Saturday 18 January 2020

Loftus strikes late to see off Dublin and set up final clash with Rebels

Mayo 1-15 Dublin 1-14

Mayo players Michael Plunkett and Barry Duffy celebrate after the game Photo: Sam Barnes / SPORTSFILE
Mayo players Michael Plunkett and Barry Duffy celebrate after the game Photo: Sam Barnes / SPORTSFILE
Dublin's Kieran Doherty is tackled by Mayo's Shairoze Akram Photo: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE
Mayo's Liam Irwin tries to hold off a challenge from Dublin's Michael Deegan Photo: Sam Barnes / SPORTSFILE Newsdesk Newsdesk

Two Conor Loftus frees in added-time saw Mayo advance to the All-Ireland under 21 final at O'Connor Park yesterday. Con O'Callaghan's goal ten minutes into the second half helped Dublin overturn a six-point half-time deficit to lead by four with 12 minutes remaining, but Mayo staged an inspired retaliation in the last nine minutes to reach their first decider in the grade in ten years.

It was an impressive opening half from the Connacht champions and they were deserving of their 1-7 to 0-4 - Diarmuid O'Connor with the goal - lead at the interval. Dublin didn't score from play until the last minute of the half, but that score from O'Callaghan and another seconds later from Glen O'Reilly meant they were not out of range.

Dublin will look to their wayward shooting in the first ten minutes as a major reason to their ultimate defeat. They kicked three wides, one effort dropped short and another shot came back off the post in that time. A free from Loftus in first-half added-time meant Mayo held a lead their positivity deserved, but with Colm Basquel and Michael Deegan to the fore, Dublin came charging back after the break.

Dublin, who have won the All-Ireland U-21 title every second year since 2010, were soon back in the game after points from O'Callaghan and Eoin Murchan, and by the 43rd minute they held a two-point lead and looked certain winners.

Liam Irwin got Mayo back on track with a free nine minutes from time, and he added another two, before Matthew Ruane's levelled matters with a driving score on the run in the 59th minute.

And after Basquel briefly put Dublin ahead in added-time, Loftus showed steady nerves to win in for the Connacht champions with two late frees.

Scorers - Mayo: L Irwin 0-4 (3f), C Loftus 0-4, D O'Connor 1-1, F Boland 0-2; M Ruane, S Coen, S Akram, F Duffy 0-1. Dublin: C O'Callaghan 1-5 (3f); M Deegan, C Basquel 0-3; P Small (1f), E Murchan, G O'Reilly 0-1

Mayo: M Flanagan; E O'Donoghue, S Cunniffe, D Kenny; M Plunkett, M Hall, S Akram; M Ruane, S Coen; F Boland, C Loftus, D O'Connor; L Irwin, F Duffy, B Reape. Subs: E Doran for Cunniffe (h-t), J Carr for Duffy (42), J Kelly for Plunkett (51)

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Dublin: L Molloy; S McMahon, E Smith, S Clayton; C O'Shea M Cahilan, B Howard; A Foley, K Deeley; T Lahiff, C Basquel, G O'Reilly; P Small, C O'Callaghan, M Deegan. Subs: E Murchan for Cahilan (24), D Spillane for Small (37), K Doherty for Deeley (45), A Elliot for O'Reilly (56), D Monaghan for Smith (61)

Referee: N Cullen (Fermanagh)

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