FL1: deadly Dubs put mediocre Mayo to the sword
04 March 2017
Dublin's Michael Darragh Macauley with Tom Parsons of Mayo.
Pain in the rain for Mayo at Croke Park tonight as they were comprehensively beaten by Dublin, 1-16 to 0-7.
With 34,758 in attendance, this repeat of the 2016 All-Ireland final never reached the heights expected due to a combination of the winners’ class and the visitors’ failure to stand up to the challenge. The league holders won at a canter and if the twelve-point margin flatters anybody, it does so Stephen Rochford’s side.
Mayo had named a strong-looking team and even bolstered their ranks with the late addition of Footballer of the Year Lee Keegan to their starting XV but it was Dublin who had all the best footballers on show under lights at GAA HQ on this wet and miserable March night. More miserable, of course, for some than others...
Victory sees Dublin leapfrog Monaghan – beaten in Omagh tonight - to the top of the table and extend their incredible unbeaten sequence in league and championship to 33 games.
The heavens opened before throw-in and the holders produced a commanding first-half display to go in at the break ahead by six points, 1-5 to 0-2. The impressive Conor McHugh got the goal in the seventh minute after an error from visiting goalkeeper David Clarke, adding to points from himself and Dean Rock (free).
The out-of-sorts Cillian O’Connor fired over two ‘45’s – the losers’ only first-half scores – but Jim Gavin’s charges kicked on with points from Man of the Match Philly McMahon, Rock (free) and Eric Lowndes. They’d also had a Michael Dara Macauley three-pointer correctly ruled out and Eoghan O’Gara butchered a couple of presentable goal-scoring opportunities, while veteran goalkeeper Stephen Cluxton was on his toes to deny both O’Connor and Kevin McLoughlin.
The second half was a procession. The first six points were shared as Rock (2) and Lowndes pointed for Dublin, with Evan Regan (two frees) and Stephen Coen mustering token responses. McMahon, McHugh (2) and Rock increased the gap to ten and Tom Parsons and Colm Boyle landed Mayo’s last two scores before - with the mercurial Brian Fenton pulling the strings - Dublin turned the screw emphatically.
Clarke made an amazing triple save from Paddy Andrews’ penalty after Rock was fouled by Donal Vaughan - black card - but Rock (three frees - bringing his tally to eight) and substitute Paul Flynn – with a stunning strike – hammered home the Metropolitans’ superiority as they moved ominously closer to a fifth successive league title.
Dublin - S Cluxton; P McMahon (0-2), M Fitzsimons, D Byrne; D Daly, J Small, E Lowndes (0-2); B Fenton, M D Macauley; N Scully, C Kilkenny, S Carthy; D Rock (0-8, 6f), E O'Gara, C McHugh (1-3). Subs: P Andrews for E O'Gara, P Flynn (0-1) for S Carthy, K McManamon for C McHugh, C Reddin for D Byrne, E O Conghaile for B Fenton, C Mullally for J Small.
Mayo - D Clarke; P Durcan, L Keegan, K Higgins; C Boyle (0-1), S Coen (0-1), D Vaughan; J Gibbons, T Parsons (0-1); F Boland, K McLoughlin, D O'Connor; E Regan (0-2f), C O'Connor (0-2'45), A Moran. Subs: B Harrison for J Gibbons, S Nally for D Vaughan (BC), C O'Shea for A Moran, C Loftus for D O'Connor, D Kirby for F Boland.
Referee - D Coldrick.