Dublin finally crash down to earth as Mayo come from behind to secure win

James Horan’s side claim stunning extra-time victory to end Dublin’s long unbeaten run

Mayo’s Jordan Flynn celebrates at the final whistle  after the win over Dublin in the Al-Ireland semi-final at Croke Park. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Mayo’s Jordan Flynn celebrates at the final whistle after the win over Dublin in the Al-Ireland semi-final at Croke Park. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

 

Mayo 0-17 Dublin 0-14 (aet)

So it ended. Dublin, losing altitude all season, finally fell to earth. Champions for the past unparalleled six years, they met a Mayo team with momentum and spirit and their diminished powers proved inadequate to the challenge.

They fell not to a bolt from the blue with time nearly up but to their own lack of conviction, as reflected in inability to register the necessary scores and indiscipline, reflected in three black cards – and a few more that might have been shown – and some borderline red cards in separate incidents.

Their unease was summed up in the extraordinary passage of play that saw them throwing the ball around in their own square to try to avoid Mayo’s encroaching forwards. The lack of composure led to the ball going out for a 45 and Rob Hennelly, availing of two chances to convert – the first wide but ordered retaken, ironically because Mayo had 16 players on the field and the second bang on target to force extra-time.

It was fitting that the county which had suffered more than any because of Dublin’s dominion should deal the final blow – all the more so because they were so reduced by injury coming into the match with their All Star defender Oisín Mullin as expected ruled out with a quad injury.

It was a first win over their tormentors in nine championship matches but a second for manager James Horan, who was at the helm in 2012 when Mayo dethroned Pat Gilroy’s then champions.

They had to overhaul a six-point deficit in the second half and brought all of the energy they had to the Connacht final comeback against Galway to confound those, who had cautioned that they couldn’t afford such lassitude against Dublin. They could and they did.

It was a great team effort but there were also outstanding individual inputs. Lee Keegan rolled back the years with a galvanic display, once freed from Ciarán Kilkenny, although he was getting on his own share of ball.

Pádraig O’Hora switched on to Kilkenny in the second half and all but snuffed out the threat. Patrick Durcan was also a terrifically urgent presence, particularly in the second half.

Dublin’s John Small with Lee Keegan of Mayo. Photograph: Tommy Dickson / Inpho
Dublin’s John Small with Lee Keegan of Mayo. Photograph: Tommy Dickson / Inpho

If there was a symbolic moment, it came in the 63rd minute at 0-7 to 0-12 when a Hennelly free was miraculously prevented from going wide by Diarmuid O’Connor, who had been quiet. But his booted clearance out the field found Kevin McLaughlin who swung over the point and cut the deficit to four.

Tommy Conroy also found his edge and finished strongly with three points between the dying minutes and extra time.

For the first 35 minutes, it looked business as usual for Dublin. They moved and scored with comfort and led by six, 0-10 to 0-4. Kilkenny shot three and ran the show up front. Brian Fenton and Brian Howard controlled the middle and the defence was alert and largely untroubled.

Mayo captain Aidan O’Shea had a miserable afternoon at full forward, missing a mark he had taken in front of the posts in the 22nd minute but the other forwards were also having trouble.

At the start of the second half James McCarthy soloed through and went for goal but shot into the side netting. Whatever happened at half-time the teams changed personality. Dublin began to make errors, forced and unforced, turning over ball and failing to make chances.

Mayo were up for it, though and chipped away point by point. The most telling statistic is that Dublin managed just four points in an hour of football, three in the second half and one in extra-time.

Set this leisurely target, Mayo’s ramped-up challenge ticked off the deficit one by one. A burst of energy in extra-time saw them beat Dublin 0-4 to 0-1 in the first half of the additional period, to go three ahead and register what turned out to be the final score, 0-17 to 0-14.

MAYO: Rob Hennelly (0-3, three frees); Pádraig O’Hora, Lee Keegan (0-1), Michael Plunkett; Paddy Durcan, Stephen Coen, Eoghan McLaughlin; Mattie Ruane (0-1), Conor Loftus (0-1); Diarmuid O’Connor, Kevin McLoughlin (0-1), Darren McHale; Tommy Conroy (0-3), Aidan O’Shea, Ryan O’Donoghue (0-5, two frees, one mark).

Subs: Enda Hession for McHale (27 mins); Bryan Walsh for Plunkett, James Carr for O’Shea (both 48); Jordan Flynn (0-1) for McLaughlin (58); Conor O’Shea for Loftus (64); S Coen for Carr (70); Loftus for McLoughlin (71); Darren Coen (0-1) for S Coen (78); O’Shea for D Coen (81); Brendan Harrison for O’Connor (87).

DUBLIN: Evan Comerford; Mick Fitzsimons, David Byrne, Jonny Cooper; Eoin Murchan, Brian Howard, John Small; Brian Fenton, James McCarthy; Paddy Small (0-2), Ciarán Kilkenny (0-3, one mark), Niall Scully; Dean Rock (0-7, five frees), Con O’Callaghan (0-1), Cormac Costello.

Subs: Colm Basquel for Costello (50 mins); Tom Lahiff for Cooper (52); Seán Bugler (0-1) for Scully (62); Seán McMahon for Murchan (67); Philly McMahon for S McMahon, Robbie McDaid for J Small, Aaron Byrne for Howard (all 81); Costello for P Small (85).

Black card: Basquel (74); McCarthy (92); Lahiff (93).

Referee: Conor Lane (Cork).

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