Dublin rediscover their best with barnstorming finish

Jim Gavin’s men banish a week of controversy and demons with emphatic display

Dublin broke Mayo hearts in the sunlight of Electric Picnic and booked their place against in the final. Supporters gave their reactions and thoughts on where this leaves Mayo and Dublins future changes.


Dublin 3-15 Mayo 1-14

Dublin banished a week of controversy and the demons that took them to the brink of defeat last week with a barnstorming finish in which they both rediscovered their self confidence and drive. Mayo had moved into the driving seat going into the 54th minute, leading by four, 1-12 to 0-11, but a powerful surge in the final quarter saw them out-score the Connacht champions 3-4 to 0-2 for an emphatic win.

For Mayo the magnificent obsession is out of reach for yet another year and they will reflect ruefully on the failure to land the knock-out blow last week when Dublin were on the ropes and this evening when they looked equally likely to finish the job.

Not alone had Cillian O’Connor’s well-taken goal in the 42nd minute put daylight between the teams but Dublin were betraying all the signs of stress in the inability to hold possession and chip away at the deficit.

In one long, tracking shot of frustration and draining confidence, the otherwise excellent Paddy Andrews was dispossessed by Diarmuid O’Connor, a Dean Rock free limped wide, Jack McCaffrey was turned over and finally Mayo replacement Patrick Durcan finished a long phase of keep-ball by kicking his team four ahead.

The comeback was started by James McCarthy, who was more prominent than in the drawn match, kicked a decent point from distance to round off good work by Ciarán Kilkenny and Kevin McManamon.

What was different about Dublin? For a start they didn’t panic when the pressure came on. Secondly they looked to have kicked on from what had been the first hard match of the championship. Brian Fenton at centrefield built on his display last week, maintained the energy levels and cut out mistakes.

Thirdly the bench made a big impact. Alan Brogan added urgency to the attack and McManamon as usual generated a power surge. Michael Fitzsimons was again dogged and impervious in defence and above all – on the principle of the prodigal son – Michael Darragh Macauley at last gave sustained glimpses of his best form, the bustling, robust drives at the opposition again in evidence but unlike last week he was strong in possession and revved up to splinter the defensive cover.

As so often though it was goals that bank-rolled the recovery. With little more than two minutes Macauley had played a part in the over that ended with Fenton kicking across goal and Mayo’s familiar tormentor Bernard Brogan was on hand to steer the ball into the net.

Mayo had hardly time to breathe when Brogan was at it again, twisting his way past Chris Barrett and along the end-line before hand passing across goal for Philip McMahon to bundle into the net. There remained only long bouts of holding up the ball – Dublin weren’t going to make the same mistake as last week – and grace notes from McManamon, a classic exhilarating goal made by Fenton’s great run and precise lay off and the last point of the day in injury-time.

Jim Gavin’s team now advance to the All-Ireland final where they will take on champions Kerry.

So much of the build-up to the match had been consumed by disciplinary matters that it was almost a relief to see the match under way on a lovely, sunny September evening.

Before the start the ground, with a crowd of 81,897 in attendance, buzzed with anticipation and rumours abounded of Diarmuid Connolly’s likely deployment after being cleared to play by the DRA: on the bench, starting – not in the panel at all!

The last one was simply a case of his not having been listed in the programme, the names for which had to be in on Thursday – before Connolly’s miraculous release from bondage in the early hours of Saturday morning.

There was a great, rumbling roar when he emerged wearing number 18 and started at centre forward.

For all that was learned in the drawn encounter, this evening’s first half was remarkably similar to last Sunday’s but perhaps slightly less hesitant. Mayo didn’t push up all the way on Dublin’s kick-outs and the re-starts largely went with possession although Stephen Cluxton wasn’t hanging about in taking his kicks for fear of congestion.

Paddy Andrews was the star turn of the first 35 minutes for Dublin, kicking four points from all sorts of tight angles, his deft touch guiding the ball over the bar with minimal clearance.

Mayo weren’t going to be burned early though. Cillian O’Connor and his brother Diarmuid especially were in accurate shooting form and the lead changed hands before settling down to half-time equilibrium at 0-10 each.

Before Cillian O’Connor kicked a free and scored an opportunist goal – jinking through a crowded defence before getting off a shot into the net as he fell, the move set up by Andy Moran again in as a replacement and once more looking like he was on a mission.

There had however been a blow for Mayo just before the scores. Séamus O’Shea, the rock-steady centrefielder, in an intemperate moment had punished a dunt by Jonny Cooper by shaking him around like a rag doll and throwing the Dublin defender to the ground.

Dublin had learned a week previously that top centrefielders are tricky to replace in this sort of match and the imminent arrival of Macauley would prove.

Connolly had his moments in the final quarter but overall showed the strain of his paralegal adventures.

So Dublin have rediscovered themselves in the nick of time but for Mayo the road stretches ever onwards.

DUBLIN: 1 S Cluxton, 2 J Cooper, 3 R O’Carroll, 4 P McMahon (1-2); 5 J McCarthy (0-1), 6 C O’Sullivan, 7 J McCaffrey; 8 B Fenton (0-1), 9 D Bastick; 10 P Flynn, 18 D Connolly, 12 C Kilkenny (0-2); 13 D Rock (0-2 frees), 11 P Andrews (0-5), 15 B Brogan (1-1).

Substitutes: 21 M Fitzsimons for J Cooper (44 mins), MD MacAuley for D Bastick (46 mins), 14 A Brogan for P Flynn (52 mins), 24 K McManamon (1-1) for D Rock (54 mins), 22 E Lowndes for 18 D Connolly (28 mins), 26 J Small for 15 B Brogan (71 mins).

MAYO: 1 R Hennelly; 2 C Cafferkey, 3 D Vaughan, 4 K Higgins; 5 L Keegan (0-1), 6 C Barrett, 7 C Boyle; 8 S O’Shea, 9 T Parsons; 10 D O’Connor (0-2), 19 B Moran (0-1), 12 K McLoughlin (0-1), 15 J Doherty; 11 A O’Shea (0-1), 14 C O’Connor (1-6, 5 frees).

Substitutes: P Durcan (0-1) for D Vaughan (33 mins inj.), 21 A Moran (0-1 free) for S O’Shea (38 mins black card), 26 A Freeman for B Moran (55 mins), 13 D Drake for 7 C Boyle (59 mins) 22 S Coen for 9 T Parsons (65 mins), M 24 M Ronaldson for 12 K McLoughlin (70 mins).

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