THE MOST UNFAMILIAR of GAA seasons ended in the most familiar fashion.
Dublin again the masters of an All-Ireland football final, Mayo again forced to suffer after losing a decider. Six days before Christmas, the dominance of Dublin football was reaffirmed once more.
They were brought into a meaningful contest for long stretches here, Cillian O’Connor’s free in the 50th minute left the teams locked together at 2-8 to 0-14. A Dean Rock free shortly after nudged Dublin ahead and it looked finely poised at the second-half water break.
But Mayo would only register one more point for the remainder of the action. Dublin controlled the exchanges and shut down this match, rattling off a sequence of points to push clear. Ciaran Kilkenny popped up with two big scores, Rock converted another free, Paul Mannion came off the bench to land a dead ball and Brian Howard raised a white flag during another influential cameo when introduced.
A Darren Coen score was all Mayo could muster in response. They were left beaten and drained of life in the closing stages, never close to landing the goals that would have injected hope into their cause once more.
Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO
Mayo suffered as disastrous a start as possible. The concession of goals in All-Ireland finals has long proved costly for them, they leaked one here after only 13 seconds. It was a lightning start from Dublin, James McCarthy fielding the throw-in and launching forward to swap passes with Niall Scully before his offload gave Rock the simple task of palming home.
It was not the only goal Dublin registered in the first half. In the 23rd minute it was Scully who was again central to a move initiated by Con O’Callaghan and finished by the Cuala man with a slap to the net. That pair of strikes were the bedrock for Dublin’s half-time advantage, 2-6 to 0-10.
Yet Mayo were terrific during the first half. They had wiped out that early Dublin goal by the 2nd minute with a trio of smartly-taken points. They only struck one wide in the half, Cillian O’Connor notched 0-6 and Ryan O’Donoghue hit a brace of scores. Oisin Mullin was in outstanding form further back.
Dublin lost Robbie McDaid to a black card on the cusp of half-time and braced themselves for a second-half onslaught early doors. They lost the third quarter by 0-4 to 0-3 but the damage was minimal really. Mayo threatened on a couple of occasions when they fed deliveries to Aidan O’Shea who drew fouls which O’Connor converted into points from frees.
They trailed 2-8 to 0-11 in the 41st minute before reeling off three in succession over the next nine minutes. Parity was regained but Mayo could never nudge ahead to ask Dublin a searching question.
Instead the champions went about the business of putting this game to bed when the spoils were up for grabs. Sam Maguire stays put in the capital for another year.
Dublin players celebrate after the game.
Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO
Scorers for Dublin: Dean Rock 1-4 (0-4f), Con O’Callaghan 1-1, Ciarán Kilkenny 0-3, John Small, Brian Fenton, Niall Scully, Seán Bugler, Brian Howard, Paul Mannion (0-1f) 0-1 each.
Scorers for Mayo: Cillian O’Connor 0-9 (0-5f, 0-2 mark), Ryan O’Donoghue 0-2, Oisín Mullin, Stephen Coen (0-1 mark), Conor Loftus, Darren Coen 0-1 each.
1. Stephen Cluxton (Parnells)
2. Michael Fitzsimons (Cuala)
3. Davy Byrne (Naomh Olaf)
4. Jonny Cooper (Na Fianna)
of the team
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5. Eoin Murchan (Na Fianna)
6. John Small (Ballymun Kickhams)
7. Robbie McDaid (Ballyboden St Endas)
8. Brian Fenton (Raheny)
9. James McCarthy (Ballymun Kickhams)
10. Niall Scully (Templeogue Synge Street)
14. Con O’Callaghan (Cuala)
12. Sean Bugler (St Oliver Plunkett’s/Eoghan Ruadh)
13. Paddy Small (Ballymun Kickhams)
15. Dean Rock (Ballymun Kickhams)
11. Ciarán Kilkenny (Castleknock)
20. Brian Howard (Raheny) for Bugler (half-time)
24. Paul Mannion (Kilmacud Crokes) for Paddy Small (50)
17. Colm Basquel (Ballyboden St-Enda’s) for Cooper (53)
19. Cormac Costello (Whitehall Colmcille) for Scully (70)
25. Philly McMahon (Ballymun Kickhams) for Murchan (74)
1. David Clarke (Ballina Stephenites)
5. Patrick Durcan (Castlebar Mitchels)
2. Chris Barrett (Clontarf, Dublin)
4. Lee Keegan (Westport)
6. Stephen Coen (Hollymount/Carramore)
3. Oisin Mullin (Kilmaine)
7. Eoghan McLaughlin (Westport)
8. Conor Loftus (Crossmolina Deel Rovers)
9. Matthew Ruane (Breaffy)
10. Kevin McLoughlin (Knockmore)
11. Ryan O’Donoghue (Belmullet)
12. Diarmuid O’Connor (Ballintubber)
13. Tommy Conroy (The Neale)
14. Aidan O’Shea (Breaffy — captain)
15. Cillian O’Connor (Ballintubber)
18. Michael Plunkett (Ballintubber) for Durcan (half-time)
25. James Carr (Ardagh) for Conroy (49)
26. Darren Coen (Hollymount-Carramore) for O’Donoghue (58)
22. Jordan Flynn (Crossmolina) for Loftus (62)
24. James Durcan (Castlebar Mitchels) for McLaughlin (71)
Referee: David Coldrick (Meath)
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