Dublin have to sweat for victory as Mayo wilt in the heat
Jim Gavin’s men happy to win ugly as the long wait for Mayo continues
Dublin’s Bernard Brogan celebrates winning the All-Ireland senior championship football final. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho
Dublin 2-12 Mayo 1-14: Continuing to show the greatest economy in modern All-Ireland history – four final wins by an aggregate five points – Dublin crowned an exceptional season with the county’s 24th title.
On a sweltering afternoon the championship showpiece was claustrophobic, intense and exciting but it disappointed those who had hoped for a firework display between the best teams of the year.
But it wasn’t just the temperature – more associated with a good July – that made Jim Gavin’s team sweat for the honour, which rounded off the county’s first league and championship double since 1976.
As in the semi-final against Kerry, Dublin started poorly and their prospects could have been a speck on the horizon by half-time but again kept afloat by an early goal against the run of play, they got to the break trailing by just a point.
Having taken an apparently firm grip on the match in the third quarter, the Leinster champions found themselves pegged back by a Mayo goal against the run of play and although they kept the margin at a goal until injury-time, injuries had effectively reduced them to 13 players – Eoghan O’Gara damaged a hamstring, having menaced Mayo from his first-half introduction and Rory O’Carroll was visibly dazed after a collision with Enda Varley with all replacements used – for the closing 10 minutes and they just about held on to win a second Sam Maguire in three years, a feat not achieved since the 1970s.
Like any team chiselling achievement out of adversity, they needed big performances and just about found them after the calamitous opening quarter. Stephen Cluxton’s kick-outs in the second half were pin-point in their accuracy and helped resource the come back as well as protect ball in the fraught closing stages. His two dead-ball kicks were vital in a one-point victory.
Cian O’Sullivan came into the match strongly at centrefield and when required, dropped back to corner back for fire brigade duty after Jonny Cooper’s departure with concussion at the end of the third quarter. James McCarthy had his best match of the summer once he too had settled, his fast breaks helping to create attacks and his tireless running giving Cluxton a target at the end when legs were tiring and the match still in the balance.
Michael Darragh Macauley likewise recovered from a static start to get his motor running and launch the pile-driver runs that have characterised his season. Rory O’Carroll gave little change throughout to Alan Freeman and and had to stay on the field when injured in the fraught closing minutes.
Above all Bernard Brogan, a championship of fits and starts behind him, built on the improvement of the semi-final with a match winning contribution of 2-2 from play.