All-Ireland SFC final: Rock wins it for Dublin

September 17, 2017

Stephen Cluxton raises the Sam Maguire Cup.

A 75th minute free by Dean Rock earned Dublin their third consecutive All-Ireland SFC title following a pulsating 1-17 to 1-16 win over a devastated Mayo side at Croke Park this afternoon.

There is no doubt that the Connacht side played their part in what was arguably one of the best All-Ireland SFC finals ever witnessed.

This game had everything, pride, passion, commitment, skill, you name it, it had it, but that will be little consolation to a Mayo side who are on the losing side yet again.

Both sides finished the game with 14 men after John Small and Donie Vaughan were sent off, but it was anything but a dirty game as the two sides gave it their all.

Dublin got off to a brilliant start when Con O'Callaghan goaled in the second minute, but Mayo remained calm and fought their way back to lead by a point at half time.

The Dubs looked rattled at times. However, they showed great composure to take the lead at the most critical time and put more fuel to the statement that they are one of the greatest teams ever.

Mayo set themselves up to put pressure on the Dublin kickouts and it proved to be a very successful tactic in the first half as Stephen Cluxton was forced to go long on a number of occasions where Tom Parsons in particular was winning a lot of ball.

The Connacht side were the better side throughout the first half, but they only led by a point at the break, despite being well on top during periods of the opening 35 minutes.

From the throw in, Mayo went on the attack straight away, but Jason Doherty's effort after 15 seconds was wide. Dublin went down the field and the ball was worked to Con O'Callaghan who weaved his way through the Mayo defence and slotted the ball low past David Clarke and into the net.

There was concern that the could be about to steamroll Mayo, but that only spurred the Westerners on as they kicked the next three points. First up was the outstanding Andy Moran who slotted between the posts, and that score was followed by points from Donie Vaughan and the hard working Kevin McLoughlin.

Eoghan O'Gara brought a halt to that scoring run with a fine point in the 16th minute, but four minutes later Mayo were ahead for the first time in the game.

A quick Cillian O'Connor free was played to Moran who returned the ball to O'Connor who nonchalantly floated the ball over the bar. Then, despite being marked by two men, Moran found room to kick his second point of the afternoon.

A close range Dean Rock free levelled matters once again in the 22nd minute, but a minute later Moran had the umpire going for his white flag for the third time in the game, 1-02 to 0-06.

The impressive Doherty got the first of his scores to edge Mayo two points ahead. The Dubs would hit the next two scores though as John Small drilled one over from distance, before Rock found himself in acres of space to take his time and point.

Doherty fired over his second point in the 28th minute and we had to wait a further eight minutes for the next score and more importantly it was Mayo who scored it when Colm Boyle was on the end of a brilliant team move to split the posts with an effort off the outside of the boot.

Referee Joe McQuillan was the centre of attention on many occasions throughout the first half and the last score came from a dubious decision to award a free to Dublin 40 metres from goal, which Rock converted to leave the half time score 1-05 to 0-09.

Mannion had the sides level just after the break, but an O'Connor free had Mayo back in front a minute later. Rock from play and sub Kevin McManamon made it 1-08 to 0-10 by the 40th minute.

Then a crucial spell in the game as Cluxton saved well from Doherty when one on one before David Clarke produced a great save from Mannion who pointed from the follow up.

Both sides were reduced to 14 men when Small received a second yellow card for a challenge on Boyle and Vaughan saw red for retaliation.

Brian Fenton flicked over a further point for Dublin to make it 1-10 to 0-11 by the 50 minute mark and it looked as if they would kick on from there.

O'Connor (free) and James McCarthy exchanged scores. But second later, Mayo were in the lead when Keegan took a good pass from Moran and blasted past Cluxton.

Diarmuid Connolly who was introduced as a half time sub scored a fine point in the 56th minute, but that was immediately cancelled out by a score from McLoughlin.

Rock fisted over an equaliser with 13 minutes to go. O'Connor hit two then, one from a free and one from play, before Mannion who had an impressive second half scored from play.

McCarthy scored his second to make it 1-15 each with five minutes remaining. Rock and O'Connor swapped points and then we had to wait seven minutes for Rock to fire over the winner.

Dublin - S Cluxton; P McMahon, C O'Sullivan, M Fitzsimons; J Cooper, J Small (0-1), J McCaffrey; B Fenton (0-1), J McCarthy (0-2); C Kilkenny, C O'Callaghan (1-0), E O'Gara (0-1); P Mannion (0-3), P Andrews, D Rock (0-7, 3f). Subs: P Flynn for J McCaffrey, D Connolly (0-1) for P Andrews, K McManamon (0-1) for E O'Gara, B Brogan for P Flynn, N Scully for C O'Callaghan, C Costello for P Mannion.

Mayo - D Clarke; B Harrison, D Vaughan (0-1), K Higgins; L Keegan (1-0), C Barrett, C Boyle (0-1); S O'Shea, T Parsons; K McLoughlin (0-2), A O'Shea, P Durcan; J Doherty (0-2), C O'Connor (0-7, 4f), A Moran (0-3). Subs: D O'Connor for S O'Shea, S Coen for C Boyle, C Loftus for A Moran, D Drake for J Doherty, D Kirby for K McLoughlin, G Cafferkey for K Higgins.

Referee - J McQuillan.

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