Dublin book a date with Mayo
GAA review: Dublin will play Mayo in the All-Ireland semi-final on September 2nd after the champions laboured to a 1-12 to 0-12 quarter-final victory over Laois in front of a crowd of 52,359 at Croke Park.
Mayo reached the semi-final earlier by easily seeing off the challenge of a poor Down team. Mayo won on a scoreline of 3-18 to 2-9 but will be concerned by the injury to Andy Moran which may rule their captain out of the semi-final with Dublin.
Dublin’s progress was assured thanks to a goal which was scored in the 29th minute. Michael Dara Macauley’s fisted effort after a powerful run was deflected into the net by Laois defender John O’Loughlin.
It meant that Dublin led on a score-line of 1-6 to 0-7 at half-time.
Up until the goal, Laois had matched Dublin in terms of scoring, if not possession with Colm Kelly’s accuracy from the dead ball ensuring that the sides were even throughout most of the first half.
Alan Brogan was forced to withdraw from the Dublin line-up shortly before the throw-in with a hamstring injury and the Leinster champions undoubtedly missed the 2011 Player of the Year’s creativity.
Dublin began the second half with a point from Stephen Cluxton but the All-Ireland champions were unable to pull clear from Laois as Kelly and substitute MJ Tierney kept the underdogs in touch with fine kicks from the dead ball.
Pat Gilroy introduced Ciarán Kilkenny and Kevin McManamon in the hope of providing an added attacking impetus but four wides in quick succession midway through the second half left Hill 16 feeling decidedly nervous. It prompted Gilroy into making another change, replacing Bernard Brogan with Tomás Quinn with seven minutes remaining.
Kevin Nolan eventually broke the scoring duck and Dublin retained possession well in the latter stages to kill off the Laois challenge and when Cluxton converted a 45 with seconds remaining Dublin’s passage to the semi-final was assured.
Mayo’s semi-final victory was more straightforward as they overpowered Down for the duration of the game. Jason Doherty’s early goal ensured that Mayo quickly settled into their stride. Their dominance only came under question for a brief period mid-way through the first half.
A well-worked move involving Benny Coulter and Conor Laverty set up midfielder Kalum King for the easiest of finishes and Down drew level on 24 minutes.
Mayo hit back almost immediately with a goal scored by Michael Conroy on 28 minutes. Alan Dillon and Moran were proving to be problematic for a porous Down defence and a further point from Conroy ensured that Mayo held a commanding 2-7 to 1-4 lead at half-time.
The second half was an even more one-sided affair as Dillon took control of Mayo’s half-forward line.
On 44 minutes the game effectively ended as a contest when Conroy palmed in his second goal and Mayo’s third. Down emptied their bench but the substitutions made little impact; Mayo were rampant and scores from Lee Kerrigan and Aidan O’Shea put further distance between the teams.
The most worrying aspect of the game for Mayo was the sight of captain Andy Moran being stretchered off with what appears to be a bad knee injury, which he sustained when harrying Liam Doyle in possession.
Despite that set-back and a late Down goal scored by Benny Coulter Mayo were able to comfortably hold on to victory.