All Ireland SFC Final: Dublin earn a sixth title in a row
All Ireland Senior Football Championship Final
DUBLIN 2-14 MAYO 0-15
By Cian O'Connell at Croke Park
Ultimately it followed a familiar script with Mayo posing stern questions and Dublin summoning the necessary answers.
From the outset this game went along at a decent clip, but when the issue was delicately poised Dublin found a way. The unbeaten Championship run stretches back to 2014 and Dublin demonstrated why they remain such a formidable outfit.
Mayo, primed to take a scalp, were gritty throughout, but Dublin’s ability, athleticism, and depth mattered deeply in the closing stages.
Substitute Brian Howard made a significant impact, while Brian Fenton’s influence increased after the restart too.
With 20 minutes left at GAA headquarters the teams were deadlocked and it appeared that Mayo’s belief levels were beginning to increase.
What happened next? Dublin stitched a five point sequence together. Momentum generated and Mayo couldn’t respond adequately.
Howard was relevant, Ciaran Kilkenny masterful, and Dublin closed out the deal with the minimum of fuss. A sixth All Ireland title on the spin delivered by Dessie Farrell in his first campaign in charge.
What a testing year it has been for everyone on the planet, but Mayo and Dublin deserve immense credit for providing a richly entertaining encounter for vast chunks of this Saturday evening.
An opening period peppered with quality action commenced in blistering fashion when Dublin pounced for a goal inside 13 seconds.
James McCarthy made the dart that mattered before dishing off a pass for Ballymun Kickhams colleague Dean Rock, who supplied the palmed finish.
Mayo, though, came roaring back quickly reeling off three points on the spin courtesy of Oisin Mullin and Cillian O’Connor (two).
That set the tone and tempo with the teams deadlocked following a frenetic start with Mayo’s high octane approach admirable.
All over the field intriguing match-ups and tactical issues were occurring. Mullin was making splendid fetches, but Con O’Callaghan was also central to the narrative.
It was that sort of match. Dublin enjoyed a pocket of supremacy to move 1-3 to 0-3 ahead before Mayo had a burst of their own either side of the water break.
In that gorgeous Mayo burst O’Connor and Ryan O’Donoghue were splendid in attack, but Dublin did respond with a major.
Niall Scully supplied the pass with Con O’Callaghan netting Dublin’s second goal which nudged them 2-3 to 0-8 ahead in the 23rd minute.
Until the interval it remained keenly contested and full blooded with scores from John Small and Ciaran Kilkenny ensuring Dublin went in 2-6 to 0-10 in front at the turnaround.
Robbie McDaid was sin binned in additional time ensuring Dublin commenced the second half with 14 men for 10 minutes.
When the action recommenced Mayo struck four of the first six points with O’Connor sharp from frees.
Suddenly Dublin were under duress. Would Mayo finally terminate the search for Sam Maguire? Dublin simply stayed cool and composed.
Undoubtedly Mayo had caused them issues, but Dublin stayed the distance. When the need was greatest Rock steered over frees with trademark aplomb, Howard and fellow replacement, Paul Mannion, mined important efforts.
Darren Coen kicked Mayo’s sole score in the last quarter and fittingly Kilkenny rifled over the last score of the Championship. It dripped with class. Dublin continue to set the standard.
Scorers for Dublin: Dean Rock 1-4 (4fs), Con O’Callaghan 1-1, Ciaran Kilkenny 0-3, Brian Fenton, Niall Scully, Brian Howard, John Small, Sean Bugler, and Paul Mannion (f) 0-1 each.
Scorers for Mayo: Cillian O’Connor 0-9 (5fs, 2ms), Ryan O’Donoghue 0-2, Oisin Mullin, Conor Loftus, Darren Coen, and Stephen Coen (m) 0-1 each.
DUBLIN: Stephen Cluxton; Michael Fitzsimons, David Byrne, Eoin Murchan; Jonny Cooper, John Small, Robbie McDaid; Brian Fenton, James McCarthy; Niall Scully, Con O’Callaghan, Sean Bugler; Paddy Small, Dean Rock, Ciaran Kilkenny.
Subs: Brian Howard for Bugler (HT), Paul Mannion for P Small (51), Colm Basquel for Cooper (54), Cormac Costello for Scully (70), Philly McMahon for Murchan (70+5).
MAYO: David Clarke; Paddy Durcan, Chris Barrett, Lee Keegan; Stephen Coen, Oisin Mullin, Eoghan McLaughlin; Conor Loftus, Mattie Ruane; Kevin McLoughlin, Ryan O’Donoghue, Diarmuid O’Connor; Tommy Conroy, Aidan O’Shea, Cillian O’Connor.
Subs: Michael Plunkett for P Durcan (HT), James Carr for Conroy (49), Darren Coen for O’Donoghue (58), Jordan Flynn for Loftus (62), James Durcan for McLaughlin (70+1).
REFEREE: David Coldrick (Meath).