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Mayo claim incredible All-Ireland semi-final win as Dublin's reign as champions ends

A thrilling contest unfolded as the game progressed in Croke Park.

Mayo 0-17

Dublin 0-14

AFTER 45 GAMES unbeaten, the modern kings of Gaelic football were at last beaten in the championship arena.

If anyone was to knock Dublin out, it seemed fitting it would be Mayo.

jordan-flynn-celebrates-at-the-final-whistle Jordan Flynn celebrates at the final whistle. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

An incredible All-Ireland semi-final required extra-time before it generated a winner and eventually it was Mayo’s success-starved players, management and fans who celebrated under the Croke Park floodlights.

Mayo had at last conquered Dublin after so many agonising misses since defeating them in the 2012 All-Ireland semi-final. It takes them one step closer to the ultimate Gaelic football prize and this was an extraordinary semi-final success for the Westerners after they trailed by seven points during the first half and were down six at the break.

But James Horan’s side were terrific thereafter, forcing level in injury-time when goalkeeper Robert Hennelly slotted over a ’45 and then finishing the job in extra-time with their attacking threats of Tommy Conroy and Ryan O’Donoghue catching fire.

cormac-costello-and-paddy-durcan Cormac Costello and Paddy Durcan.

The game looked set to culminate in a different outcome, when judging the first-half play. Dublin were 0-4 to 0-0 in front after 10 minutes, still in control at 0-6 to 0-2 by the first water break. Ciaran Kilkenny looked sharp with a brace of points while Dean Rock had supplied three.

And Dessie Farrell would have been satisfied with the second-quarter exchanges as Dublin continued to dictate the pace of the game. They rattled off three points in a row and it took a Robert Hennelly free in the 30th minute to provide Mayo with some scoring relief as they trailed 0-9 to 0-3. Kilkenny and Conor Loftus swapped points but a margin of six was a fair reflection of Dublin’s early superiority as the teams retired at the interval. So far, so good for the capital kingpins.

john-small-with-ryan-odonoghue-conor-loftus-kevin-mcloughlin-and-diarmuid-oconnor John Small in action against Mayo. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

What ensued in the second half was quite remarkable. Mayo thundered into the match and kept Dublin scoreless in the third quarter. That gave them a genuine foothold in the game, trailing 0-10 to 0-7, but the water break was a timely intervention for Dublin and they slotted two points soon after, courtesy of Paddy Small and Rock.  

Mayo had lost Eoghan McLaughlin during that time frame, John Small escaping sanction for a heavy hit on the Westport man. Dublin kept them at bay and by the 63rd minute, it was 0-12 to 0-7, the type of lead where you would back champions to triumph.

And yet Mayo’s persistence and appetite for the battle did not waver. Diarmuid O’Connor produced a stunning intervention to volley the ball back into play for a Kevin McLoughlin point. That kickstarted a scoring spree with Jordan Flynn, O’Donoghue and Conroy all involved, leaving just the minimum between them.

The atmosphere was electric in injury-time as Mayo’s supporters roared their team on. Dean Rock nervelessly nailed a free in the 71st minute to nudge Dublin ahead by two. Ryan O’Donoghue clipped over a shot at the other end in the 74th minute and Hennelly dug his team out with that ’45 in the last act of normal time.

colm-boyle-celebrates-at-the-final-whistle-with-stephen-coen Mayo players celebrate their success. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

The momentum lay in Mayo’s corner and they held onto it as extra-time commenced. Seán Bugler got clear to fist over a 71st minute point but that proved Dublin’s last score of the match. Conroy exploded into space for a pair of points that put Mayo in front, sandwiching a sin bin for Colm Basquel, another Dublin setback.

Mayo powered on, Darren Coen swinging over a splendid score and O’Donoghue converting another as Dublin’s challenge began to disintegrate. It was 0-17 to 0-14 at the midway mark in extra-time, no more scoreboard activity thereafter. Dublin lost Tom Lahiff and James McCarthy to black cards and the scores they chased to salvage the game, could not be registered against a stubborn Mayo defence.

A famous night for Mayo football and another final awaits.

Scorers for Mayo: Ryan O’Donoghue 0-5 (0-2f, 0-1 mark), Tommy Conroy, Robert Hennelly (0-2f, 0-1 ’45) 0-3 each, Lee Keegan, Matthew Ruane, Conor Loftus, Kevin McLoughlin, Jordan Flynn, Darren Coen 0-1 each.

Scorers for Dublin: Dean Rock 0-7 (0-5f), Ciarán Kilkenny 0-3 (0-1f), Paddy Small 0-2, Con O’Callaghan, Seán Bugler 0-1 each.

Mayo

1. Rob Hennelly (Breaffy)

2. Padraig O’Hora (Ballina Stephenites),  3. Lee Keegan (Westport), 4. Michael Plunkett (Ballintubber)

5. Paddy Durcan (Castlebar Mitchels), 6. Stephen Coen (Hollymount/Carramore), 7. Eoghan McLaughlin (Westport)

8. Matthew Ruane (Breaffy), 9. Conor Loftus (Crossmolina)

10. Diarmuid O’Connor (Ballintubber) 11. Kevin McLoughlin (Knockmore), 12. Darren McHale (Knockmore)

13. Tommy Conroy (The Neale), 14. Aidan O’Shea (Breaffy), 15. Ryan O’Donoghue (Belmullet)

Subs

19. Enda Hession (Garrymore) for McHale (27)

23. Bryan Walsh (Ballintubber) for Plunkett (49)

26. James Carr (Ardagh) for Aidan O’Shea (49)

24. Jordan Flynn (Crossmolina) for McLaughlin (inj) (58)

21. Conor O’Shea (Breaffy) for Loftus (64)

25. Darren Coen (Hollymount-Carramore) for Stephen Coen (76)

9. Loftus for McLoughlin (81)

18. Brendan Harrison (Aghamore) for O’Connor (87)

14. O’Shea for Darren Coen (91)

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Dublin

1. Evan Comerford (Ballymun Kickhams)

2. Michael Fitzsimons (Cuala), 3. David Byrne (Naomh Olaf), 4. Jonny Cooper (Na Fianna)

5. James McCarthy (Ballymun Kickhams), 6. John Small (Ballymun Kickhams), 24. Eoin Murchan (Na Fianna)

8. Brian Fenton (Raheny), 6. Brian Howard (Raheny) 

10. Paddy Small (Ballymun Kickhams), 11. Ciarán Kilkenny (Castleknock), 12. Niall Scully (Templeogue Synge Street)

13. Dean Rock (Ballymun Kickhams), 14. Con O’Callaghan (Cuala), 15. Cormac Costello (Whitehall Colmcille)

Subs

17. Colm Basquel (Ballyboden St-Enda’s) for Costello (49)

21. Tom Lahiff (St Jude’s) for Cooper (51)

19. Seán Bugler (St Oliver Plunkett’s-Eoghan Ruadh) for Scully (62)

7. Seán MacMahon (Raheny) for Murchan (66)

23. Philip McMahon (Ballymun Kickhams) for MacMahon (inj) (76)

22. Robert McDaid (Ballyboden St Enda’s) for John Small (81)

20. Aaron Byrne (Na Fianna) for Howard (82)

15. Costello for Paddy Small (85)

Referee: Conor Lane (Cork)

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About the author:

Fintan O'Toole  / Reports from Croke Park

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