Saturday 27 May 2017

Dublin and Mayo must do battle again after enthralling All-Ireland final draw at Croker

Dublin 2-9 Mayo 0-15

Mayo’s Seamus O’Shea with Dublins Ciaran Kilkenny and Paul Flynn during the All-Ireland Final. Photo: Kyran O'Brien
Mayo’s Seamus O’Shea with Dublins Ciaran Kilkenny and Paul Flynn during the All-Ireland Final. Photo: Kyran O'Brien
Mayo’s Colm Boyle and Duublins John Small during the AllIreland Final
Mayo’s Colm Boyle and Duublins John Small during the AllIreland Final
Bernard Brogan celebrates Dublins First goal
Mayo’s Andy Moran and Dublins Cian O’Sullivan during the AllIreland Final
FAns on the Hill
Dublins Cian O’Sullivan and Mayo’s Donal Vaughan during the AllIreland Final
Mayo’s Keeper David Clarke and Brendan Harrison in action with Dublins Bernard Brogan during the AllIreland Final
Mayo’s Keeper David Clarke and Brendan Harrison in action with Dublins Bernard Brogan during the AllIreland Final
Mayo’s Keeper David Clarke and Brendan Harrison in action with Dublins Bernard Brogan during the AllIreland Final
Dublins Cian O’Sullivan and Mayo’s Donal Vaughan during the AllIreland Final
Dublins Johnny Cooper and Mayo’s Andy Moran during the AllIreland Final
Dublins James Mc Carthy and Mayo’s Aidan O’Shea during the AllIreland Final
Dublins Second Goal during the AllIreland Final
Dublins Second Goal during the AllIreland Final
Mayo’s Seamus O’Shea with Dublins Ciaran Kilkenny and Paul Flynn during the AllIreland Final
Aidan O'Shea of Mayo in action against Michael Darragh Macauley of Dublin during the GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship Final match between Dublin and Mayo at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

Sean McGoldrick

This was the GAA's version of the GUBU All-Ireland final: grotesque, unbelievable, bizarre, unprecedented.

But as an organisation the GAA are the big winners as they are guaranteed another multi millon euro pay-day on Saturday week when Dublin and Mayo do battle in the first final replay since 2000.

An own goal is a rare occurrence in Gaelic football. To the best of anybody's knowledge it had never happened before in an All-Ireland final.

But Mayo broke all the records by conceding TWO own goals in the space of 11 minutes in the first half.

Mayo’s Andy Moran and Dublins Cian O’Sullivan during the AllIreland Final
Mayo’s Andy Moran and Dublins Cian O’Sullivan during the AllIreland Final

Kevin McLoughlin and Colm Boyle put the ball past David Clarke in the 10th and 21st minutes respectively which left the score Dublin 2-0 Mayo 0-4.

The 3/1 outsiders then trailed by five points at the break (2-4; 0-5) after being outscored 4-1 during the remainder of the half.

Mayo’s Seamus O’Shea with Dublins Ciaran Kilkenny and Paul Flynn during the All-Ireland Final. Photo: Kyran O'Brien
Mayo’s Seamus O’Shea with Dublins Ciaran Kilkenny and Paul Flynn during the All-Ireland Final. Photo: Kyran O'Brien

Given that the title holders were playing into Hill 16 in the second half, everything pointed to them retaining their title even if their first-half performance was well below par.

They didn't hit their first point of the game until the 30th minute when Dean Rock – who ultimately wobbled badly in the free-taking department missing three kicks – converted a free.

By then the Dubs had lost James McCarthy to a controversial black card. But if anything the resultant reshuffle looked to have favoured Jim Gavin's side as McCarthy's replacement Paddy Andrews tormented the Mayo defence - as he had done in last year's semi-final replay – hitting two late points from play.

Mayo were first out on the field in the second half right from the re-start and they put Dublin on the back foot, reeling off five scores on the trot – three of them from play from Andy Moran, Paddy Durcan and Cillian O'Connor with the team captain also adding a brace of frees to leave the sides level 2-4 to 0-10 after 45 minutes.

Dublin manager Jim Gavin, left, and Mayo manager Stephen Rochford, right, shake hands
Dublin manager Jim Gavin, left, and Mayo manager Stephen Rochford, right, shake hands

All the momentum was now with Mayo but their capacity to make silly mistakes came back to haunt them. Seamus O'Shea – who lost his individual battle with Michael Darragh Macauley – hit an aimless kick into Stephen Cluxton's arms and they had real difficulty in getting any ball to stick when it reached their full forward line.

Incidentally, O'Shea and Macauley were both substituted within a minute of each other in the third quarter though Macauley was almost certainly replaced after he was fortunate not to receive his marching orders for a wild tackle

Even though Dean Rock squandered a chance for Dublin when his rising shot was plucked from under the crossbar by David Clarke, Dublin finally got some momentum in the third quarter with a brace of points from Brian Fenton and Rock to lead by two with 20 minutes left.

Andy Moran had a goal chance two minutes later but his rising shot just slimmed the top of the crossbar and Dublin then got in on the self destruct act, giving away the ball which allowed Alan Dillon kick the equalising point in the 64th minute.

Dublin finally looked to have made a decisive break when they struck three unanswered points from John Small – after Keith Higgins had been caught in traffic and was dispossessed – a Rock free and Diarmuid Connolly's first significant contribution of the game – a point from the wing after David Clarke's attempted short kick out went astray.

