Sunday 4 December 2016

Five talking points from Dublin's epic All Ireland win over Mayo

Published 01/10/2016 | 19:20

Dublin's, from left, Michael Darragh Macauley, Cian O'Sullivan, Michael Fitzsimons and Eoghan O'Gara celebrate
Dublin's, from left, Michael Darragh Macauley, Cian O'Sullivan, Michael Fitzsimons and Eoghan O'Gara celebrate

Dublin are a truly great team after securing back-to-back All Ireland titles. Here are five talking points from Croke Park.

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Power of the Dublin bench

It has made the difference so often but especially so here. Michael Darragh MacAuley, dropped beforehand channelled the hurt of that in the right way and rampaged into the game on his 52nd minute introduction, punching holes in a tiring Mayo defence repeatedly.

Bernard Brogan chipped in with a point, Davy Byrne was seamless after he came on for Jonny Cooper but the 'springer,' Cormac Costello, was the one Dublin forward Mayo just didn't have a plan for or a proper reaction to. Costello has been on the periphery for the last two years and has looked to be drifting but a stellar three-point contribution nudged Dublin over the line. By contrast, Mayo just didn't have that impact.

Dublin a truly great team

When the dust settles and the fall-out over card colours and big sideline decisions abate it must be acknowledged that this is a truly great Dublin team. They weren't always at their best over the course of two games with Mayo but they found a way to deliver back-to-back titles, the first time in nine years a county has done so and only the second time in the era of the back door.

It stretches an unbeaten run in league and championship to 29 games now, dating back to early March 2015 and it is the 11th major trophy in 12 that they have won under the management of Jim Gavin. They just have a greater appreciation of where the finishing line is.

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1 October 2016; The Dublin team celebrate with the Sam Maguire cup after the GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship Final Replay match between Dublin and Mayo at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
1 October 2016; The Dublin team celebrate with the Sam Maguire cup after the GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship Final Replay match between Dublin and Mayo at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Black card chaos

In a rivalry that has developed as much spite as this a referee and his officials have almost an impossible task. But Maurice Deegan was playing catch up from the moment John Small got away with a hand trip. Jason Doherty's follow up on Jonny Cooper after Lee Keegan's goal was missed, Cooper's tangle with Donie Vaughan was deemed a deliberate trip but looked marginal, can it really be established that Keegan held up Connolly deliberately? Maybe, maybe not. And that's the point about the sanction.

Connolly and Vaughan both blocked each other's runs off the ball which led to their altercation, technically black cards while John Small attempt to strike Cillian O'Connor as they grappled, a red card offence that was overlooked with yellow instead. But after three seasons now the black card, while improving aspects of the game, is too inconsistent with the crime too often not fitting the punishment. The case for a 'sin bin' simply has to be revisited.

Rob Hennelly for David Clarke

A huge gamble to replace a goalkeeper that had been so influential in the drawn game, apart from a few late kick-outs. But it backfired spectacularly. Hennelly offered no better precision from his kick-outs with his first three landing in Dublin's hands. But his failure to control a Paul Flynn delivery that posed no threat handed Dublin the initiative to give them a three-point lead when Diarmuid Connolly calmly slotted the penalty. Mayo were always chasing after that and, ultimately, this decision has cost them.

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A way back for Mayo

Little consolation for Mayo that they have again fallen short but they can point to moments and decision, before and during the game, where they lost this. More of the big performances from players who started were on the Mayo side and this, more than any of their previous four games since 2012 with Dublin, was the one they should have won.The team is still young enough to come back and, in Patrick Durcan, close to "man of the match" here, and Diarmuid O'Connor they have future leaders.

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