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The sun shone across the county all weekend and while the thoughts of many would have been about 99’s and lounging on the beaches from Keem to Old Head, but for the club footballers around Mayo this wasn’t a weekend for soaking up the sun.
When a cool head was needed as things looked like they might be about to fall apart right at the end, the man who was making his 132 appearance for Mayo equalling James Nallen’s record number who steadied the ship and calmed the nerves with a brilliantly taken point. Andy Moran’s score three minutes into injury time pushed Mayo back into a two point lead after Donal O’Hare’s brilliantly taken goal had brought the Mourne county men right back into the game and had Mayo hearts racing and fingers checking twitter feeds to see how things were developing elsewhere.
A piece of individual brilliance by two minutes into the second half by Evan Regan kickstarted Mayo’s drive towards their second league win of the season. Regan was picked out by Tom Parsons in the right hand corner of the pitch, the Ballina sharpshooter looked to be in trouble on more than one occasion, but he managed to create enough space for himself to beat two men and fire the ball low past Geoffrey Claffey and put Mayo into a six point lead.
It was always going to be a tough ask for Aghamore to turn over the 2013 champions in this game, they needed to keep things tight and tidy at the back and try and build up a lead they could hold on to going down the home stretch and hope that it would have triggered some doubts in the Mitchels minds.
Breaffy v Garrymore
As in every game between two evenly matched sides a number of factors will be decisive in sorting out where the winning and the losing of this game will be. We will look at a few of those factors here.
Liam Gallagher once described a gig he played in Slane Castle as biblical, what went in Croke Park last Sunday was nothing short of the same. It was the most anticipated All-Ireland semi final in living memory and it certainly did not disappoint. I arrived early to do a piece with Radio One outside the Croke Park Hotel alongside former Hill 16 favourite Barney Rock and the place was buzzing at 12.30pm. I ran into a few former team mates, namely David Heaney, David Brady, and Kevin O'Neill who had just flown in from the USA for the game. I also had a chat with current Kerry minor and former All-Ireland winning senior manager Jack O'Connor who was rightly cock a hoop about Mayo’s chances. He told myself and Brady that he was coming up to Mayo for a week after they eventually win Sam which he said could be in a few weeks time. I hope he’s right.
It was done and dusted, Mayo were going home and the dream looked to have died for another year when Jack McCaffrey put the ball over the bar to put Dublin 2-12 to 0-11 clear with 60.45 gone on the clock. Mayo brought in Alan Freeman just after the white flag had been raised.
Ten minutes from time Jack McCaffery swung the ball over the bar and the Hill was in full voice as Dublin went seven points clear and Mayo were hanging on looking for a punchers chance of resurrecting their interest in this years All Ireland senior championship. But they dug in and fought it out to the not so bitter end. Eight minutes from time Andy Moran fired over a nice score from play, a minute later Keith Higgins side stepped his way to a point and the gap was closing in.