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Dublin and Mayo to do it again after tense All-Ireland Final draw

A scrappy but enthralling game at Croke Park saw Mayo force a replay late on

Kevin McLoughlin of Mayo scores an own goal during the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship final between Mayo and Dublin at Croke Park. Photo: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Dublin 2-09 Mayo 0-15

Awful spectacle devoid of the usual misery or joy, for anyone, as Dublin and Mayo must renew this bitter rivalry on Saturday week, October 1st.

Nobody deserved to win it but Cillian O’Connor ensured Mayo would not lose it.

The weather hardly helped but the familiarity of these two rivals ruined any chance of a proper game of football.

It was compelling but oddities prevailed over this affair. Let us present some evidence: It took Dublin 29 minutes, via a heretofore malfunctioning Dean Rock, to kick a point. His 93 percent scoring return is well gone. By then Mayo had kicked two goals, both just happened to be into their own nets.

Also by then James McCarthy’s race was run, black carded for an off the ball yet lightweight bash into Cillian O’Connor. Paddy Andrews arrived to settle drenched Hill nerves (plenty of Mayo heads up there, having arrived early and held their ground) with two pretty points.

Technically, Rock left the field at half-time with 1-2 as Dublin presented at 2-4 to 0-5 lead but the real statistic from Barney’s son was 0-2 converted efforts from six looks at the posts.

Odd barely covers it.

They talk about a Foxford curse. Misty rain presented Mayo with a genuine chance to unlock Dublin’s airtight defence, where Cian O’Sullivan was again magnificent. Aidan O’Shea had nothing but slippery paws whereas O’Sullivan must have dipped his fingers in glue before throw-in.

Scores came from unlooked places – Tom Parsons early on, Donal Vaughan raiding forward, Jason Doherty hitting a beauty.

But the goals will haunt them if they lose the replay. As Dublin poured forward on nine minutes Lee Keegan dragged Diarmuid Connolly to earth in similar fashion to what we saw during last year’s semi-final.

The officials missed it (they were both booked later but largely cancelled each other out) as play rolled towards the Mayo square.

Bernard Brogan, nothing like his usual self, scuffed at it but the ball still needed Kevin McLoughlin’s help to raise a green flag. The second was equally calamitous; Connolly’s laser-quick free found Rock, who fumbled in the wet, only for Colm Boyle to accidentally finish into the Canal End goal.

Then, and only then, this final settled into a normal looking football match. The arrival of Andrews helped. John Small got on a heap of ball.

Mayo kept pace. When they returned after the break only victory consummed their minds. Five points were gathered as Cillian O’Connor and Andy Moran came to life. Dublin, eventually, responded with point from Brian Fenton and Rock.

Suddenly, Moran had a sight of goal. He hit it pure but it flew over the bar.

One point game, 15 minutes to play, Dublin in sight of retaining Sam for the first time since 1977.

Turnovers ruled the contest, big tackles too, as powerful men skirted the line between possession and fouling. Heavy contact saw Kevin McManamon, Aidan O’Shea, Michael Darragh MacAuley and Boyle see yellow.

All in the game.

As energy reserves decreased the younger generation took hold. Fenton and Kilkenny seemed to be everywhere. Mayo warriors like Keith Higgins and Vaughan refused to grant them space to conjure a score.

Seven minutes to go and David Byrne lost possession to Kevin McLoughlin. Seconds later Alan Dillon was levelling matters up.

The 82,257 crowd were gripped by tension, groaning with each new error.

Turns out Small had a point in him after all that heavy lifting.

Dublin by one and hanging on.

Dean Rock rediscovered his mojo. Dublin by two. Connolly grabbed the kick out. Dublin by three.

And like that, Mayo’s agony seemed all that remained.

Unless the officials go and do something crazy, like announcing seven minutes of injury time, Dublin would be free.

During the seven minutes of injury time, O’Connor made it a one point game once again.

The lack of composure all over the field was astonishing.

Dublin opted to strangle the clock rather than Mayo. Kilkenny owned the ball for much of it, but seven minutes is an awfully long time to have to kill. Especially when O’Connor only needed one look at the posts.

When he got it, he delivered.

A draw so, numbness prevailed. No winner.

DUBLIN: S Cluxton, P McMahon, J Copper, D Byrne, J McCarthy, C O’Sullivan, J Small (0-01), B Fenton (0-01) MD MacAuley, P Flynn, K McManamon, C Kilkenny, D Rock (0-05, 4f), D Connolly (0-01), Bernard Brogan.

Subs: P Andrews (0-02) for McCarthy (BC 24), P Mannion for McManamon (46), M Fitzsimons for Macauley, E O’Gara for Brogan (61), D Daly for Byrne (66), D Bastick for Flynn

MAYO: D Clarke, B Harrison, D Vaughan (0-02), K Higgins, L Keegan, C Boyle, P Durcan (0-01), S O’Shea, T Parsons (0-01), K McLoughlin, A O’Shea, D O’Connor, J Doherty (0-01), A Moran (0-02), C O’Connor (0-07, 5f)

Subs: A Dillon (0-01) for S O’Shea (55), C Barrett for Boyle (58), B Moran for Dillon (66), S Coen for D O’Connor (66), E Regan for A Moran (71), C Loftus for Regan (78).

Referee: C Lane (Cork).