NFL 1: Dubs down Mayo in Croker thriller

March 20, 2011

Dublin's Denis Bastick with former Mayo player James Kilcullen. ©INPHO/Ryan Byrne
Dublin edged out Mayo by 4-15 to 3-13 in an enthralling encounter that lit up Croke Park.

Pat Gilroy's charges now look odds-on for a place in the league final, while James Horan will have been heartened by the battling qualities his side showed in recovering from a disastrous start.

The visitors had wiped out a 14-point deficit but ran out of steam as the Dubs took control in the closing minutes to knock over seven of the last nine points.

The first half belonged to Dublin full forward Diarmuid Connolly and the Dubs led by 4-8 to 1-9 at the interval as the No.14 netted three times.

Bernard Brogan didn't make the Dubs starting team but Mossie Quinn fired them ahead with an early free. The visitors enjoyed some nice possession over the next few minutes but they were punished ruthlessly when Quinn collected the ball from a Paul Flynn pass and brilliantly drilled a shot to the back of the net in the sixth minute.

Quinn clipped over two more frees and it looked ominous for Mayo after 13 minutes: 1-3 to 0-1. Then the floodgates opened…

It was all Dublin and Diarmuid Connolly slammed in two goals to make it 3-3 to 0-2 with quarter of the match played.

Amazingly, Connolly soon had his hat-trick of goals as he flicked a high delivery to the net in the 23rd minute and the rampant Dubs led by 4-4 to 0-2.

Mayo were understandably shellshocked, trailing by 14 points but, to their credit, they arrowed over four successive points to close the gap to ten, 4-4 to 0-6 on the half-hour mark.

The visitors continued to improve, with wing back Richie Feeney very impressive. Feeney, Andy Moran, Aidan Campbell (2) and Peadar Gardiner all scored points, while Jason Doherty poached the goal for the Connacht county just before the turnaround.

The threat of Connolly was omnipresent, though, and he fielded another high delivery to kick another ominous point before the break.

Doherty planted his second goal in the Dublin net shortly after the restart after Campbell had opened the second-half scoring and the gap was closing all the time… 4-8 to 2-10 (20 points to 16).

Unbelievably, Alan Freeman blasted another Mayo goal and the 14-point gap was down to one point. Mayo had outscored the Dubs by 3-8 to 0-4 between the 22nd and 45th minutes!

Andy Moran swung over the levelling point, with the Dublin defence struggling under the high ball in to Mayo's two-man full-forward line of Doherty and Freeman.

A Quinn free had the Dubs back in front and another brace of Connolly points helped steady the ship as the hosts led by three again, 4-11 to 3-11.

Dublin got two of the next three, including a great one from Kevin McManamon. The next two points were traded as the Metropolitans kept their noses in front, with Dillon and Quinn exchanging scores: 4-14 to 3-13.

Dara Nelson added another Dubs point in the 68th minute and Doherty was unlucky when his next goal effort flew wide of the post. Dublin's supporters among the 18,960 attendance breathed a sigh of relief.

What a game!

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