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Cillian O'Connor strikes 4-9 as Mayo cruise past Tipperary to reach All-Ireland final

James Horan’s side cruised into the decider on 19 December.

Cillian O'Connor bags Mayo's first goal.
Cillian O'Connor bags Mayo's first goal.
Image: Bryan Keane/INPHO

Mayo 5-20
Tipperary 3-13

AT THE CLOSE of the strangest football year, we are left with a familiar modern pairing to round it all off.

Mayo set up another All-Ireland senior football decider with Dublin after they routed Tipperary in today’s second semi-final.

It could be argued more accurately that Cillian O’Connor was responsible for his team delivering a beating by 13 points. The attacker produced one of the great exhibitions of marksmanship in Croke Park as he amassed 4-9. He was in a devastating mood in firing home 4-3 of that tally from play. By the 30th minute O’Connor had notched a hat-trick while his brother Diarmuid got in on the goalscoring act before half-time as well. 

That scoring surge in the second quarter essentially killed off this encounter. Mayo were four points to the good, 1-6 to 1-2, after the opening water break but had accelerated clear by 4-12 to 1-5 at the interval. It made sense then to stick a fork in this contest.

Tipperary battled away to the bitter end amidst the freezing fog in Croke Park. Conor Sweeney finished with 1-9 to his name, Brian Fox and Paudie Feehan had raised green flags in either half. But they were soundly defeated and there was to be no repeat of their uplifting joy when winning the Munster final a fortnight ago.

It was a freakish game in ways with eight goals produced and Tipperary spurning a bunch of other chances to hit the net. The final analysis had Tipperary raising three green flags from ten opportunities they had created. A couple of early misses proved costly with David Clarke smothering a Michael Quinlivan close-range effort and then saving a blast by Conor Sweeney inside the opening nine minutes.

padraig-ohora-and-conor-sweeney Mayo's Padraig O'Hora and Tipperary's Conor Sweenety.

Mayo put on a clinical showing at the other end in response. O’Connor palmed home their first goal in the 9th minute, finishing off a lovely team move which had Aidan O’Shea and Tommy Conroy, a youngster that impressed here with his return of 0-4. The frenzied start to the match culminated with Brian Fox cutting through to prod home a left-foot shot in the 10th minute, the ball just rolling over the line before it was cleared.

Tipperary got little impetus from that goal. Mayo were moving sharper in attack, O’Connor reeling off points while Conroy was in lively form and the team’s attacking interplay was rewarded for its’ patience. The gap started to grow and then Mayo really inflicted damage after O’Connor crashed through for his 25th minute goal.

The nightmare half continued for Tipperary when Liam Casey’s pass back to goalkeeper Evan Comerford was intercepted by O’Connor’s fist for the third goal after a half hour and Diarmuid rose to touch home a Cillian ’45 in first-half injury time. Mayo had done the hard work, that powerful phase propelled the Connacht champions into a position they were never going to relinquish.

diarmuid-oconnor-and-steven-obrien Mayo's Diarmuid O'Connor and Tipperary's Steven O'Brien. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Tipperary were staring at a 16-point deficit and the gulf between the teams widened in the third quarter when O’Connor lashed home a left-foot shot in front of Hill 16 after Kevin McLoughlin pumped in a delivery. It was proving a chastening experience for David Power’s side as they trailed 5-17 to 1-9 by the three-quarter mark.

They stuck at it and cut Mayo open frequently as the game became ragged in the closing stages. Paudie Feehan got in to boot home a 55th minute goal and Sweeney neatly side-stepped Lee Keegan before smashing home a strike that he deserved for his efforts in a game where his free-taking hit the high notes.

But it was damage limitation stuff, Mayo popped over points here and there with Darren Coen coming off the bench to bag a brace. The planning for the final could start long before the final whistle.

It’s the fourth time in eight seasons that Mayo and Dublin will duel it out to determine the destination of Sam Maguire. With eight previous championship meetings since 2012, the pair are well-acquainted. Mayo will be underdogs but they certainly booked their final spot in style.

Scorers for Mayo: Cillian O’Connor 4-9 (0-6 frees), Tommy Conroy 0-4 (0-1 mark), Diarmuid O’Connor 1-0, Darren Coen 0-2, Patrick Durcan, Conor Loftus, Matthew Ruane, Kevin McLoughlin, Aidan O’Shea 0-1 each.

Scorers for Tipperary:Conor Sweeney 1-9 (0-8 frees), Brian Fox, Paudie Feehan 1-0 each, Colin O’Riordan 0-2, Kevin Fahey, Steven O’Brien 0-1 each.

Mayo

1. David Clarke (Ballina Stephenites)

2. Oisin Mullin (Kilmaine)
4. Lee Keegan (Westport)
3. Chris Barrett (Clontarf, Dublin)

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

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8. Conor Loftus (Crossmolina Deel Rovers)
9. Matthew Ruane (Breaffy)

10. Kevin McLoughlin (Knockmore)
11. Ryan O’Donoghue (Belmullet)
12. Diarmuid O’Connor (Ballintubber)

13. Tommy Conroy (The Neale)
14. Aidan O’Shea (Breaffy — captain)
15. Cillian O’Connor (Ballintubber)

Subs

22. Jordan Flynn (Crossmolina) for Diarmuid O’Connor (42)
17. Padraig O’Hora (Ballina Stephenites) for Barrett (47)
18. Michael Plunkett (Ballintubber) for McLaughlin (53)
21. Tom Parsons (Charlestown) for O’Donoghue (55)
25. Darren Coen (Hollymount-Carramore) for Cillian O’Connor (66)

Tipperary

1. Evan Comerford (Kilsheelan-Kilcash)

2. Alan Campbell (Moyle Rovers)
3. Jimmy Feehan (Killenaule)
4. Colm O’Shaughnessy (Ardfinnan)

5. Bill Maher (Kilsheelan-Kilcash)
6. Kevin Fahey (Clonmel Commercials)
7. Robbie Kiely (Barryroe, Cork)

8. Steven O’Brien (Ballina)
9. Liam Casey (Cahir)

10. Colin O’Riordan (Killea)
12. Conal Kennedy (Clonmel Commercials)
13. Brian Fox (Éire Óg Annacarty-Donohill)

15. Colman Kennedy (Clonmel Commercials)
11. Michael Quinlivan (Clonmel Commercials)
14. Conor Sweeney (Ballyporeen – captain)

Subs

19. Emmet Moloney (Drom & Inch) for Casey (half-time)
23. Philip Austin (Borrisokane) for Fox (half-time)
21. Paudie Feehan (Killenaule) for Kiely (53)
18. Dáire Brennan (Kilsheelan-Kilcash) for Jimmy Feehan (56)
26. Liam Boland (Moyle Rovers) for Colman Kennedy (56)

Referee: David Gough (Meath)

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About the author:

Fintan O'Toole  / Reports from Croke Park

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