Brogan hits high notes as Mayo left singing the blues
The wait goes on for Mayo as Dublin are left as the last men standing
Bernard Brogan celebrates his second goal against Mayo. Photograph: Dara MacDonaill
Improvise, adapt, overcome. After a season of poetry, Dublin’s All-Ireland victory was brass-tack prose, for no other reason but that it had to be. The summer’s last set-to was tough and it was brutal, with hits of tectonic weight an all sides. But when it was done and they had completed the bodycount, Jim Gavin’s team were 2-12 to 1-14 winners over Mayo. The best find a way.
You pick and you plan and you imagine any and all scenarios but as Gavin admitted afterwards with a hearty puff of the cheeks, you don’t foresee having all your substitutions made after just 53 minutes. You don’t reckon on having to see out a knife-edge final with a third of your team variously lame and lamented. Or if you do, your plan can’t extend far beyond prayer and good living.
But Dublin came through. They endured. For the third game this summer, they overturned a half-time deficit. For the fifth time in six games, they scored more goals than their opposition. As ever, they scored more off the bench as well. Add it all up and the sum of their parts was more than Mayo’s, just as it’s been more than the sum of everyone else’s.
“We pulled through games this year already that had been close and we’ve come from behind,” said Bernard Brogan, scorer of 2-3 in his best display of the championship. “We just stuck to our gameplan and came out on top. That is what has worked for us all year. We never panicked. That is the one thing with Jim, he has had that calm around the place. No one ever panics.”
The 82,274 who flowed through the gates didn’t get their shoot-out. This was a day of heavy artillery shelling rather than pistols at dawn. Under an incongruous sun for September’s fourth Sunday, the frenzied pace took its toll on both sides and by the end Dublin were essentially playing with 13 players having used up all their subs.
Rory O’Carroll was concussed, Eoghan O’Gara had a torn hamstring. Add in a gash in Philly McMahon’s cheek, a Scooby-Do black eye for Jonny Cooper and a foot injury that Michael Darragh Macauley had carried from the first half and Dublin were travelling pretty light by that point.
Gavin was unapologetic about the rugby tackles at the end, pointing instead to a free count that went 32-12 against them across the course of the game.
“That’s just beyond me,” said Gavin. “I can’t understand that. I really can’t. That’s one of the very disappointing things. Not only were we playing Mayo but we were playing the referee as well. The players were frustrated. That free count is just not acceptable.
“Anybody here can ask me are Dublin a cynical team and we’re not. We play the game with certain values in the squad and we play the game the way we believe it should be played. At the end, that was just Dublin players getting frustrated. For the whole game, there is a double count going against us. All the time. And it’s not only today. We probably held our counsel for most of the games but that has been the trend in all the games.”