Mayo’s Keeper David Clarke and Brendan Harrison in action with Dublins Bernard Brogan during the AllIreland Final
Mayo’s Keeper David Clarke and Brendan Harrison in action with Dublins Bernard Brogan during the AllIreland Final

So Dublin were three points up with two minutes of normal time remaining but with seven minutes of injury time scheduled, there was plenty of football still left to play. And here Mayo's bravery was exceptionally – O'Connor's sixth free and Donal Vaughan's second point from play in the 72nd minute left the minimum between the sides again.

James McCarthy of Dublin watches on from the Hogan Stand after being shown a black card during the GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship Final match between Dublin and Mayo at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Ray McManus/Sportsfile
James McCarthy of Dublin watches on from the Hogan Stand after being shown a black card during the GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship Final match between Dublin and Mayo at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Ray McManus/Sportsfile

Dublin seemed to have weathered the storm but when a sideline from Diarmuid Connolly – who insisted on taking the ball from Ciaran Kilkenny and taking the kick – drifted right and wide it gave Mayo one last chance.

Aidan O'Shea, who had mixed the good with the bad for the proceedings, wrestled control of the kick out and fed Cillian O'Connor who played the captain's role to perfection by driving over a sublime point from 40 metres. It was arguably the score of the game and while there was time for another mini-row there was no more for any more meaningful play.

So for the first time since 2000 and for only the fourteenth time in the history of the All-Ireland series the final ended in a draw.

Mayo’s Keeper David Clarke and Brendan Harrison in action with Dublins Bernard Brogan during the AllIreland Final
Mayo’s Keeper David Clarke and Brendan Harrison in action with Dublins Bernard Brogan during the AllIreland Final

Mayo were previously involved in an infamous All-Ireland final replay in 1996 when they lost to Meath but this is Dublin's first experience of a drawn All-Ireland decider since 1894.

The replay is scheduled for Saturday, October 1.

This is the second season in a row that Dublin and Mayo finished level in the championship. In last year's semi-final a three goal burst from Dublin in the final quarter enabled them to beat Mayo in a replayed semi-final.

Bernard Brogan of Dublin celebrates after his side's first goal during the GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship Final match between Dublin and Mayo at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Ray McManus/Sportsfile
Bernard Brogan of Dublin celebrates after his side's first goal during the GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship Final match between Dublin and Mayo at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Ray McManus/Sportsfile

Dublin also beat the Connacht side in the 1955 and 1985 All-Ireland final replays.

Overall neither team did enough to win. Mayo got their defensive match-ups spot on; Lee Keegan restricted Diarmuid Connolly to a point, though he got little opportunity to attack apart from winning a first half free.

Paul Flynn and Bernard Brogan were both held scoreless, neither finished the game and it will be interesting to see whether they will start in the replay.

Kevin McManamon failed to make an impact and was the first Dublin player to be substituted and he may be held in reserve the next day.

Mayo were guilty of making a series of unenforced errors – conceding two own goals was catastrophic by any standards. Ironically, in the case of McLoughlin's, David Clarke looked to have saved the day with a brilliant save from Fenton. The rebound fell to Brogan who shot was going across the goal until it struck McLoughlin's outstretched foot.

But it it was Fenton's unchecked run through the centre – he lost Donie Vaughan – which created the chance after Macauley had caught a long kick out from Stephen Cluxton.

The second goal also originated deep in the Dublin half when Keith Higgins gave away the ball, though the Mayo defence still had two men on Dean Rock when a free from Diarmuid Connolly dropped into the danger zone. Yet it ended up with Boyle putting the ball past Clarke after Rock actually dropped the ball.

Dublin did extend their unbeaten run in league and championship to 28 games but they gave a very flat performance. They showed all the signs of a side who believed the pre-match hype which made them red hot favourites and they never hit top gear – or perhaps more accurately ever never allowed hit top form.

The misty rain made conditions difficult and as a match it fell short of expectations. But the drama and tension was almost unbearable.

Mayo's long wait for Sam goes on but given the circumstances one suspects they were happy to earn a second chance.

The official attendance was 82,257

Dublin: S Cluxton; P McMahon, J Cooper, D Byrne; J McCarthy, C O'Sulivan, J Small (0-1); B Fenton (0-1), MD Macauley; R Flynn, K McManamon, C Kilkenny; D Rock (0-4, 3f), D Connolly (0-1) B Brogan. Subs: P Andrews (0-2) for McCarthy (BC) 24m; P Mannion for McManamon 47m, M Fitzsimons for Macauley 53m, E O'Gara for Brogan 62m; D Daly for Byrne 66m, D Bastick for Flynn 74m.

Mayo: D Clarke; B Harrision, D Vaughan (0-2), K Higgins; L Keegan, C Boyle (1-0 og), P Durcan (0-1); S O'Shea, T Parsons (0-1); K McLoughlin (1-0 og), A O'Shea, D O'Connor; J Doherty (0-1), A Moran (0-2), C O'Connor (0-7,5f) Subs: A Dillon (0-1) for S O'Shea 54m, C Barrett for Boyle 58m; B Moran for Dillon 67m, S Coen for D O'Connor 67m, E Regan for A Moran 71; C Loftus for Regan 79m

Referee: Conor Lane (Cork)

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