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Dublin: 12 °C Tuesday 13 November, 2018
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Late Loftus point stuns Dublin as Mayo book first All-Ireland U21 final in a decade

There was a dramatic end to this afternoon’s EirGrid All-Ireland U21 football semi-final at O’Connor Park in Tullamore.

Sweetest thing: Mayo's Matthew Ruane celebrates.
Sweetest thing: Mayo's Matthew Ruane celebrates.
Image: Donall Farmer/INPHO

Mayo 1-15
Dublin 1-14

By Jackie Cahill at O’Connor Park, Tullamore

CONOR LOFTUS SNATCHED a dramatic victory for Mayo in the fifth minute of stoppage time at the end of this afternoon’s EirGrid All-Ireland U21 football semi-final against Dublin.

Loftus held his nerve to convert the winning free after Young Footballer of the Year Diarmuid O’Connor was hauled down by Dublin’s Tom Lahiff.

That Loftus free, his fourth successful effort, sealed glory for Mayo in a fixture they almost threw away.

Leading by six points at half-time, Mayo fell four points behind with 12 minutes remaining before rousing themselves for a stirring finish.

Dublin, inspired by Con O’Callaghan, Colm Basquel and Michael Deegan, quickly overturned their half-time deficit and looked to have put themselves in a matchwinning position.

Trailing by 0-4 to 1-7 at the break, Dublin were level at 1-8 apiece within ten minutes of the restart.

Dublin’s leading scorer Con O’Callaghan struck the 40th minute goal, finishing off a flowing move that also involved Glenn O’Reilly and Basquel.

Dublin then moved into a four-point advantage, 1-13 to 1-9, before Mayo rallied for that final push.

Three Liam Irwin frees and a Matthew Ruane point brought Mayo level before Basquel edged Dublin back in front.

But after Loftus sent over the equalising free in the third minute of stoppage time, the Crossmolina man had one final chance to send Mayo through to a first EirGrid All-Ireland U21 decider since 2006, which he duly took.

Dublin were down by seven points against Kildare and looked to have pulled off another great survival act but Mayo had enough in the tank to advance to the decider on 30 April. 

That man O’Connor contributed 1-1 of Mayo’s first half tally and Michael Solan’s charges got off to the ideal start.

Fionan Duffy with Eoin Smith Mayo's Fionán Duffy tries to evade the attentions of Dublin defender Eoin Smith. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

Indeed, Mayo were 1-4 to 0-0 clear before Dublin registered their opening score of the game, courtesy of O’Callaghan’s free in the 16th minute.

O’Callaghan was also responsible for Dublin’s first score from play of the first half, on the half hour mark, before Glenn O’Reilly added another for Dublin.

Loftus kicked his second free to hand Mayo a comfortable interval lead and it was no more than their adventure deserved.

Shairoze Akram with Killian Deeley Shairoze Akram kicked a first half point for Mayo. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

Right from the start, Mayo attacked with intent and Fergal Boland’s second minute point had them in front.

Fionán Duffy added another before O’Connor struck for goal in the tenth minute, lifting a fisted effort over the head of Lorcan Molloy from Liam Irwin’s pass.

Captain Stephen Coen and Shairoze Akram added further points for the rampant Connacht champions before Dublin finally opened their account.

Paddy Small added a free three minutes after O’Callaghan’s but points from O’Connor and Loftus (free) had Mayo 1-6 to 0-2 clear before a brief Dublin rally approaching the break.

Scorers for Mayo: Diarmuid O’Connor 1-1, Liam Irwin (3f) & Conor Loftus (4f) 0-4 each, Fergal Boland 0-2, Shairoze Akram, Matthew Ruane, Stephen Coen & Fionán Duffy 0-1 each.

Scorers for Dublin: Con O’Callaghan 1-5 (0-3f), Colm Basquel & Michael Deegan 0-3 each, Eoin Murchan, Glenn O’Reilly & Paddy Small (f) 0-1 each.

Mayo

1. Mattie Flanagan (Balla)

4. Eoin O’Donoghue (Belmullet)
3. Séamus Cunniffe (Ballaghaderreen)
5. David Kenny (Aghamore)

11. Michael Plunkett (Ballintubber)
6. Michael Hall (Breaffy)
7. Shairoze Akram (Ballaghaderreen)

8. Matthew Ruane (Breaffy)
9. Stephen Coen (Hollymount/Carramore – captain)

10. Fergal Boland (Aghamore)
18. Conor Loftus (Crossmolina)
12. Diarmuid O’Connor (Ballintubber)

13. Liam Irwin (Breaffy)
15. Fionán Duffy (Crossmolina)
14. Brian Reape (Moy Davitts)

Subs: 

2. Eddie Doran (Achill) for Cunniffe (half-time)
17. James Carr (Ardagh) for Duffy (42)
22. James Kelly (Belmullet) for Plunkett (51)

Dublin

1. Lorcan Molloy (St Anne’s)

6. Seán McMahon (Raheny)
7. Eoin Smith (Skerries Harps)
3. Shane Clayton (Ballyboden St Enda’s)

5. Cillian Shea (Kilmacud Crokes)
4. Martin Cahilan (Cuala)
11. Brian Howard (Raheny)

12. Killian Deeley (Na Fianna)
8. Andrew Foley (Clontarf - joint captain)

19. Tom Lahiff (St Jude’s)
10. Colm Basquel (Ballyboden St Enda’s)
17. Glenn O’Reilly (Na Fianna)

24. Paddy Small (Ballymun Kickhams)
14. Con O’Callaghan (Cuala)
23. Michael Deegan (Donaghmore Ashbourne)

Subs: 

2. Eoin Murchan (Na Fianna - joint captain) for Cahilan (24)
15. Darragh Spillane (Cuala) for Small (37)
22. Kieran Doherty (St Jude’s) for Deeley (46)
20. Aaron Elliot (Ballymun Kickhams) for O’Reilly (56)
18. Declan Monaghan (Clontarf) for Smith (60+2)

Referee: Niall Cullen (Fermanagh).

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