Search Results for 'Diarmuid Connolly'
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Sometimes it’s not about being the better team, it’s about finding ways to win games when you are probably second best on the day. Dublin were able to do that, they were able to get themselves over the line right at the end when it mattered most and they claimed their third All Ireland title in a row.
"We’ll be competitive and we’ll be looking for a performance every day that we go out and we can be honest in ourselves and we did ourselves and the county proud and we’re going the right direction towards what our goals will be.” That's what Stephen Rochford said back in December 2015 — two days after he was appointed Mayo manager. While there have been days when things haven't quite gone to plan they have always been "honest" in themselves as a team and that's what has brought them to where they are right now, 70 minutes away from their final goal.
Mayo suffered a crushing and embarrassing 12 point defeat at the hands of All-Ireland champions Dublin last Saturday. Dublin, having drawn their last two games which they easily could have lost, had me fully convinced it was set up for Mayo to end their great two and half year and 32 game unbeaten run in league and championship.
And breathe. There is no word in the English dictionary to describe what went on last Sunday. Mayo produced their gutsiest performance ever to snatch a draw against raging hot favourites and current champions Dublin in Croke Park in the All-Ireland final. The tone was set long before throw-in as the teams entered the field. I happened to be on the sideline doing a piece with Radio 1 as I watched Stephen Cluxton lead his team out to a deafening roar. I was left stunned to see Cillian O'Connor burst out the tunnel through the Dublin players, followed closely by Aidan O'Shea and the rest of his team mates. Misinformed initially, I was told Mayo lay in wait for Dublin to ruffle their feathers. The reason for this coming together was the fact that Dublin were meant to enter the field at 2.56 and Mayo at 2.58. This clash occurred at 3.02.
When Mayo needed a man to show the leadership in a clutch situation, their star man came good right at the death. Cillian O’Connor showed why he was picked by Stephen Rochford as his captain, when he created the space he needed to shimmy inside and drill the ball through the drizzle over the bar and electrify the Mayo faithful in Croke Park to haul his side level at the death.
It's a game that lasts 70 minutes and both sides have 15 players each and anything can happen — once upon a time that was how things were looked at before a big game. Sure, one team could have beaten all before and behind them in style, while the other scraped through to get to the big day. But at the end of the day all that mattered was what happened over the 70 minutes, that's still true today but only in part.
And Dublin it is, as we expected. Dublin qualified for an All-Ireland final showdown with Mayo after one of the most pulsating and memorable semi-finals you are likely to see. It was no place for the faint hearted.