The gap was cut back to a single score when Brogan got in between Ger Cafferkey and Kenneth O'Malley to flick the ball over the bar from 13 meters out 27 minutes in and a minute later Cian O'Sullivan had the game all square once again with a close range point after Brogan had done the donkey work. With half an hour on the clock Brogan put the metropolitans back in front from another free and that lead was extended to two a minute later when Paddy Andrews got his first of the evening. Three minutes before the break, the goal that Dublin were threatening finally arrived from the man of the night Brogan, who played an assist in his own goal. A long ball from Darren Daly was flicked on by Brogan to Paul Flynn, who passed it on again to Brogan who had kept moving and he finished the ball to the back of the net to put his side up by 0-6 to 1-8. Mayo got a couple of scores back before the break through Varley and Michael Conroy to cut the gap to just three.
The half time break seemed to do Mayo the world of good and inside the first three minutes of the restart a Doherty free and a point from Keegan cut the gap to one, before the Burrishoole man leveled the game up after 39 minutes. Dublin responded through a McManamon point before Brennan saw red after what looked like a kick at a Mayo player on the deck followed by a elbow to the throat of Donal Vaughan seconds later. Kevin McLoughlin pointed from the resulting free and kicked another one from play seconds later, which was quickly followed by a Doherty point to put Mayo 0-14 to 1-9 up with 25 minutes to go and looking a good bet to go on and take the points.
But what happened next was not in that script. Dublin scored 1-4 without reply over the next 19 minutes as Mayo to all intents and purposes looked like the side down to 14 men. Kevin McManamon scored the goal when he charged down the Hogan Stand side of the field after being left one on one with Keith Higgins who couldn't haul him down as he's already got a yellow card. Before that goal, Mayo had two lucky escapes first when Kenneth O'Malley saved a Stephen Cluxton penalty after Donal Vaughan tripped Paddy Andrews in the 46th minute and 60 seconds later the Ballinrobe man had to pull off a smart save from McManamon.
Mayo finally got back on the scoreboard when Lee Keegan was put through for a glorious goal chance but drove his shot high over the bar on 64 minutes and three minutes later Seamus O'Shea screwed his effort wide on the near side, when he had Jason Doherty wide open in a better position. McLoughlin and Brogan traded points in the final few minutes as the Dubs, held on but Mayo will know they left this behind them and next Saturday nights game against Down is a must win one for them now.
Dublin: S Cluxton; K O'Brien, J Cooper, R O'Carroll; J McCaffrey, G Brennan, D Daly; D O'Mahony, C O'Sullivan; P Flynn, T Brady, C Reddin; C Kilkenny, P Andrews, B Brogan. Subs: K McManamon for T Brady (19 mins ) D Nelson for R O'Carroll (HT ), B Cullen for C Reddin (51 ), P Quinn for C Kilkenny (60 ), N Devereux for J McCaffrey (64 )
Mayo: K O'Malley; C Barrett, G Cafferkey, K Higgins; L Keegan, D Vaughan, C Boyle; J Gibbons, B Moran; K McLoughlin, A O'Shea, R Feeney; E Varley, J Doherty, M Conroy. Subs: C Carolan for J Gibbons (44 ), S O'Shea for B Moran (51 ), T Cunniffe for R Feeney (60 )