Dublin this evening extended their unbeaten run against Mayo to 16 games.
The home side, in front of 15,148 spectators at Castlebar, were seeking a first victory over Dublin, in either league or championship, since August of 2012.
And while they matched the All-Ireland champions throughout the opening half, this despite losing Jordan Flynn to a red card on 15 minutes, a deserved one at that, Dublin simply ground down their opponents in the 20 minutes after the restart.
This period of Dublin dominance wasn’t quite at the level of last year’s All-Ireland semi-final where they steamrolled James Horan’s charges upon the change of ends, but the unanswered 1-3 they produced here was sufficient to take them out of reach of 14-man Mayo.
Newcomer Dan O’Brien nudged Dublin in front for the first time in proceedings shortly after the resumption and although the game then went 10 minutes without a score, what ended this barren period was crucial in deciding the outcome - Dean Rock expertly palming to the net a Kevin McManamon delivery from close to the end line.
Niall Scully and John Small added points thereafter, Dessie Farrell’s troops easing into a six-point lead.
The second-half was 22 minutes old by the time James Durcan (free) added to Mayo's first-half total of 0-5. Tommy Conroy’s 67th-minute point, meanwhile, was their first from play since the 26th minute. Dublin were operating with 14 men by this juncture, Michael Fitzsimons having been sin-binned for a challenge on Diarmuid O’Connor.
No inroads, though, could Mayo make during this 10 minutes, Dublin, with late points from Rock and sub Aaron Byrne, recording their fourth consecutive league win at MacHale and continuing their monopoly of this fixture.
It was all square at the break, 0-5 apiece, the standout moment from the opening period having been the sending off of Mayo’s Flynn a quarter of an hour in.
The hosts were 0-3 to 0-1 in the ascendancy when Flynn, making just his second league appearance for the county, was late, high, reckless, and clumsy when challenging John Small. Referee Barry Cassidy deemed it a red card offence, Mayo’s task of ending their eight-year wait for a first win over Dublin now made all the harder.
To their credit, Mayo didn’t cede ground when being reduced to 14 men and continued to prod and probe the Dublin defence. Long diagonal kicks were favoured and while they recorded two marks, Mayo were time and again let down by their shooting when taking aim at the opposition posts.
The home side finished the half with eight wides, all of which were registered inside the opening 25 minutes.
Dublin weren’t a whole pile more economical at the other end, the All-Ireland champions kicking as many points as they did wides in the first-half. Standing out, in this regard, was Conor McHugh’s wide after claiming a mark just outside the 20-metre line and almost directly in front of the Mayo posts.
A Rock free pared the margin back to the minimum following the dismissal of Flynn, but the visitors to Castlebar would have to wait a while longer before getting back on level footing.
Diarmuid O’Connor and Fergal Boland were involved in a well-worked James Durcan point. Kevin McManamon and Boland (mark) then traded white flags, but two points in first-half stoppages, supplied by Rock (free) and James McCarthy, left the sides deadlocked at the break.
Into the second-half, and it was largely one-way traffic. Dublin were nowhere near top gear, but, then again, they didn't need to be to collect the two points on offer and hand Dessie Farrell a first league win of his tenure.
Scorers for Dublin: D Rock (1-3, 0-3 frees); J McCarthy (0-2); J Small, N Scully, C Kilkenny, K McManamon, A Byrne, D O’Brien (0-1 each).
Scorers for Mayo: J Durcan (0-1 free), F Boland (0-2 each); D O’Connor (0-1 free), A O’Shea, T Conroy, J Carr (0-1 each).
Dublin: E Comerford; M Fitzsimons, R O’Carroll, D Byrne; J McCarthy, J Small, E Murchan; B Fenton, B Howard; N Scully, K McManamon, D O’Brien; C McHugh, C Kilkenny, D Rock.
Subs: P Mannion for McHugh (46); L Flatman for O’Carroll (49); P Small for McManamon (55); A Byrne for O’Brien (57); C O’Shea for Murchan (70).
Mayo: R Hennelly; P O’Hora, O Mullin, B Harrison; M Plunkett, C Boyle, P Durcan; S Coen, D O’Connor; F Boland, A O’Shea, J Flynn; R O’Donoghue, J Carr, J Durcan.
Subs: T Conor for Carr, L Keegan for Boyle (both HT); K McLoughlin for O’Donoghue (48); J McCormack for O’Shea (55); C Loftus for Durcan (65).
Referee: B Cassidy (Derry)