Kevin O’Brien reports from Semple Stadium, Thurles
THE SCORELINE DOESN’T do justice to the immense effort Tipperary put in, but Mayo got out of Semple Stadium alive after overpowering the hosts in the final quarter.
Mayo, the great entertainers, rarely treat their supporters to a bad game regardless of the opposition but they looked on the ropes at half-time when they went in trailing by two.
To compound matters, Stephen Rochford’s side lost Seamus O’Shea to a shoulder injury and Colm Boyle to a black-card in the five minutes before the break.
But a fortunate James Durcan goal in the 52nd minute ignited the Mayo challenge and they outscored the Premier by 1-7 to no score to close out the game in some style.
Durcan, the twin brother of defender Paddy, kicked 1-2 while man-of-the-match Jason Doherty and Kevin McLoughlin scored 0-3 apiece.
Traditionally Tipperary footballers don’t get a huge support but with the county’s hurlers knocked out of the championship, a massive crowd of 11,267 showed up – although it must be said a good fraction of that were Mayo fans.
It was an entertaining game with plenty of good attacking play on either side and an intruiging tactical battle between Stephen Rochford and Liam Kearns.
Tipperary set-up with Brian Fox as a full-time sweeper in front of the Mayo full-forward line and with a dangerous two-man full-forward line of Conor Sweeney and Michael Quinlivan.
Mayo lined out with Paddy Durcan and Ger Cafferkey in the full-back line with Chris Barrett at centre-back flanked by Colm Boyle and Keith Higgins. Durcan had a wonderful tussle with Tipp’s 2016 All-Star Michael Quinlivan.
The Premier ace scored 1-2 in the first-half but Durcan probably shaded it after a fine second-half performance.
Seamus O’Shea and Stephen Coen paired up in midfield, while Mayo pushed Lee Keegan up as a third midfielder for the first quarter.
Mayo raced into a four-point lead early on, but Tipperary started to get some joy when they directed high ball into the full-forward line. They kicked four long balls into the area in the first-half that yielded 1-2.
Quinlivan’s goal arrived after another move started by Fox from deep. He worked it up for Josh Keane on the flank who delivered a brilliant pass that Quinlivan flicked into the net.
Keegan had struggled to get his hand on possession and in the 19th minute, he switched with Higgins, who was already taken for two points by Austin. Cillian O’Connor had four pointed frees to his name by half-time but Mayo went in behind by 1-7 to 0-8.
More importantly, they lost Seamus O’Shea to a suspected dislocated collarbone and Colm Boyle to a black card at the very end of the half. Diarmuid O’Connor replaced O’Shea and performed well at midfield for the remainder of the game.
Cian Hanley came in for Boyle and went to wing-forward, with Coen moving to centre-back and Aidan O’Shea moving midfield. Mayo kicked the first two scores of the half but a brilliant mark from Jack Kennedy and two from Steven O’Brien helped the hosts establish a foothold in the middle.
McGrath, Quinlivan and Sweeney reeled off a score each as Tipp’s attack sparkled to move them 1-11 to 0-11 in front after 50 minutes. Then Keegan bombed forward and fed James Durcan for a point attempt that sensationally dropped into the top corner.
Mayo pressed right up on Evan Comerford’s kick-outs, forcing him to go long and Aidan O’Shea started to lord the airwaves. McLoughlin, Doherty (2), Durcan, Andy Moran and Keegan clipped over scores as Mayo’s physical conditioning began to tell and they powered down the home straight.
Scorers for Mayo: Cillian O’Connor 0-5 (0-5f), James Durcan 1-2, Jason Doherty and Kevin McLoughlin 0-3 each, Andy Moran, Paddy Durcan, Seamie O’Shea, Aidan O’Shea and Conor Loftus (0-1f) 0-1 each.
Scorers for Tipperary: Michael Quinlivan 1-2, Liam McGrath 0-3 (0-2f), Conor Sweeney and Philip Austin 0-2 each, Steven O’Brien
1. David Clarke (Ballina Stephenites)
7. Patrick Durcan (Castlebar Mitchels)
3. Ger Cafferkey (Ballina Stephenites)
5. Colm Boyle (Davitts)
2. Chris Barrett (Belmullet)
4. Keith Higgins (Ballyhaunis)
9. Lee Keegan (Westport)
6. Stephen Coen (Hollymount/Carramore)
8. Seamus O’Shea (Breaffy)
10. Kevin McLoughlin (Knockmore)
11. Aidan O’Shea (Breaffy)
13. Jason Doherty (Burrishoole)
14. Cillian O’Connor (Ballintubber – captain)
26. James Durcan (Castlebar Mitchels)
15. Andy Moran (Ballaghaderreen)
25. Diarmuid O’Connor for Seamus O’Shea (30)
12. Cian Hanley (Ballaghadereen) for Boyle (35+4 black-card)
23. Evan Regan (Ballina Stephenites) for McLoughlin (blood sub, 39 – 45)
20. Eoin O’Donoghue (Belmullet) for Barrett (55)
23. Regan for Cillian O’Connor (67)
24. Conor Loftus (Crossmolina) for Moran (69)
21. Danny Kirby (Castlebar Mitchels) for Diarmuid O’Connor (71)
1. Evan Comerford (Kilsheelan-Kilcash)
2. Shane O’Connell (Golden-Kilfeacle)
4. Alan Campbell (Moyle Rovers)
3. John Meagher (Loughmore-Castleiney)
12. Brian Fox (Éire Óg Annacarty-Donohill)
7. Jimmy Feehan (Killenaule)
6. Robbie Kiely (Carbery Rangers)
5. Bill Maher (Kilsheelan-Kilcash)
11. Jack Kennedy (Clonmel Commercials)
9. Steven O’Brien (Ballina)
10. Josh Keane (Golden-Kilfeacle)
15. Liam McGrath (Loughmore-Castleiney)
22. Philip Austin (Borrisokane)
13. Conor Sweeney (Ballyporeen)
14. Michael Quinlivan (Clonmel Commercials)
18. Liam Boland (Moyle Rovers) for Austin (59)
8. Liam Casey (Cahir) for Kennedy (60)
17. Kevin O’Halloran (Portroe) for McGrath (64)
19. Kevin Fahey (Clonmel Commercials) for Feehan (65)
23. Jason Lonergan (Clonmel Commercials) for Keane (67)
21. George Hannigan (Shannon Rovers) for O’Brien (71)
Referee: Maurice Deegan (Laois)