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5 talking points after dominant Dublin blow Mayo away at Croke Park

No disputing Dublin’s 12-point win last night.

Dublin's Dean Rock escapes from Mayo's Colm Boyle.
Dublin's Dean Rock escapes from Mayo's Colm Boyle.
Image: INPHO

1. Dublin deliver an ominous statement of intent

A routine win over Cavan, digging out a draw against Tyrone and being pegged back by Donegal – those have been the features of Dublin’s 2017 league campaign to date. But last night was when they upped the ante and delivered a crushing win that vaults them to the top of the table.

Considering they only had seven of the starters from last October’s All-Ireland final replay win, this was hugely impressive stuff. The quality of their defending was exceptional and the manner in which they put the game to bed in the early stages of the second half, was a salient reminder of their ruthless streak ahead of the rest of this season.

2. Mayo’s losing run to Jim Gavin teams continues

This game was viewed as an ideal chance for Mayo to lay down a marker and claim a timely win over Dublin. Instead it proved a chastening experience, they were wiped out long before the final whistle.

That’s an 11th game between league and championship now that they have failed to defeat Dublin since the 2012 All-Ireland semi-final. Jim Gavin has presided over that run, administering eight defeats to Mayo sides. That sequence may nag at Mayo but of more pressing concern will be a response to this strikingly listless display.

Two years ago Mayo got trounced by 14 points in the league in Castlebar by Dublin. By the following August they pushed Dublin to the wire in the All-Ireland semi-final. They’ll chase a similar rate of improvement.

Eric Lowndes with Cillian O’Connor Cillian O'Connor under pressure from the Dublin defence Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

3. The contrast in scoring 

The bald scoring statistics illustrate plenty about the pluses for Dublin and the problems for Mayo in this encounter. Dublin managed to get 1-3 from play out of Conor McHugh, a corner-forward who did not even make their 26-man panel for last year’s All-Ireland final showdowns. The goal was laid on a plate for him but his three points demonstrated his keen scoring instincts. In sharp contrast, no Mayo forward scored from play.

Indeed it took until the 39th minute for Mayo to get off the mark from play when Stephen Coen knocked one over. By the 46th minute their scoring was done for the night and they finished with just 0-3 from play, a total surpassed by Philly McMahon and Eric Lowndes between them.

The assured manner in which that Dublin defensive duo popped over a combined tally of 0-4, was at odds with Mayo’s rash shooting as they frequently ballooned efforts wildly off target.

Dean Rock gets in a tussle with Diarmuid O’Connor and Keith Higgins Dean Rock gets in a tussle with Diarmuid O'Connor and Keith Higgins Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

4. Clarke’s shot-stopping spares Mayo further pain

He may have had a difficult night from kickouts – for example Dublin tellingly intercepted his kick in the 7th minute and raided for the only goal of the game – but David Clarke did again showcase his shot-stopping prowess.

It’s been a shining feature from him this spring, thwarting David Moran from a penalty in Tralee and protecting his goal excellently with saves against Roscommon last week. He elevated that form in Croke Park last night with that astonishing triple save from Paddy Andrews, blocking a penalty and two rebounds.

There was also a fine stop from Michael Darragh MacAuley in the first half and in general Clarke’s interventions spared Mayo a more punishing defeat.

Paddy Andrews is denied by David Clarke straight after saving a penalty David Clarke denies Paddy Andrews in the second half last night. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

5. Midfield make their mark for Dublin

Dublin’s display last night was wonderfully dynamic as they punched holes in the Mayo defence at will. Mayo simply couldn’t cope with the lines of running Dublin’s players took off the ball and two players hurt them more than most.

Brian Fenton and Michael Darragh MacAuley were the launchpad for Dublin, a midfield duo that were the source of so much of their dominance. A couple of examples stood out in the first half – Fenton gliding through for a move that should have yielded an Eoghan O’Gara goal, MacAuley powering forward later to unleash a drive that was blocked by David Clarke.

Fenton pushed hard for Footballer of the Year in 2016 while MacAuley’s dazzling cameo off the bench was central to the All-Ireland final replay win. On last night’s evidence, they are both intent on hitting high standards in 2017.

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About the author:

Fintan O'Toole

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