EirGrid All Ireland U21 Semi-Final: Loftus lands last gasp winner for Mayo
EIRGRID ALL IRELAND UNDER 21 FOOTBALL CHAMPIONSHIP SEMI-FINAL
Mayo 1-15 Dublin 1-14
By Cian O'Connell at O’Connor Park, Tullamore
Conor Loftus clipped the winning free deep into stoppage time as Mayo shaded a thrilling EirGrid All Ireland under 21 semi-final at O’Connor Park.
In an absorbing encounter Mayo led by six points at the break, but then trailed by four with eight minutes remaining.
However, the Green and Red nailed six of the last seven points to book their place in the April 30 decider.
Mayo produced a dynamic opening period display to depart the interval armed with a deserved 1-7 to 0-4 advantage.
Michael Solan’s well organised team frustrated a fancied Dublin outfit, who only scored four points from nine first half attempts.
That showed how hard Mayo were working in defence as they repeatedly forced important turnovers to disturb Dublin.
At the opposite end of the pitch Mayo converted 1-7 from 15 shots with a dashing start putting Dublin under severe pressure.
Fergal Boland and Fionan Duffy registered points before Mayo pounced for a splendid ninth minute goal.
Conor Loftus and Liam Irwin were involved in the build up which enabled Diarmuid O’Connor to palm a fine goal for Mayo.
Further points from Stephen Coen and Shairoze Akram edged Mayo 1-4 to 0-0 in front by the 11th minute as Dublin struggled initially.
Dublin finally scored courtesy of a 15th minute Con O’Callaghan free, but Mayo were content to be leading by six points at the turnaround.
After the restart Dublin, with O’Callaghan, Colm Basquel, and Michael Deegan influential narrowed the gap.
A 40th minute O’Callaghan goal following excellent approach play by Glenn O’Reilly and Basquel had Dublin level.
Basquel and Deegan were prominent as Dublin moved 1-13 to 1-9 clear in the 48th minute, but Mayo finished strongly.
A brilliant Matthew Ruane point restored parity again, but even though Basquel stroked Dublin ahead late on, Mayo remained cool.
Loftus confidently drilled over two frees in the closing stages to seal a hugely satisfying success for the Connacht Champions.
Scorers for Mayo: L Irwin 0-4 (3fs), C Loftus 0-4 (4fs), D O'Connor 1-1, F Boland 0-2, F Duffy 0-1, S Akram 0-1, S Coen 0-1, M Ruane 0-1.
Scorers for Dublin: C O'Callaghan 1-5 (3fs), C Basquel 0-3, M Deegan 0-3, E Murchan 0-1, G O'Reilly 0-1, P Small 0-1 (f).
Mayo: M Flanagan; E O'Donoghue, S Cunniffe, D Kenny; M Plunkett, M Hall, S Akram; M Ruane, S Coen; F Boland, C Loftus, D O'Connor; F Duffy, L Irwin, B Reape.
Subs: E Doran for Cunniffe (31 mins), J Carr for Duffy (42 mins), J Kelly for Plunkett (51 mins).
Dublin: L Molloy; S McMahon, E Smith, S Clayton; C O'Shea, M Cahilan, B Howard; K Deeley, A Foley; T Lahiff, C Basquel, G O'Reilly; P Small, C O'Callaghan, M Deegan.
Subs: E Murchan for Cahilan (23 mins), D Spillane for Small (37 mins), K Doherty for Deeley (44 mins), A Elliot for O'Reilly (56 mins), D Monaghan for Smith (60 mins).
Referee: N Cullen (Fermanagh).