No matter what when on in the build up to this game, the simple truth when it came down to the crunch was that Dublin were the better team and won out in the end. The pantomime theatrics of the crowd booing the perceived villain on either side of the debate gave way to a game of football in the end and Dublin were the side who landed the knock-out blows when it mattered most.
Mayo looked to have put themselves in a great position to go on and win the game when Cillian O’Connor managed to swing a leg at the ball in front of Hill 16 and put Mayo 1-11 to 0-10 up with 41 minutes gone. But over the closing 29 minutes, the Dubs outscored Mayo 3-5 to 0-3 and that kind that was all she wrote for Mayo’s interest in this years All Ireland football championship.
The early morning brought news of Diarmuid Connolly’s late night reprieve from the red card he was shown in the dieing embers of last weekends frantic encounter having “availed of the process available” according to Dublin manager Jim Gavin and in truth the St Vincents man was only a bit part player on the day and his involvement had no real impact on the outcome on the field, no matter the wrongs or rights of his availability.
Mayo had their foot on Dublin’s throat after O’Connor’s goal, but they failed to make the chances that presented themselves to them in the next few minutes count, with balls dropping short from shots that should have went over and lapses of concentration seeing the ball turned over when it shouldn’t have been.
Luck had it’s part to play in Dublin’s two goals that killed Mayo, with Bernard Brogan happening to be in the right place in the right time when Brian Fenton looked to have screwed his goal attempt well wide of the target only for Brogan to stick out a foot on the loose ball and send it to the net to level the game up at 1-12 a piece on the 55 minute mark. Two minutes later Mayo got stuck with another sucker punch when Brogan cut along the end line and the ball looked to have been thrown across the face of the goal and into the path Philly McMahon who bundled the ball over the line. Despite the protests of the Mayo defenders and following consultation with his umpires referee Eddie Kinsella awarded the goal. The Laois man had a fine game in the middle, despite fears during the week it could be another tetchy affair after everything that had gone on the week before.
With that the game was done for Mayo, Dublin played keep ball for long periods and Mayo were out on their feet towards the end, with Kevin McManamon’s brilliant goal four minutes from time putting the icing on the cake for Dublin.
The first half was a half paced affair at times, with both sides feeling each other out for long periods as the game played out tactical battle with neither side really willing to show their hand. At the end of the opening period it was tied at ten points each, but the football was far from free flowing. With Mayo pumping a number of aimless balls in on top of Aidan O’Shea that he never really had much chance of winning.
Mayo reused the Barry Moran card from their quarter-final win with the big Castlebar man coming into the game despite not being named in the starting 15. Moran reprised his sweeper role at times in the half and did quite well. Moran was forced into an orthodox midfield role early in the second half when Seamus O’Shea was shown a black card three minutes in after the restart.
As for Mayo it’s back to their clubs now, until January. When hope will Spring eternal once again for the faithful in green and red.
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Dublin: P McMahon (1-02 ), J McCarthy (0-01 ), B Fenton (0-01 ), C Kilkenny (0-02 ), B Brogan (1-01 ), P Andrews (0-05 ), D Rock (0-02, 0-02f ), K McManamon (1-01 )
Mayo: L Keegan (0-01 ), B Moran (0-01 ), D O'Connor (0-02 ), K McLoughlin (0-01 ), C O'Connor (1-06, 0-05f ), A O'Shea (0-01 ), P Durcan (0-01 ), A Moran (0-01, 0-01f )
Dublin: S Cluxton; P McMahon, R O'Carroll, J Cooper; J McCarthy, C O'Sullivan, J McCaffrey; B Fenton, D Bastick; P Flynn, D Connolly, C Kilkenny; B Brogan, P Andrews, D Rock. Subs: MD Macauley for Bastick, M Fitzsimons for Cooper, A Brogan for Flynn, K McManamon for Rock, E Lowndes for Connolly, J Small for B Brogan.
Mayo: R Hennelly; K Higgins, G Cafferkey, C Barrett; D Vaughan, L Keegan, C Boyle; T Parsons, B Moran; D O'Connor, S O'Shea, K McLoughlin; J Doherty, C O'Connor, A O'Shea. Subs: P Durcan for Vaughan, A Moran for S O'Shea (BC ), D Drake for Boyle, S Coen for Parsons, A Freeman for McLoughlin.
Referee: E Kinsella (Laois ).