'Philly McMahon showed the other side of his game' - Five things we learned from Dublin-Mayo
There was a lot to glean from last week's encounter and Dublin certainly learned their lessons. What did we learn from the Sky Blues 3-15 to 1-14 win over Mayo today.
1) GOALS MAKE GAMES
As notable as the quality and intensity of the first half was the lack of real goal scoring chances for either side.
When Cillian O'Connor slotted his goal, he effectively silenced the Hill and Mayo seemed right there and then to have Dublin at a strong arm's length.
Yet Bernard Brogan's strike, quickly followed by Philly McMahon's sent the Dublin supporters into raptures and provided the sort of lead that allowed Jim Gavin's team to sit and cradle possession, thus drawing Mayo out from their defensive postings.
Their third goal, from Kevin McManamon, was a classic of the genre.
2) PHILLY MCMAHON IS ONE OF THE MOST UNDERRATED FOOTBALLERS IN IRELAND
A villain in the eyes of many Mayo followers last week for his robust and invasive marking job on Aidan O'Shea, McMahon showed the other side of his game in Croke Park today.
He scored 1-2, might have had another goal had he not fumbled a pass in the first half and frequently gave Dublin an 'out' when their methodical approach play hit a green and red wall.
While he tested the patience of referee Eddie Kinsella for protesting too much after two first half Mayo frees that were, as a result, moved further inside Cillian O'Connor's comfort zone, McMahon was arguably the most influential component of Dublin's win.
3) DUBLIN'S ATTACK ISN'T AS THIN AS IT'S MADE OUT TO BE
Much newsprint this week analysed Dublin's relative paucity of attacking options in reserve, with the absences of both Eoghan O'Gara and Paul Mannion from the squad this season.
In a game when Diarmuid Connolly appeared to look fatigued from his appeal saga, when Paul Flynn was oddly out of sorts and when Bernard Brogan only saw slim and fleeting space or possession, Paddy Andrews had a day of days, kicking five points from play.
Ciarán Kilkenny continued his recent good form and both McManamon and Alan Brogan made notable impacts when they came on.
4) IT DOESN’T GET ANY EASIER FOR MAYO
Beaten All-Ireland finalists in 2012 and ‘13, Mayo have now lost two semi-finals in successive years after replays.
On the one hand, it seems inconceivable that footballers of the obvious calibre of Lee Keegan, Cillian O'Connor, Aidan O'Shea and Keith Higgins wont make the summit at some stage in their careers but these losses and the gut-wrenching nature of them have to be taking their toll.
As Dublin accelerated away into an All-Ireland final, so to did Mayo's Sam Maguire famine stretched to 65 years.
5) DUBLIN ARE BETTER FOR THEIR WOBBLES
The lift Dublin will get from yesterday is incalculable.
Prior to last week's draw, they barely had to stretch their legs to win in Leinster and against Fermanagh in the All-Ireland quarter-final. And having diced with death in the drawn match, Gavin's team were clearly more tuned in.
The way they closed out the game here, a marked contrast to last weeks' late panic.
Kerry might have two weeks headstart in preparing for the All-Ireland final but you can't buy the sort of momentum Dublin have behind them now.
Ergo, in theory at least, we should have a brilliant All-Ireland final when football's most storied rivalry gets another chapter on September 20th.