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'Anyone I've met since thought it was very, very harsh' - James Horan laments red card against Dublin

Dublin 1-11 Mayo 0-8

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Agony: Mayo’s Colm Boyle grimaces after suffering a knee injury during Saturday’s defeat to Dublin in Elverys MacHale Park, Castlebar. Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

Agony: Mayo’s Colm Boyle grimaces after suffering a knee injury during Saturday’s defeat to Dublin in Elverys MacHale Park, Castlebar. Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

SPORTSFILE

Agony: Mayo’s Colm Boyle grimaces after suffering a knee injury during Saturday’s defeat to Dublin in Elverys MacHale Park, Castlebar. Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

Over the last seven-and-a-half years, Mayo have found any number of ways to avoid beating Dublin.

Saturday night in Castlebar offered another twist on their recurring saga of Sky Blue suffering.

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Lee Keegan of Mayo in action against Eoin Murchan of Dublin. Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

Lee Keegan of Mayo in action against Eoin Murchan of Dublin. Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

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This time, instead of first half own goals or pivotal second half misses or Con O'Callaghan-inflicted calamities there was an early red card for a young rookie, one that turned a difficult task into a borderline impossible one.

The consequences of Jordan Flynn's ill-judged high tackle on John Small, 14 minutes into the contest, were not immediately felt by Mayo, who led by two points at the time and were hanging onto a similar lead beyond the half-hour.

Long before the final bell, however, it was all too apparent as Dublin cruised past the chequered flag to deliver a first win of the Dessie Farrell era.

New boss, same old story as the Dubs stretched their unbeaten run against the green-and-red to 16 games.

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James McCarthy of Dublin and Diarmuid O'Connor of Mayo tussle. Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

James McCarthy of Dublin and Diarmuid O'Connor of Mayo tussle. Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

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But what about that watershed red?

On replay it looked reckless but not overly aggressive, perhaps more 'orange' than red - but referee Barry Cassidy gestured to his neck, suggesting that he deemed it sufficiently dangerous to warrant the ultimate sanction.

Both managers took the Arsene Wenger approach, although James Horan clearly intimated that yellow would have been the right call.

"Even though it was out in front of me, I didn't really see it because it was sort of after the ball," the Mayo boss said. "I am not sure. Anyone I've met since thought it was very, very harsh, but I will have a look at it later and see.

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David Byrne of Dublin in action against James Durcan of Mayo. Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

David Byrne of Dublin in action against James Durcan of Mayo. Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

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"It was early in the game so it obviously impacts. I thought we started well, I thought we dealt with it well in the first half. I thought our energy in our tackling and everything was good.

"In the third quarter, Dublin got a few early scores and we missed a couple of frees and dropped one short ... that gave them momentum, and then the bodies get a bit tired when that happens.

"But look, overall, I'd be happy with a lot of aspects of the game from our point of view, even though we lost."

Likewise, Farrell said he "struggled" to get a clear view of the red card. "Obviously the Mayo home crowd were very upset with it, and that's just the nature of it. Sometimes those decisions go for you or against you," the Dublin manager mused.

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Michael Plunkett of Mayo in action against Dan O'Brien of Dublin. Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

Michael Plunkett of Mayo in action against Dan O'Brien of Dublin. Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

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"It's interesting to me how discipline seems to be big on the referees' agenda at the minute, and that's obviously something that's coming from on high."

The Mayo ultras in a typically buoyant attendance of 15,148 voiced their displeasure in a chorus of boos as Cassidy exited at half-time, and again on his return. The sending-off wasn't their only bone of contention but, in the cold light of another fruitless day against the Dubs, they might reflect on several other self-inflicted wounds.

Having led by 0-5 to 0-3 after Fergal Boland converted a 32nd minute mark, the hosts were dragged back to parity at the break by a Dublin team infected by an uncharacteristic sloppiness in that first half.

A new half, however, brought with it a restoration of the old order. Dublin won the 'moving' third quarter by 1-3 to no score. And Dean Rock, as only Deano can, poached a 45th minute goal out of thin air - literally.

There appeared little obvious threat as Kevin McManamon crossed from the right corner … but from well outside the near post Rock rose ahead of Pádraig O'Hora to conjure a left-handed flick, the ball looping over Rob Hennelly before it nestled in the far corner. The Mayo 'keeper was blameless here; not so when he spilled a Rock '45' and nearly coughed up a second goal in the process.

Not that it mattered as Dublin eased to victory in second gear. Ciarán Kilkenny pulled the strings. Small's busy contribution was crowned by a point. Fellow half-back James McCarthy doubled that return with one in either half.

For Mayo, who had bristled with early energy, no one more so than Aidan O'Shea, it was all rather predictable. On a slow winter pitch, it was inevitable Mayo's 28 legs would eventually sag - even though numbers were evened up after Mick Fitzsimons was black-carded beyond the hour.

More typically, in the ongoing absence of Cillian O'Connor, Mayo squandered four deadball attempts. They shot twice as many wides, ten to Dublin's five. They went 25 minutes without moving the scoreboard dial - and 42 minutes without scoring from play.

With so many of his veterans currently out of the picture - now to be joined by Colm Boyle after he departed with a worrying knee injury - Horan has leaned heavily on youth in these early spring weeks. "He is sore," Horan confirmed with regards to Boyle. "I don't know what it is but he got a bad knock on his knee, for sure."

Whereas some of his novice backs - notably O'Hora and Oisín Mullin - more than held their own in this vaunted company, his new-look attack revealed some familiar failings. Same old Mayo?

SCORERS - Dublin: D Rock 1-3 (3f); J McCarthy 0-2; C Kilkenny, K McManamon, D O'Brien, N Scully, J Small, A Byrne 0-1 each. Mayo: J Durcan (1f), F Boland (1m) 0-2 each; A O'Shea, D O'Connor (f), J Carr, T Conroy 0-1 each.

DUBLIN - E Comerford 7; M Fitzsimons 6, R O'Carroll 7, D Byrne 7; J Small 7, J McCarthy 8, E Murchan 7; B Fenton 6, B Howard 6; N Scully 7, K McManamon 6, D O'Brien 6; C McHugh 5, C Kilkenny 8, D Rock 7. Subs: P Mannion 6 for McHugh (46), L Flatman 6 for O'Carroll (48), P Small 6 for McManamon (55), A Byrne 7 for O'Brien (57), C O'Shea for Murchan (74).

MAYO - R Hennelly 6; P O'Hora 7, O Mullin 7, B Harrison 6; M Plunkett 6, C Boyle 7, P Durcan 6; S Coen 6, D O'Connor 6; F Boland 7, A O'Shea 7, J Flynn 5; R O'Donoghue 5, J Carr 6, J Durcan 5. Subs: L Keegan 6 for Boyle (inj ht), T Conroy 7 for Carr (ht), K McLoughlin 6 for O'Donoghue (48), J McCormack 6 for O'Shea (55), C Loftus for J Durcan (66).

REF - B Cassidy (Derry).

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