5 talking points from Dublin and Mayo's draw last night in Croke Park

There was plenty to debate after Jim Gavin’s side pegged James Horan’s team back late on.

Stephen Cluxton Dublin captain Stephen Cluxton was sent-off last night. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

1. Cluxton’s moment of madness

Where else can you start but with the major talking point of the night. A moment of madness by Dublin captain Stephen Cluxton resulted in a red card being brandished towards him in the first-half in Croke Park.

Jim Gavin refused to haul him over the coals afterwards in public, saying instead that “we all make mistakes”, but in private you can be sure that he made his displeasure at such needless indiscipline clear.

Luckily for Cluxton it didn’t cost Dublin last night but it might cost them next week. Ballymun Kickhams keeper Sean Currie, a newcomer at this level, looked shaky when he came off the bench to replace him, launching one kickout straight into touch and another one short to gift-wrap Mayo’s second goal.

2. The kicking game

Speaking of kickouts, it’s no secret that Cluxton’s guided missiles were one of Dublin’s big strengths last year and a key tactical concern for teams trying to beat them. They were nowhere near as effective last night and one in particular went straight to Jason Gibbons and was quickly returned for a simple Mayo score.

Cluxton seemed frustrated and maybe that explains, but not excuses, him lashing out at Kevin McLoughlin who tried to knock the ball out of his hands to stop him taking a quick kickout.

Mickey Sweeney Mikey Sweeney shoots home Mayo's second goal. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

3. Costello impresses

The Whitehall Colmcilles youngster cruelly missed out on last year’s All-Ireland run with a broken collar bone but showed last night what he can offer in a forward line already brimming with talent. Jim Gavin gave him his chance instead of Eoghan O’Gara and he repaid it with some important contributions and four points (one free).

Costello has already caught the eye in Croke Park this spring in games for Dublin against Kerry and Cork. Last night he simply continued that form. It’s ominous news for Meath too ahead of Wednesday’s Leinster U21 football final.

4. Mayo’s leaky defence

Mayo have now conceded 13 goals in six games – more than anyone else in Division 1 – and that has to be a major concern for James Horan, particularly as six of last night’s back seven would be considered nailed on starters.

The exception – Aghamore’s Brendan Harrison – was roasted by Alan Brogan and Cormac Costello on a couple of occasions and it was no real surprise that he was replaced at the break.

The manner in which Dublin were able to create goal chances as the game opened up in the final quarter points to a definite need for improvement.

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Eoghan O'Gara Eoghan O'Gara fires to the net for Dublin. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

5. The mental cost of a draw

As far as the race for the semi-finals goes, throwing away a five-point lead in the final minutes wasn’t too costly. A win at home to Derry should be enough to see Mayo through.

But considering their “nearly men” tag, you’d have to wonder about the mental impact of their second half capitulation and their inability to close out a game against 14 men.

They led by six with just over a quarter of an hour to play, and still led by three in injury time. They tried to keep possession and close out the game but couldn’t. Worrying?

‘We all make mistakes in life’ — Dubs boss Jim Gavin on that Cluxton red card

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Niall Kelly

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