Dublin secure back-to-back All Ireland titles with one-point victory over Mayo in titanic battle
Dublin 1-15 Mayo 1-14
AN EVENING of the highest drama, tension and excitement in Croke Park ended with Dublin securing their first All-Ireland senior football double since 1977, leaving Mayo once again mired in the deepest frustration as their attempt to end a 65-year drought came up agonisingly short.
Mayo had a chance to level it up five minutes into stoppage time, but Cillian O’Connor, who had earlier pointed nine frees, pulled his 10th effort just wide of the post.
It was heart-breaking for Mayo as once again their bid to end decades of disappointment took them right to the edge before scorning them.
An incident five minutes into the second half had a crucial bearing on the outcome of a smashing contest where the overall standard was far superior to the drawn game.
It was level in the 40th when minute when Mayo goalkeeper, Robert Hennelly came out to collect a Dublin delivery that fell short. However, he lost control of the ball, spilling it to Paddy Andrews, who was dragged down as he prepared to shoot for goal.
Hennelly was black-carded for the offence by referee, Maurice Deegan, who awarded Dublin a penalty. Diarmuid Connolly fired the spot kick past sub goalkeeper, David Clarke, giving Dublin a three-point lead. It would later be cut to two points on four occasions, but Mayo just couldn’t draw level as Dublin’s rearguard held out under intense pressure.
The defence lost full-back Jonny Cooper on a black card in the 20th minute and Mayo suffered a similar loss just before half-time when Lee Keegan was sent off - also on a black card.
Dublin made three changes to their announced team, including the omission of Bernard Brogan, who for so long has been their marquee forward. Michael Darragh Macauley and David Byrne were also left out, with Michael Fitzsimons, Paddy Andrews and Paul Mannion coming into a starting fifteen, where Paul Flynn moved to midfield alongside Brian Fenton.
Mayo also made a surprise change, with Hennelly replacing Clarke in goal.
Dublin sprinted from the starting blocks, running in four points in the open six minutes, leaving Mayo facing an early test of their character and their systems.
The response was good and they were back level by the 11th minute. Dublin pulled two points clear but were rocked back in the 18th minute when Aidan O’Shea placed Lee Keegan, whose superb finish beat Dublin goalkeeper, Stephen Cluxton.
They sides were level on two occasions over the next 12 minutes before Dublin moved two points clear with points from Dean Rock and Diarmuid Connolly. Cillian O’Connor closed out the scoring off a free, leaving Dublin leading by 0-10 to 1-6.
The second-half was even (Dublin 1-5 Mayo 0-8), leaving Dublin with the slimmest of advantages in a hectic finish as they clinched their fourth All-Ireland title in six seasons.
A crucial influence on Dublin success was the introduction of Brogan and Cormac Costello in the second half. Costello kicked three points and Brogan added one while Mayo were largely reliant on O’Connor’s accuracy from frees.
He is one of the best dead-ball kickers in the game but unfortunately for him and Mayo, his touch deserted him with his last attempt when a point would almost certainly have sent the game into extra-time.
The attendance was 82,249
Dublin scorers: D Rock 0-9 (7f), D Connolly 1-1 (1-0 pen), C Costello 0-3, K McManamon, B Brogan 0-1 each.
Mayo scorers: C O’Connor 0-9 (9f), L Keegan 1-0, P Durcan 0-2, A Moran, D O’Connor, K McLoughlin 0-1 each.
DUBLIN: S Cluxton; P McMahon, J Cooper, M Fitzsimons; J McCarthy, C O’Sullivan, J Small; B Fenton, P Flynn; P Andrews, K McManamon, C Kilkenny; D Rock, D Connolly, P Mannion.
Subs: D Byrne for Cooper (20 black card), B Brogan for Andrews (47), MD Macauley for Mannion (52), C Costello for McManamon (56), E Lowndes for Small (60), D Daly for O’Sullivan (72).
MAYO: Rob Hennelly, Brendan Harrison, Donal Vaughan, Keith Higgins; Lee Keegan, Colm Boyle, Patrick Durcan; Seamus O’Shea, Tom Parsons; Kevin McLoughlin, Aidan O’Shea, Diarmuid O’Connor; Jason Dohert, Andy Moran, Cillian O’Connor
Subs: S Coen for Keegan (35 black card), C O’Shea for Vaughan (ht), D Clarke for Hennelly (41 black card), B Moran for A Moran (55), A Dillon for Doherty (60),
Referee - M Deegan (Laois)