Diarmuid O'Connor shines as Mayo secure U-21 All Ireland final place following dramatic win over Dublin
Mayo 1-15 Dublin 1-14
MAYO fashioned a sensational win over Dublin to reach their first All-Ireland U-21 final since 2006 in Tullamore.
Leading by six points at the break Mayo found themselves four points in appears with 12 minutes left. But when all seemed lost the Connacht champions fought back outscoring Dublin 5-2 in a thrilling finish to snatch the win with a pointed free from Conor Loftus in the fifth minute of injury time.
It was Dublin's second successive All-Ireland semi-final loss in the grade having lost to Tipperary in 2015 but having got into a winning position they failed to hold on.
Mayo dominated early on and decorated their work with a brilliant tenth minute goal. It was created by Kevin Loftus and Liam Irwin with the latter's hand pass being palmed first time to the net by senior player Diarmuid O'Connor.
By the 15th minute the Connacht champions are 1-5 to no score ahead before Dublin finally opened with account with a O'Callaghan free.
Dublin were finding it difficult to penetrate their opponent's massed defence. Mayo's scoring rate slowed in the second quarter though O'Connor underlined his class with a brilliant individual point eight minutes from the break.
The poverty of the Dublin effort was underlined that they didn't hit their first point from play until 45 seconds before the end of the first half through O'Callaghan who did look to have the beating of full back Seamus Cunniffe.
Overall though given how poorly Dublin were fortunate to be only trailing by just six points at the break (1-7; 0-4). Within 90 seconds of the resumption it was game on as points from O'Callaghan and first half substitute Eoin Murchan brought the gap back to four.
Even though Liam Irwin hit a Mayo point in the 40th minute it was advantage Dublin who – aided by the breeze – started to pour forward. They reduced the gap to three points with a free from O'Callaghan and Ballyboden's Colm Basquel.
Then they struck for a crucial goal in the 40th minute with Glenn O'Reilly's surging run created the initial opening; Basquel held up the ball well before picking out O'Callaghan who expertly picked up his spot.
A point immediate afterwards from Michael Deegan gave Dublin the lead for the first time afterwards and by the with the latter adding two more points from play Dublin had stretched their lead by four in the 48th minute.
Even though the referee earned the wrath of the Mayo fans on two occasions by not awarding their side kickable free three converted placed balls from Liam Irwin left the minimum between the sides. The momentum was now with Mayo and midfielder Matthew Ruane kicked a brilliant equaliser.
Back came Dublin with Basquel putting them in front again but Mayo – who won the Connacht title in the dying seconds – finished in style. Diarmaid O'Connor won a dubious free which which Conor Loftus nailed and we looked to be heading for extra time.
But in the fourth minute of added time it all went horribly wrong for Dublin who coughed up possession deep in their own half after a throw-in. They compounded that mistake by fouling O'Connor in the next play and Loftus held his nerve to drive the ball high over the bar for a sensational winner.
Dublin: L Molloy; S McMahon, E Smith, S Clayton; C O'Shea, M Cahilan, B Howard; , K Deeley; A Foley; T Lahiff, C Basquel (0-3), G O'Reilly (0-1); P Small (0-1, 1f), C O'Callaghan (1-5, 3f), M Deegan (0-3). Subs: E Murchan (0-1)for Cahilan 25m, D Spillane for Small 43m; K Doherty for Deeley 46m; A Elliott for O'Reilly 56m; D Monaghan for Smith 60m.
Mayo: M Flanagan; E O'Donoghue, S Cunniffe, D Kenny; M Plunkett, M Hall, S Akram (0-1); M Ruane (0-1), S Coen (0-1); F Boland (0-2), C Loftus (0-4, 4f), D O'Connor (1-1); L Irwin (0-4, 3f), B Reape, F Duffy (0-1) Subs E Doran for Cunniffe ht; J Carr for Duffy 47m; J Kelly for Plunkett 52m;
Referee: N Cullen (Fermanagh)