Brilliant Brogan pushes Dubs to victory

Dublin's Bernard Brogan celebrates scoring the first goal of the game against Mayo. He scored 1-10 in total at Croke Park. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Dublin's Bernard Brogan celebrates scoring the first goal of the game against Mayo. He scored 1-10 in total at Croke Park. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Sat, Mar 2, 2013, 00:00

Dublin 2-14 Mayo 0-16:Bernard Brogan should have been allowed take the match ball home. It did everything he asked it to do in a four-point NFL Division One win for Dublin over Mayo.

For a few hectic minutes this felt like championship. Albeit the championship at night. But the frenetic pace and intensity of August football was in the air.

Dublin and Mayo so rarely disappoint. A glimpse of summer on a relatively mild Spring gathering under lights in Croke Park.

There was plenty to report.

For starters, a red card for Ger Brennan that will look far worse on closer inspection. Well, depending on which offence referee Cormac Reilly decided was the sending off offence. There were three. The high tackle on Michael Conroy was probably only a yellow card, the subsequent kick can be argued as the ball was near Conroy’s body, while the tangle with Donal Vaughan led to further skirmishes.

Down to 14 men with 30 minutes to play and leading by a single point, Jim Gavin’s men looked in serious bother.

Luckily for them, Brogan is already having a dream season. He finished here with 1-10 including a sideline that had shades of Maurice Fitzgerald’s great strike that sickened the Dubs way back in 2001.

There was also a goal from Dublin’s super sub, Kevin McManamon, into Hill 16 which was as picturesque as his iconic moment in September 2011. But this was a master class in score gathering from Brogan. Jason Doherty did a pretty respectable job down the other end.

There was a slight fear of Mayo catching fire as well, as they did so beautifully in last year’s All-Ireland semi-final, with a spray of six unanswered points in the middle chunk of the first half. But it was quickly extinguished by this impressive Dublin attack spearheaded by Brogan.

Things have changed significantly from the 2011 winning forward line with Diarmuid Connolly – initially named in the side but presumably pulled due to an ankle problem (oddly, Rory O’Carroll wore his number 14 jersey but was deployed at fullback) – and Alan Brogan replaced by the next wave of blue talent.

Ciarán Kilkenny made his first start of the year for Dublin, a slick display in Alan Brogan’s play-making role. It is his position now.

Bernard Brogan had Dublin three points ahead after six minutes with two frees and a sublime strike, moving away from the posts and not needing to look up. It was a technically perfect score.

There followed the usual Mayo blitz they always save for Dublin in Croke Park. The packed middle third of Hill 16 visibly shuddered as Aidan O’Shea’s nicely clipped score was followed over the next nine minutes by Doherty’s brace, Enda Varley, Lee Keegan and Doherty again.

It got worse as Tomás Brady, the recently converted hurler, went down with hamstring injury, but Dublin were surprisingly unruffled as history seemed to be repeating itself.

Brogan was at the helm, kicking a free before rising above Kenneth O’Malley and Ger Cafferkey to punch a cracking point.

Cafferkey was being destroyed by the 2010 footballer of the year. Something similar was happening to Kevin O’Brien down the other end – Enda Varley running him ragged.

Cian O’Sullivan levelled matters on 27 minutes before another Brogan free was followed by a fine point from Paddy Andrews. This time Brogan turned creator with a cross field kick pass.

When Brogan combined with Paul Flynn on 32 minutes to roll the ball into O’Malley’s left corner, Mayo looked on the edge of a hammering. But they refused to wilt, Varley and Michael Conroy scores making it a three-point game at half-time.

Doherty was keeping the scoreboard ticking over for Mayo and soon after Brennan walked they eased into a 0-13 to 1-9 lead.

Dublin even missed a penalty – O’Malley saving low from a Stephen Cluxton hit – but they had another gear. And a second goal.

McManamon shrugged off Keith Higgins, no mean feat, before placing his shot around O’Malley.

Brogan took over, reaming off three points, each one better than the one before.

Mayo’s inaccuracy ruined any chance of a late revival, ensuring it was Dublin’s night.

Really though, it was Brogan’s game.

Dublin: S Cluxton (capt); D Daly, R O’Carroll, K O’Brien; J Cooper, G Brennan, J McCaffrey; D O’Mahony, C O’Sullivan; P Flynn, T Brady, C Reddin, C Kilkenny; P Andrews, B Brogan.

Mayo: K O’Malley; C Barrett, G Cafferkey, K Higgins (capt); L Keegan, D Vaughan, C Boyle; J Gibbons, B Moran; K McLoughlin, A O’Shea, R Feeney; E Varley, J Doherty, M Conroy.

Referee: C Reilly (Meath)

Att: 21,156

NFL results

Division 1

Dublin 2-14 Mayo 0-16

Division 2

Armagh 3-9 Longford 2-8

Laois 1-17 Louth 2-14

Division 3

Meath 1-6 Cavan 0-15

Antrim 2-9 Fermanagh 1-12

Division 4

Waterford 0-6 Limerick 0-8

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