Mayo are facing into their 10th All-Ireland semi-final in the last seven years as Paddy Durcan added another heroic chapter to the book of Mayo draws.
His side have completed 520 minutes of football already this season, with four of those eight games ending level at the end of normal time.
The westerners dug out extra-time victories against Derry (2-21 to 1-13) and Cork (0-27 to 2-20) in the qualifiers, before going to replays against Roscommon (the 1-12 to 2-9 draw followed by a 4-19 to 0-9 hammering) and, now, Kerry.
There will be plenty more talk this week about Kerry and Mayo’s epic clashes in 2014, where Kieran O’Leary’s equaliser gave the Kingdom a 1-16 apiece draw the first day, although Bryan Sheehan saw a last-kick-of-the-match mammoth free fall short. Sound familiar?
The replay in Limerick’s Gaelic Grounds was even more enthralling. Cillian O’Connor and Aidan O’Shea missed long periods of the game after a clash of heads but Donal Vaughan kicked the injury-time equaliser. Into extra-time, and Mayo went two clear before Kerry kicked the final five points for a 3-16 to 3-13 win.
It says plenty about the improvement in this Mayo team that their last draw prior to that was at Ruislip in 2011, as James Horan’s new charges survived an almighty shock in extra-time against London, 0-19 to 2-10.
Since then, Mayo have lost to the eventual champions every year post-2011 and came closest to stopping the Dublin juggernaut in 2015 and 2016. In the 2015 semi-final, they held the Dubs scoreless for the final 14 minutes and kicked 1-4 themselves — O’Connor’s late penalty and Andy Moran’s leveller the decisive scores in a 1-15 to 2-12 tie.
They lost out 3-15 to 1-14 in the replay.
Then, a famous (or infamous, depending on your loyalties) draw in last year’s All-Ireland final saw Cillian O’Connor kick the levelling point, 0-15 to 2-9, after bizarre own goals from Kevin McLoughlin and Colm Boyle gave an underperforming Dublin the advantage.
O’Connor, however, couldn’t repeat his equalising heroics in the replay (1-14 to 1-15) after a late missed free saw Mayo’s odyssey for a fourth All- Ireland enter a 66th year.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved