Dublin barely break sweat as they cruise past Mayo
It’s now 33 games unbeaten for the All Ireland champions as they brushed aside rivals
Dublin’s Dean Rock gets in a tussle with Diarmuid O’Connor and Keith Higgins of Mayo during their Allianz League clash at Croke Park. Photo: Tommy Dickson/Inpho
A squib so damp, you’d have to go looking on the sea-bed to find it. Dublin yawned their way to a 33rd game unbeaten, overcoming an embarrassingly slight Mayo challenge in front of a 34,758 crowd in Croke Park. They worked like dogs and hunted Mayo down as though they’d been waiting a year for a win. And they did it with most of their front-liners sitting in the stand.
If Mayo had eyed this game up from early in the league as the night when they finally drew a line in the sand and posted a first win over Dublin under Jim Gavin, they had a funny way of showing it. It wasn’t that they were second to every ball, more that they just didn’t go for most of them, so often content to screen Dublin players from a distance instead of pressuring them in possession.
It meant players like Brian Fenton, Michael Darragh Macauley and Ciarán Kilkenny were able to take countless passes on the burst and cut swathes through the Mayo defence whenever they pleased. All of Mayo’s generals were bypassed, with none of Lee Keegan, Colm Boyle, Keith Higgins or Donie Vaughan able to plug the gaps.
If it was a curiously wan night’s work from Mayo, Dublin couldn’t have been any more enthusiastic or ruthless. They bullied the Mayo kick-out, thieving their first goal when Niall Scully bounded onto a loopy David Clarke scoop after nine minutes and fed Kilkenny in space. Dublin’s main provider drew his man and left Conor McHugh with a simple palm to the net.
That pushed Dublin 1-2 to 0-0 ahead and as the old chestnut goes, Mayo were lucky to have the 0-0 to their name. Eoghan O’Gara was playing at full-forward for Dublin and missed two sitters before there were even 20 minutes on the clock. His first went wide, his second flashed across the face of goal and out of the sideline. Dublin could so easily have been
When they did manage to put the occasional move together, their shooting was chronic. They managed just two scores in the whole of the first half, both of them 45s from Cillian O’Connor. They had 12 more scoring chances but kicked seven wides, dropped three short and drew smart saves out of Stephen Cluxton when first O’Connor and then Kevin McLoughlin got in close enough to see the whites of his eyes. They improved a touch in the second half – but then it would have been some achievement to have been any worse.
That said, Dublin were terrific, full of bloodlust from early on. Clarke had a fine game in the Mayo goal when it came to shot-stopping but his kick-outs were routed. Young bucks like McHugh, Scully and Shane Carthy buzzed about in attack, John Small and Darren Daly were in miserly form at the back. By half-time, Dublin led 1-5 to 0-2.
The second half was more of the same. Mayo never raised any bit of a gallop and any time they threatened to, Dublin grabbed the rein tight and put them in the place. Each of Mayo’s first three points after the restart were answered within a minute at the other end - the ease with which Dean Rock, Philly McMahon and Eric Lowndes were able to reply told you all you needed to know about the prospects of a comeback. This game was dead long before the end.
Dublin could even afford to miss a penalty, Paddy Andrews coming off the bench and drawing an astonishing double save from Clarke in the Mayo goal. It didn’t matter in the slightest. Gavin ran the bench, sending on Paul Flynn and Kevin McManamon and lark about for a while. Rock was steady as ever from frees and McHugh filled his boots too.
If Mayo were a horse, you’d say this couldn’t be their true running and maybe be minded to forgive it. They must be better than this. But that’s 11 times they’ve played Dublin under Gavin and not once have they beaten them. The way they played here, you’d never have guessed that was a stat they were overly pushed about.
DUBLIN: Stephen Cluxton; Philly McMahon (0-2), Mick Fitzsimons, David Byrne; Darren Daly, John Small, Eric Lowndes (0-2); Brian Fenton, Michael Darragh Macauley; Niall Scully, Dean Rock (0-8, 0-6 frees), Shane Carthy; Ciarán Kilkenny, Eoghan O’Gara, Conor McHugh (1-3).
Subs: Paddy Andrews (for O’Gara 46 mins; Paul Flynn (0-1) for Carthy, 51 mins; Kevin McManamon for McHugh, 55 mins; Ciarán Reddin for Byrne, 65 mins; Emmet Ó Conghaile for Fenton, 70 mins; Conor Mullally for Small, 72 mins
MAYO: David Clarke; Lee Keegan, Keith Higgins, Paddy Durcan; Stephen Coen (0-1), Colm Boyle (0-1), Donal Vaughan; Tom Parsons (0-1), Jason Gibbons; Fergal Boland, Kevin McLoughlin, Diarmuid O’Connor; Evan Regan (0-2, 0-2 frees), Cillian O’Connor (0-2, 0-2 45s), Andy Moran.
Subs: Conor Loftus for Regan (temp) 21-27 mins; Brendan Harrison for Gibbons, half-time; Shane Nally for Vaughan (black card), 51 mins; Conor O’Shea for Moran, 54 mins; Loftus for D O’Connor, 64 mins; Danny Kirby for Boland, 66 mins
Referee: David Coldrick (Meath).