All-Ireland SFC semi-final 2016: Mayo 2-13 Tipperary 0-14
FOR over half the players from four years’ ago it’s a matter of ‘how’s the form, haven’t seen you for a while?,’ when the counties meet again at Croke Park on Sunday at 3.30pm for a place in this year’s final.
The outcome could even hinge on whether the Tipperary defence can restrict the Mayo attack because of the high number of survivors in both departments. The new Munster champions supply five backs as well as keeper Evan Comerford and Mayo are set to have four forwards as well as Conor Loftus, who came on as a substitute.
Centre-back Kevin Fahey, scorer of a point in Tipp’s 0-17 to 0-14 provincial success against Cork, is the only newcomer in a rearguard containing Alan Campbell, Jimmy Feehan and Colm O’Shaughnessy in the full-back line and Bill Maher and Robbie Kiely in front of them.
They will have familiar company from the Connacht champions in Kevin McLoughlin, Aidan O’Shea and the O’Connors, Diarmuid and Cillian.
Tipp also have three forwards from the 2016 game, captain Conor Sweeney, Michael Quinlivan and Brian Fox while Philip Austin came off the bench to join midfield.
Mayo keeper David Clarke, along with defenders Lee Keegan, Patrick Durcan and substitute Chris Barrett also played four years’ ago.
Back then, it was Tipp’s first All-Ireland semi-final in 81 years, having stunned Connacht champions Galway by 3-13 to 1-10 in the quarter-final.
And in front of a crowd of over 53,000, Tipp, who had beaten Cork in the Munster semi-final by 3-15 to 2-16, made an encouraging start by moving 0-6 to 0-3 ahead despite losing Kiely to a black card inside the opening 10 minutes. But, they turned over possession cheaply which resulted in Mayo’s opening goal after 27 minutes with Keith Higgins counter-attacking to set-up Jason Doherty, who side-stepped Comerford before slotting to the empty net.
Tipp could only add one more point in the remainder of the half as Mayo showed all their considerable experience in attempting to reach a third final in five seasons by outscoring Tipp 0-7 to 0-1 for a solid 1-10 to 0-7 interval advantage.
Tipp boss Liam Kearns used the break to settle his charges and they returned a different side for the second half, claiming five of the six points scored on the resumption. And it could have been a one-point game had a Quinlivan attempt at another score not been blanked out by Hawk-Eye as Mayo clung to a slender 1-11 to 0-12 advantage.
They eventually made the game safe with a second goal six minutes from the end of regulation time, when Conor O’Shea latched on to a loose ball to find the bottom corner of Comerford’s net.
Shortly after, Tipp were reduced to 14 men after the red carding of Maher though Mayo also finished with 14 after Donal Vaughan was shown a black deep in injury time, when his side had used all six subs. Quinlivan emerged as the leading scorer with 0-7, all from frees, while Andy Moran was Mayo’s main marksman with 0-4 from play.
Tipp only managed five points from play over the odd minutes which contrasted sharply with Mayo’s 2-10.
And Tipp’s over-reliance on the Quinlivan-Sweeney combination, a pair who produced a dozen points against Cork, was again reflected in their 10-point contribution.
Mayo are the 1/4 favourites with the bookies to advance to the final against either Dublin or Cavan who meet at Croker on Saturday.
TIPPERARY: E Comerford; C O’Shaughnessy, A Campbell, C McDonald; B Maher, R Kiely, J Feehan; P Acheson, captain, G Hamilton; J Keane, M Quinlivan, B Fox; K O’Halloran, C Sweeney, P Austin.
Subs: S Leahy for Kiely, A Moloney for Leahy, S O’Connell for O’Shaughnessy, I Fahey for O’Halloran, M Dunne for Keane.
MAYO: D Clarke; B Harrison, B Moran, K Higgins; L Keegan, C Boyle, P Durcan; S O’Shea, D Vaughan; K McLoughlin, A O’Shea, D O’Connor; J Doherty, A Moran, C O’Connor.
Subs: T Parsons for S O’Shea, C O’Shea for Doherty, E Regan for Moran, C Barrett for Boyle, A Dillon for McLoughlin, C Loftus for C O’Connor.
Referee: D Coldrick (Meath)