Dominant Dublin pushed hard before driving past Mayo in the last quarter

Six in a row for the Dubs after a bruising battle at Croke Park
Dominant Dublin pushed hard before driving past Mayo in the last quarter

WARRIORS: Dublin’s goalkeeper Stephen Cluxton checks on Lee Keegan of Mayo. Picture: INPHO/James Crombie

Dublin 2-14 Mayo 0-15

A VERY different season, a very familiar conclusion.

Dublin retain Sam Maguire, Mayo left to wonder about what might have been. When the game was there to be won, the Dubs found a way. Six in a row complete, and eight in 10 seasons with Stephen Cluxton and James McCarthy starting every one of them.

Their bench press was significant, particularly the contributions of Brian Howard and Paul Mannion, their experience telling, Ciarán Kilkenny well-policed yet pilfering 0-3, and their athleticism decisive, Con O'Callaghan and Brian Fenton especially. 

Brian Fenton of Dublin in action against Diarmuid O'Connor of Mayo. Picture: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Brian Fenton of Dublin in action against Diarmuid O'Connor of Mayo. Picture: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Two first-half goals, when they were outplayed by Mayo, were crucial.

In his first year at the helm Dessie Farrell kept the blue machine ticking over, the loss of Robbie McDaid to a black card for the opening 10 minutes of the second half didn't derail them and they made all the key plays in the last quarter to grind Mayo down.

It was another room to add to Mayo's house of pain. Cillian O'Connor was sublime in the first half, while Aidan O'Shea, Kevin McLaughlin and Lee Keegan battled to the bitter end. Diarmuid O'Connor worked relentlessly and David Clarke's kick-outs was bang on. 

Absolute warriors if not All-Ireland champions. 

Dublin’s John Small and Oisín Mullin of Mayo. Picture: INPHO/Ryan Byrne
Dublin’s John Small and Oisín Mullin of Mayo. Picture: INPHO/Ryan Byrne

Younger guns like Conor Loftus, Ryan O'Donoghue and Oisín Mullin impressed as much as the veterans. James Horan will have them back in the mix next season, but it's hard to see them bridging that gap to 1951. 

Aside from Dublin, Mayo have been the best county of the past decade, since their breakthrough quarter-final victory over Cork in 2011, without getting across the line. This was their largest margin of defeat in a decider but the concession of those goals, to trail at half-time when they'd been dominant, was costly.

Granted, David Coldrick made a couple of poor calls midway through the second half when the game was finely poised, but it was hard to argue with the result. 

And the scary thing is, Dublin have the youth in their ranks to make it seven on the bounce in 2021.

Like the hurling, Cork looked miles off the standard set in the All-Ireland final. Concentrating on Division 2 of the league will be the Rebels' priority in a couple of months, whoever the manager is with Ronan McCarthy's term up, though he could yet stay on.

Scorers for Dublin: D Rock 1-4 (0-4 f), C O’Callaghan 1-1, C Kilkenny 0-3, S Bugler, P Small, N Scully, B Fenton, P Mannion (f), B Howard 0-1 each.

Mayo: C O’Connor 0-9 (0-5 f, 0-2 m), R O’Donoghue 0-2, O Mullen, C Loftus, S Coen (m), D Coen 0-1 each.

DUBLIN: S Cluxton (c); D Byrne, J Cooper, E Murchan; M Fitzsimons, J Small, R McDaid; B Fenton, J McCarthy; N Scully, C O’Callaghan, S Bugler; P Small, D Rock, C Kilkenny.

Subs: B Howard for S Bugler (h-t), P Mannion for P Small (51), C Basquel for J Cooper (inj 54), C Costello for N Scully (inj 70). Black card: R McDaid (37).

MAYO: D Clarke; P Durcan, C Barrett, L Keegan; S Coen, O Mullin, E McLaughlin; M Ruane, C Loftus; K McLoughlin, R O’Donoghue, D O’Connor; T Conroy, A O’Shea (c), C O’Connor.

Subs: M Plunkett for P Durcan (h-t inj), J Carr for T Conroy (49), D Coen for R O’Donoghue (58), J Flynn for C Loftus (62), J Durcan for E McLaughlin (71), P McMahon for E Murchan (75).

Referee: D Coldrick (Meath).

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