Dublin show their ability to win ugly if required

Champions produce a huge effort to keep a fiercely determined Mayo outfit at bay

Dublin 0-9 Mayo 0-7

If you think the All-Ireland champions would be spooked by having to take the show on the road, think again. Dublin left a wet, dark night in the west after wrestling two bruising points from a Mayo team that were clearly up for it.

This was an intriguing contest in appalling conditions and it was testy: two separate rows broke out during injury time as the home team sought to rescue something in front of a 10,520 fans.

This was a slog. Nothing fancy; just raw, bruising hard work. And a night which pleased Jim Gavin.


“To win a contest like that is pleasing. I thought we showed good control. There’s a great spirit in the camp and they’re enjoying their football and I thought they showed that in the final quarter.”

In the end, Dublin were simply more efficient at converting chances during a tempestuous second half played in heavy sheets of rain. James McCarthy, whose Formula One athleticism is for all seasons, chipped a point between two Dean Rock frees to give the visitors a three-point advantage which they held. There were glimpses of summer here – not least the moment when Aidan O'Shea brought down a ball and engaged the entire Dublin fullback line. He was called for charging with the ball but the moment will have registered with both managers.

Mayo didn't cough up a single goal chance but didn't create one either. Stephen Rochford stressed that Mayo were out to win this.

Moral victories

“We don’t do moral victories in that dressing room. We’re about winning games and we’ve got to get ourselves ready again. . . They’re a proud bunch and ultimately they’re still hurting today because we didn’t get the two points.”

Dublin pushed right up on the Mayo restarts and even though Rob Hennelly did well in finding an initial target man, he had to go short – the wind was also a factor – and trying to play the ball through the sky blue cover was an ordeal.

Dublin had ten men inside the Mayo half for most restarts, employing a tight man to man defence and inviting Mayo’s ball carriers to have a go. It was high risk stuff: Diarmuid Connnolly’s 20th minute point, high into the black night and off the post, came as a result of a turnover.

For the next kick-out, Paul Mannion was in like a demon to double-team Caolan Crowe and for a moment, Mayo's goal was exposed. So Mayo had to work ferociously hard just to break that first line of Dublin defence. Aidan O'Shea, notionally a centre-forward, and Tom Parsons had to drop ever deeper to provide options for the ball carriers. Consequently, the Mayo attacks were relatively rare in the first half.

But twice Mayo found joy along the left flank, with the excellent Diarmuid O'Connor and Evan Regan clipping good scores and Rob Hennelly landed a terrific 45 into the wind to give the home team an advantage in the 25th minute.

Forced shots

Only once were they caught out by a Dublin’s strike runners, fouling James McCarthy as he came onto a flat pass at speed. But overall, Mayo were disciplined. Their markers guided the Dublin attackers down cul-de-sacs or forced shots under pressure: the results were five Dublin wides from play and three missed frees in the first half alone.

Philly McMahon’s last minute introduction didn’t pan out too well: he was black carded after three minutes for felling Aidan O’Shea. Reigning footballer of the year Jack McCaffrey entered the fray. A 45 by Dean Rock just before the break gave them a 0-4 to 0-3 advantage.

Diarmuid O’Connor was clattered late in the 38th minute but landed the score of the match minutes later to equalise. But playing into the wind, the Dubs carried the ball with more ease and once they got their noses in front, they controlled the rhythm of play.

Mayo had chances to force a draw but the frees missed by Rob Hennelly and the lively Evan Regan were costly.

Colm Boyle and John Small were sent off on a second yellow after a general skirmish but by then, the game was up. DUBLIN: 1 S Cluxton; 3 M Fitzsimons, 2 J Cooper, 4 D Byrne; 24 E O'Conghaille (0-1), 23 P McMahon, 6 J Small, 5 J McCarthy (0-1), 9 D Bastick (0-1), 10 T Brady, 11 D Connolly (0-1), 12 P Mannion; 13 P Andrews, 14 D Rock (0-4, 3 frees 45), 15 P Mannion. Substitutes: J McCaffrey for P McMahon (BC, 2 mins), S Carthy for B Bastick (half-time), C Reddin for T Brady (45 mins), C Costello (0-1) for P Mannion, (53 mins), P Ryan for P Andrews (64 mins), D Daly for J Cooper (BC, 70 mins).

MAYO: 1 R Hennelly (0-2 ,45s), 2 B Harrison, 3 G Cafferkey, 4 C Crowe; 5 D Vaughan, 6 C Boyle, 7 S BNally; 8 T Parsons, 20 M Hall; 10 C O'Shea, 11 A O'Shea, 12 D O'Connor (0-1) ; 13 E Regan (0-4, 3 frees), 14 J Doherty, 15 M Sweeney. Substitutes: J Gibbons for T Parsons (half-time), D Drake for D Vaughan (42 mins), K Higgins for M Hall (54 mins), C Carolan for M Sweeney (57 mins), D McHale for C O'Shea (66 mins), S McHale for Nally (70 mins ).

Referee: P Hughes (Armagh).

at MacHale Park

Keith Duggan

Keith Duggan

Keith Duggan is Washington Correspondent of The Irish Times