All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Final
By Larry Cooney
At Croke Park
The Sam Maguire Cup is staying in Dublin while a devastated Mayo have been left empty-handed once more in another heart-breaking one-point defeat in an epic final.
A 75th minute free by Dean Rock earned Dublin their third consecutive All-Ireland SFC title following a pulsating 1-17 to 1-16 victory after one of the best ever gaelic football showpieces in modern times.
It will be little consolation for the Westerners to have more than played their part in an unforgettable final that left all but the jubilant Dublin supporters shattered at the final whistle.
Although Mayo won the opening throw-in Dublin got off to a dream start when Con O’Callaghan goaled in the second minute at the Hill 16 end.
Mayo kept calm and gallantly fought their way back to lead by a point at half-time.
But in truth Mayo’s first-half domination was making a mockery of their pre-match 3-1 odds.
The Dubs really looked rattled at times. But they showed great composure and guile to take the lead at the most critical time and prove that this Dublin side is one of the greatest teams.
Mayo set themselves up effectively to put pressure on the Dublin kick-outs and it proved to be a very successful tactic in the first half as Stephen Cluxton was forced to go long on a number of occasions where Tom Parsons in particular was winning a lot of ball.
The match stats also proved that Mayo were the better side throughout the first half, but crucially they only led by a single point at the break, despite being well on top during periods of the opening 35 minutes as well as kicking five very score-able wides.
Dublin’s early goal raised real concern that, just as they did against Tyrone, they could be about to steamroll Mayo, but conceding an early green flag only spurred Mayo on as they kicked the next three points.
First up was the outstanding Andy Moran, followed by points from Donie Vaughan and the hard working Kevin McLoughlin.
Late Dublin inclusion Eoghan O’Gara brought a halt to that scoring run with a fine point in the 16th minute, but four minutes later Mayo were ahead for the first time in the game.
A quick Cillian O’Connor free was played to Andy Moran who returned the ball to O’Connor to effortlessly float the ball over the bar.
Then, despite being marked by two men, Andy Moran found room to kick his second point of the afternoon.
After Dean Rock levelled matters with a pointed free in the 22nd minute, Andy Moran kicked his third point a minute later to make the score Mayo 0-6 Dublin 1-2.
The impressive Jason Doherty got the first of his two scores to edge Mayo two points ahead.
But the Dubs kicked the next two scores as John Small drilled one over from distance, before Rock found himself in acres of space to take his time and point.
Doherty fired over his second point in the 28th minute before Colm Boyle joined the attack to kick a superb score as half-time beckoned for a two-point lead.
Referee Joe Mc- Quillan was then the centre of attention on many occasions throughout the first half and the last score came from a dubious decision to award a free to Dublin 40 metres from goal, which Rock converted to leave the half time score: Mayo 0-9 Dublin 1-5.
Paddy Andrews had collided with team mate Ciaran Kilkenny but a Mayo defender was adjudged to have fouled Kilkenny.
Mannion had the sides level just after the break, but an O’Connor free had Mayo back in front a minute later. Rock from play and sub Kevin McManamon made it 1-08 to 0-10 by the 40th minute.
Then a crucial spell in the game as Cluxton saved well from Doherty when one-onone before David Clarke produced a great save from Mannion who pointed from the follow up.
Both sides were reduced to 14 men when Small received a second yellow card for a challenge on Boyle and Vaughan was given a straight red card for retaliation.
Brian Fenton flicked over a further point for Dublin to make it 1-10 to 0-11 by the 50th minute mark and it looked as if they would kick on from there. O’Connor (free) and James McCarthy exchanged scores.
But in the 54th, Mayo were suddenly back in the lead when Keegan accepted a clever pass from Moran before blasting past Cluxton at the Hill 16 end. Half-time substitute Diarmuid Connolly scored a fine point in the 56th minute that was immediately cancelled out by Kevin McLoughlin.
Rock fisted over an equaliser with 13 minutes to go. But with Cillian O’Connor kicking two points, including one from a free and one from play, Mannion, who had an impressive second half, also scored from play.
Man-of-the-match James McCarthy scored his second point to make it 1-15 each with five minutes remaining.
But as Rock and O’Connor swapped points there was a seven-minute wait before Rock kicked his dramatic late winner from a placed ball inside the 45 metre line into the Davin End to leave the final score: Dublin 1-17 Mayo 1-16.
SCORERS: DUBLIN: Dean Rock 0-7(0-3)f; Con O’Callaghan 1-0, Paul Mannion 0-3; James McCarthy 0-2; John Small, Eoghan O’Gara, Kevin McManamon, Brian Fenton, Diarmuid Connolly 0-1 each.
MAYO: Cillian O’Connor 0-7(0- 4)f; Andy Moran 0-3; Lee Keegan 1-0; Jason Doherty, Kevin McLoughlin 0-2 each; Donal Vaughan and Colm Boyle 0-1 each.
DUBLIN: Stephen Cluxton; Jonny Cooper, Philip McMahon, Michael Fitzsimons; John Small, Cian O’Sullivan, Jack McCaffrey; Brian Fenton, James McCarthy; Ciaran Kilkenny, Dean Rock, Con O’Callaghan; Paddy Andrews, Eoghan O’Gara, Paul Mannion. SUBS: Paul Flynn for McCaffrey 8; Diarmuid Connolly for Andrews h/t; Kevin McManamon for O’Gara h/t; Bernard Brogan for Paul Flynn 64; Niall Scully for O’Callaghan 68; Cormac Costello for Mannion 73.
MAYO: David Clarke, Chris Barrett, Brendan Harrison, Paddy Durcan; Lee Keegan, Keith Higgins, Colm Boyle; Seamus O’Shea, Tom Parsons; Kevin McLoughlin, Aidan O’Shea, Donal Vaughan; Jason Doherty, Cillian O’Connor Andy Moran. SUBS: Diarmuid O’Connor for Seamus O’Shea 50; Stephen Coen for Boyle 55; Conor Loftus for Andy Moran; David Drake for Doherty 69; Danny Kirby for McLoughlin 74; Ger Cafferkey for Higgins 74.
REFEREE: Joe McQuillan (Cavan).