Blue Murder: how Dublin blitzed Mayo with 2-6 without reply in just 12 minutes
Jim Gavin told his players to keep ‘doing what you’re doing’. They did a lot more
Con O’Callaghan celebrates scoring the first of his two goals in the All-Ireland semi-final against Mayo at Croke Park. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho
So nothing much was said at the break beyond asking the Dublin players to back themselves. Mayo didn’t appear to change much either, only very quickly found their backs to the wall, and nothing much they could do about it either.
“The message, to be honest, was just keep ‘doing what you’re doing’, we just asked the guys to back themselves,” manager Jim Gavin recounted, when asked exactly what was said in the Dublin dressingroom at half-time.
That half-time score was Mayo 0-8 Dublin 0-6. What happened next was a sort of blue murder, a skinning of Mayo in scoring 2-6 without reply in the opening 12 minutes of that second half. “The game naturally opens up, so, to believe in the skill sets that they have, to try to be true to that, and that’s where those scores came from,” added Gavin.
“So they will see most of that is said to them. Their game intelligence is really high, we just empower them, we can’t play as a coach and management team. We just give the framework, they go out and play. This is very much a player driven team, make no mistake about that.”
Here’s how Dublin lay waste to Mayo:
35:40: Mayo 0-8 Dublin 0-7
Michael Darragh Macauley wins the throw-in, Dean Rock is held back by Chris Barrett when chasing the breaking ball, wins the free, and then taps it over.
36:47: Dublin 1-7 Mayo 0-8
Patrick Durcan’s shot at the Dublin goal drops just short, Jack McCaffrey wins a free, they work the ball quickly up the field, before Ciarán Kilkenny’s first pass to Con O’Callaghan in space: his marker Lee Keegan half slips and is half discarded, O’Callaghan’s searing shot at goal flies past Robert Hennelly on his near side.
39:13: Dublin 1-8 Mayo 0-8
Defender David Byrne passes to Kilkenny, who again provides for Niall Scully, who booms hit shot over the posts.
39:58: Dublin 1-9 Mayo 0-8
Brian Fenton wins the Mayo kick-out, Byrne again passing off this time to Paul Mannion, who fires off a super point off his left foot from the Cusack Stand side.
41:18: Dublin 1-10 Mayo 0-8
A slighted irate Keegan is yellow-carded for holding back O’Callaghan, Rock deftly tapping over the free.
41:58: Dublin 1-11 Mayo 0-8
Another godly fetch from Fenton, this one again passed off to Mannion, who turns Brendan Harrison on his heels, and shoots again clean between the posts.
45:32: Dublin 2-11 Mayo 0-8
After Cillian O’Connor’s free for Mayo drifts wide, Jonny Cooper is then fouled by O’Connor (who gets himself booked), and Kilkenny again turns provider, his deftly struck free landing straight into the hands of O’Callaghan, who with a near action reply of his first goal, again skins Keegan, this time with the dummy, and again beats Hennelly on his near side
46:53 Dublin 2-12 Mayo 0-8
Scully’s beautiful kick-pass finds Mannion in an open corridor, and again he skins Harrison, shooting off that brilliant left foot to make it 2-6 without reply for Dublin. Game, set and match already.
For Mayo manager James Horan there was no excuse, no easy explanation either: “They definitely pinned back their ears a little, and ran at us when they got the ball, and probably weren’t doing that as much in the first half, so they just got a step on us a couple of times for those goals, finished them very well.
“It was that period obviously when they were in complete control, and we were troubling to get our hands on possession, and they were in a strong position for the rest of the game. Look, a team like Dublin are always going to come at you. I suppose when we were on the ropes we didn’t deal with it well, they came at us from a lot of different angles, and really got their tails up.
“You saw in the second half when Con O’Callaghan got the ball in his hands, just going running at his man, and a couple of things happened at that stage, maybe the legs got a bit heavy.”
Those heavy legs, Horan added, not helped by Mayo’s scheduling of games: “The turnaround they’re asking amateur players to do, I think it’s crazy, I didn’t really mention it all year, and I’m not in any way using it as an excuse, but coming back from games at 2am in the morning, and guys being in work on the Monday, just that whole what we’re asking players to do is very, very tough. Two weeks before a semi-final would be a start.”
For Gavin, meanwhile, all thoughts now turn to Sunday, September 1st, with the insistence it all begins fresh again: “The slate is wiped clean after this performance. They collective group prepare, and get the team ready, and just because a player isn’t here on matchday doesn’t mean he doesn’t influence his team mates. They do.
“We can only select 26 to represent the team, but there are some outstanding leaders that weren’t on the pitch today, but are leading in the shadows of this team, and we’re really fortunate to have an outstanding team like that, who are all driven really for Dublin to just be their best. Of course they’re disappointed, devastated, if they don’t make the match day squad, but they are all driven to get Dublin to be its best.”