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Memory lane: Fifth time lucky as Donegal oust Mayo in All-Ireland semis, August 1992

As Donegal and Mayo prepare to meet in Sunday’s All-Ireland final, we turn the clock back for a look at their only previous Championship encounter.

Donegal’s Anthony Molloy goes to ground with Liam McHale of Mayo in close attention (©INPHO/Billy Stickland).

1992 All-Ireland semi-final: Donegal 0-13 Mayo 0-9

IN HIS MATCH report, Irish Times sportswriter Paddy Downey described the 1992 All-Ireland semi-final between Donegal and Mayo as “the poorest ever played.”

That these two might get stagefright on an August Sunday was hardly a surprise; final appearances were something of a rarity for them and their long-suffering fans. The 1989 defeat against Cork was Mayo’s only return since the back-to-back glory of 1950 and ’51; for Donegal it was a fifth semi-final and a chance to succeed where they had failed four times in the past.

With either Dublin or Clare awaiting the winner, Donegal were easily the better of the two and yet still left the match hanging in the balance right until the final whistle, frittering away chance after chance as they racked up the wide count. Had Liam McHale’s punched effort not come back off Gary Walsh’s crossbar in the 18th minute it might have been a different story, but Donegal rode their luck and plodded on.

The game was level at 0-6 at the break but after the restart, Donegal’s midfield superiority really began to show and they tightened the screw, aided by three pointed frees from substitute Manus Boyle.

That Martin McHugh, later to be crowned Footballer of the Year, chose to point a penalty in injury-time rather than go for goal mattered little at that late stage. Donegal’s job was done, however excruciating it had been to watch for those clad in green and gold.

“Nothing in my career could surpass this moment, nothing as either a player or a manager,” manager Brian McEniff said afterwards. Little did he know what unparalleled joy awaited weeks later.

Donegal’s Tony Boyle powers past Peter Ford of Mayo (©INPHO/Billy Stickland).

Donegal scorers: D Bonner 0-4 (0-3f, 0-1 50′); M Boyle 0-3 (0-3f); T Boyle, J McHugh (0-1f) 0-2 each; M McHugh (0-1 pen), B Murray 0-1 each.

Mayo scorers: J Jennings 0-4 (0-4f); R Dempsey 0-2 (0-1f); S Maher, L McHale, A Finnerty 0-1 each.

Donegal: G Walsh; B McGowan, M Gallagher, N Hegarty; D Reid, M Gavigan, M Shovlin; A Molloy (c), B Murray; J McMullan, M McHugh, T Ryan; D Bonner, T Boyle, J McHugh. Substitutes: M Boyle for McMullan; B Cunningham for Ryan.
Mayo: G Irwin; K Beirne, P Ford (c), D Flanagan; A McGarry, T Tierney, P Butler; S Maher, TJ Kilgallon; J Jennings, K Staunton, T Morley; R Dempsey, L McHale, A Finnerty. Substitutes: N Durkin for Finnerty; P Brogan for Maher.

Referee: T Sugrue (Kerry)

Attendance: 49,666

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About the author:

Niall Kelly

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