Mayo have been involved in enough epic semi-finals over the last two years and have come out on the wrong side of the result at the end of the day that Sunday’s performance over Tipperary won’t mind them that much at this stage, with four weeks to put things right before they face either Dublin or Kerry in the final.
And there is much to put right, they got over the line thanks to a ten minute burst at the end of the first half where they outscored Tipperary by 1-7 to 0-1, but they couldn’t kick on in the second half where they only managed to add 1-3 to the scoreboard over the final 41 minutes of action, something similar to that will more than likely see them come up short again on the third Sunday in September.
Mayo’s two goals were the winning of the game and they both came at vital times. Jason Doherty’s 26th minute three pointer saw Mayo pull themselves level just after Conor Sweeney had put Tipperary into a 0-6 to 0-3 lead, after an opening 25 minutes that had seen Mayo struggle to get to the pitch of the game as they adjusted to having Barry Moran in a floating sweeper role to try and curb the arial ability of Michael Quinlivan.
Andy Moran put in another top drawer performance for Mayo for the 62 minutes he was on the field kicking four points from play and when Mayo needed someone to spur them on in their sluggish first half he was the one to put his hand up time after time and demand the ball from his team-mates.
Moran along with Keith Higgins and Aidan O’Shea drove Mayo on in the opening skirmishes of this battle. For Doherty’s goal, Higgins intercepted the ball just around the half way line, played a quick one two with O’Shea before lighting the afterburners and blitzing his way towards the Tipp goal. He held on to the ball until just the right moment before he fed the Burrishoole man who fired it low to the net.
Golden goal: Conor O'Shea celebrates his goal for Mayo. Photo: Sportsfile
Diarmuid O’Connor fired over a great score after some more good play by Higgins and O’Shea to push Mayo into the lead and that was followed by a Kevin McLoughlin point which could have easily found the back of the net if the Knockmore man had kept his shot down. Mayo kept the pressure up and Andy Moran fired over a fine score from out past the 45m line after some keep ball and Lee Keegan repeated the trick on the 31 minute mark and Mayo were now four clear.
The scores just kept coming with Moran slinking one over the bar after neat work by Cillian O’Connor and Doherty, the Aidan O’Shea hit one high towards the sky that had just enough on it to scrape over Evan Comerford’s bar. The final act of the half was left to Moran who after he was picked out by Barry Moran kicked his fourth of the day to send Mayo in leading by 1-10 to 0-7 and looking to be cruising to a third All Ireland final in five years.
But the second half wasn’t that simple as Mayo lost their groove and never got going at all in the second half, the fading in and out of games has been a feature of Mayo’s run through the championship this year and they will be thankful that Tipp didn’t make it count on Sunday.
Kevin O’Halloran pointed a free just after the restart when Sweeney was fouled by Brendan Harrision. Mayo did reply instantly when Diarmuid O’Connor kicked a sweet one from the Cusack stand side of the field, but they would go another 19 minutes before they would score again. In that period Tipperary would add four points with Quinlivan kicking three frees and Bill Maher one from play.
David Clarke gets a leg out to stop a Tipp goal chance. Photo: Sportsfile
In that run David Clarke had to be on his toes to stretch out a leg to stop a Kevin O’Halloran shot on the deck after it had broke to him off Josh Keane’s leg. It could have been closer too if a Quinlivan effort hadn’t been ruled out by hawkeye for going over the post with 12 minutes left on the clock.
When Mayo finally did trouble the scoreboard again they went about it in roundabout way. Andy Moran was fouled 30m out in a scorable position, but rather than tap it over Cillian O’Connor took a quick one to Moran who went for goal but his shot was well saved by Comerford and the rebound fell to O’Connor who saw his effort hit off a defender for a 45. From the resulting placed ball, the O’Neills dropped short to the left of the goal and after they played around with it for a few seconds the ball was fed to Colm Boyle who kicked no nonsense style between the posts.
It took another five minutes for Mayo to score again and when it came about it was a very lucky score, Evan Regan shaped to shoot for a point but lost his balance as he kicked and the ball skidded along the deck into the path of Conor O’Shea who was beyond the cover. He pulled on it first time and arrowed it low to the bottom corner of the net to ease the Mayo nerves.
But there was still ten minutes to play including injury time, Mayo saw out those closing ten minutes with O’Connor tapping over close range free and Tipp’ adding two more from placed balls themselves to leave the gap at five points at the end of the day.
The win was the most important thing today for Mayo, but they’ll know that they will have to find a few extra gears on September 18 if they are going to end their wait for a first All Ireland title since 1951.
Mayo: A Moran (0-4 ), J Doherty (1-0 ), C O’Shea (1-0 ), C O’Connor (0-3, 3f ), D O’Connor (0-2 ), L Keegan (0-1 ), C Boyle (0-1 ), K McLoughlin (0-1 ), A O’Shea (0-1 ).
Tipperary: M Quinlivan (0-7, 7f ), C Sweeney (0-3,1f ), K O’Halloran (0-2,1f ), B Maher (0-1 ) P Austin (0-1 ).
Mayo: D Clarke; B Harrison, B Moran, K Higgins; L Keegan, C Boyle, P Durcan; S O’Shea, D Vaughan; K McLoughlin, A O’Shea, D O’Connor; J Doherty, A Moran, C O’Connor.
Subs: T Parsons for S O’Shea (53 ), C O’Shea for Doherty (58 ), E Regan for Moran (63 ), C Barrett for Boyle (67 ), A Dillon for McLoughlin (69 ), C Loftus for C O’Connor (70+1 ).
Tipperary: E Comerford; C O’Shaughnessy, A Campbell, C McDonald; B Maher, R Kiely, J Feehan; P Acheson, G Hannigan; J Keane, M Quinlivan, B Fox; K O’Halloran, C Sweeney, P Austin.
Subs: S Leahy for Kiely (b/c 10 ), A Moloney for Leahy (32 ), S O’Connell for O’Shaughnessy (56 ), I Fahey for O’Halloran (66 ), M Dunne for Keane (70+2 ).
Referee: D Coldrick (Meath ).