All-Ireland SFC final: Five key moments from Dublin and Mayo’s draw
1: An own goal by Mayo’s Kevin McLoughlin: Eight minutes in and Dublin are creaking out loud, Mayo hitting them with two early punches – a point from Tom Parsons, a free from Cillian O’Connor. Out of nowhere that tide is turned right around, Brian Fenton’s piercing run towards the Mayo goal carrying a smell of danger for sure, only for David Clarke to make an excellent block. Rebounds by very definition go anywhere, and Bernard Brogan suddenly found the ball at his feet, promptly sent it off target, only for McLoughlin to tap it into his own net. Instantly burying his face in his hands, a cruel strike for McLoughlin and a desperate twist for Mayo so early on.
2: And another own goal: Not long after the stadium floodlights are turned on, shining further light on Mayo’s intense dominance, things are turned upside down again. Diarmuid Connolly takes a long-range free with utter authority and conviction towards Dean Rock, who is grabbling for possession, only for Colm Boyle to right-foot the ball into his own net, goalkeeper David Clarke watching on in complete vain. Dublin can hardly believe their luck, nor indeed can most the 82,257 mostly stunned attendance, as the Dubs finish out the half five points clear, 2-4 to 0-5.
3: Mayo start the second half on the B of the Bang: Dublin killed Kerry with the strength of their showing early in the second half of the semi-final, only this time it’s Mayo who inflict that punishment on them. First the veteran Andy Moran from play, then two more within 30 seconds, from Patrick Durcan and Cillian O’Connor, before another free from O’Connor reduces the gap to the minimum. Any presumption of Dublin’s inevitable response is short lived as, on 45 minutes, another free from O’Connor squares it all, the first real sign of what eventual outcome is soon at hand.
4: Brian Fenton shifts gear and the game back in Dublin’s direction: Although struggling for any sort of decent possession around midfield, Dublin are suddenly gifted it, Sheamus O’Shea guilty of not one but three turnovers, one of which is promptly collected and fired over the bar by Fenton, on 50 minutes. Incredibly, it is Dublin’s first point of the second half, and boy did they need it. Dean Rock had sent a shot inexplicably short just moments before, and a near blinding series of possessions not long after that yielded nothing, making Fenton’s point appear far greater than it’s worth.
5: Seven minutes of injury time: There was some surprise about exactly where referee Conor Lane found that on his watch, but it raised the tension to breaking point. By then, Dublin appeared to have done what they always do, close down the match with just enough in reserve: a brilliant point from John Small and a cool-as free from Dean Rock was followed by a gifted point from Diarmuid Connolly, and with that Dublin were three up. Only what followed in the added seven minutes was nearly all Mayo, a free from Cillian O’Connor and a point from defender Donal Vaughan reducing the gap to one, and even if Aidan O’Shea seemingly blew one of their last chances with his banana-boot of a shot, up popped O’Connor in what was actually the 78th minute to slice the posts to his own roaring approval, and of course the chorus of Mayo supporters. So they’ll go at it again on Saturday week, Dublin and Mayo looking as inseparable as ever.