Dean Rock was Dublin’s hero as his additional-time free kick won the county their third consecutive All-Ireland SFC title, writes John Fogarty.
In a gripping decider which saw John Small sent off for two yellow cards in the 46th minute and Donie Vaughan follow him for reacting to his challenge on Colm Boyle, the lead was exchanged on four occasions in the second half, the ultimate occasion when Rock punished a Chris Barrett foul on substitute Diarmuid Connolly. It was a cruel fate for Barrett having been outstanding throughout.
Dublin’s bench made their presence felt, Kevin McManamon putting Dublin one up in the 40th minute and then Stephen Cluxton had to be level to a Jason Doherty shot. Diarmuid O’Connor followed up with a free. A minute later David Clarke did well to deny Paul Mannion a goal although he did claim a point.
The champions were two points up when Cillian O’Connor sent the ball up the wing to Andy Moran, who had previously put the ball on a plate for Doherty’s shot, and he laid it off into the path of Lee Keegan whose shot beat Cluxton.
Dublin twice drew level before Mayo hit scores on the bounce via O’Connor, one from a free, Barrett’s turnovers giving Mayo a great platform. However, Dublin again reeled them back and the scoreboard 1-15 a piece in the 66th minute. Rock then fisted the ball over the bar after Barrett almost cut out a Connolly crossfield ball only for O’Connor to equalise.
When Keith Higgins made a despairing but successful block on Bernard Brogan and Connolly struck a weak wide, fortune looked to be with Mayo but then Connolly earned the free and Rock created history.
Dublin had sparkled at the outset. Con O’Callaghan, who perhaps overstepped, cut through the Mayo defence as he did Tyrone’s to bag another early goal, this time coming just two minutes in. Boyle and Higgins should have done better but unlike Tyrone Mayo weren’t rattled and sent over the next three scores.
It wasn’t until 13 minutes later that Dublin registered their second score, Eoghan O’Gara’s point being deemed good by HawkEye although he had almost sent Paddy Andrews in for a shot on goal seconds earlier.
But Dublin were much the inferior team. Losing Jack McCaffrey to a knee injury in the ninth minute didn’t help and Mayo, for all their excellence in the middle third where Aidan O’Shea and Tom Parsons were superb, finally went ahead in the 20th minute after Andy Moran punished a poor Dublin kick-out. Moran was fortunate to be on the field after tripping Jonny Cooper for the previous Mayo score when he combined to put Cillian O’Connor in for a point.
Mayo were so good in general play but poor in converting and had five wides and a couple of shots that dropped short by the end of the first half. They led by two points in the 24th minute after Mayo again pushed up on Dublin’s restart having scored through Moran and Doherty added the score.
Dublin cancelled out that advantage when John Small and Dean Rock, although Donie Vaughan might have been fouled in the build-up, arrowed over points but Mayo once again hit Dublin with a one-two combination, Doherty finding his range for his second point and then Colm Boyle advancing to strike successfully with the outside of the boot after Cillian O’Connor was off-target with a makeable free.
After Paddy Andrews and Ciarán Kilkenny collided, Dublin were lucky to see Kilkenny win a free when surrounded by a couple of Mayo players and Rock sent over the free to leave just one between the teams at the break, 0-9 to 1-5.
Scorers for Dublin: D. Rock (0-7, 3 frees); C. O’Callaghan (1-0); P. Mannion (0-3); J. McCarthy (0-2); E. O’Gara, J. Small, K. McManamon, B. Fenton, D. Connolly (0-1 each).
Scorers for Mayo: C. O’Connor (0-7, 4 frees); A. Moran (0-3); L. Keegan (1-0); J. Doherty, K. McLoughlin (0-2 each); D. Vaughan, C. Boyle (0-1 each).
DUBLIN: S. Cluxton (c); P. McMahon, M. Fitzsimons; J. Cooper; J. Small, C. O’Sullivan, J. McCaffrey; B. Fenton, J. McCarthy; D. Rock, C. O’Callaghan, C. Kilkenny; P. Mannion, E. O’Gara, P. Andrews.
Subs for Dublin: P. Flynn for J. McCaffrey (inj 9); D. Connolly for P. Andrews, K. McManamon for E. O’Gara (h-t); B. Brogan for P. Flynn (65); N. Scully for C. O’Callaghan (68); C. Costello for P. Mannion (70+4); C. Kilkenny (black, 70+7 not replaced).
Sent off: J. Small (48, second yellow).
MAYO: D. Clarke; C. Barrett, B. Harrison, P. Durcan; L. Keegan, C. Boyle, K. Higgins; S. O’Shea, T. Parsons; K. McLoughlin, A. O’Shea, D. Vaughan; J. Doherty; C. O’Connor (c), A. Moran.
Subs for Mayo: D. O’Connor for S. O’Shea (51); C. Boyle for S. Coen (56); C. Loftus for A. Moran (63);
Sent off: D. Vaughan (48, straight); D. Drake for J. Doherty (70); D. Kirby for K. McLoughlin, G. Cafferkey for K. Higgins (inj) (both 70+5).
Referee: J. McQuillan (Cavan).