SMOTHERED Mayo’s Liam O’Malley is tackled by Dublin’s Mark Vaughan during last Saturday night’s Allianz National Football League clash at Parnell Park. Pic: Sportsfile
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Dublin deliver a harsh lesson as Mayo are exposed under lights
FOOTBALL - Style Text bold red - Allianz National League Division 1A
Dublin 4-10 - Style Text Large Bold (10pt)
MIKE FINNERTY - STYLE Text Bold
PARNELL PARK - STYLE TEXT SMALL (8pt)
Style text - THERE were fifteen minutes left and Mayo were nine points down. Sub’ Aidan Higgins had just been sent off only seconds after arriving on the field and as Dublin handpassed their way up the field, unchallenged, thousands of their supporters taunted Mayo. As each Dublin pass was completed, without an opponent getting even a glove to the ball, the crowd cheered. Mayo’s unbeaten record in this National League had been scattered to the four corners.
As snap-shots go, it is as good a place as any to start when attempting to summarise the whipping that was handed out to Mayo by the rampant Dubs.
But how had it come to this? Saturday night was supposed to be all about confirming our suspicions that this current Mayo line-up was taking shape. That our five successive victories in this competition were merely building to a big finish, and that the FBD Final defeat to Galway had only been an aberration.
Instead, in the absence of the Mortimers, Ronan McGarrity, David Brady and Ciaran McDonald, we were reminded just how badly this quintet are missed when the big guns are rolled out to meet us.
Truth be told, when Dublin upped the ante, Mayo had few, if any, answers. Darren Magee ruled midfield convincingly, Ger Brady was substituted after an indifferent evening, four goals were conceded, and only one scored. There is plenty to be getting on with.
The evening had started promisingly enough for Mayo. Looking fit and well after an overnight stay in the Citywest Hotel, they raced into a 0-3 to 0-1 lead after fifteen minutes.
Austin O’Malley, one of the team’s most impressive performers on the night, drilled the opening score inside the first minute before debutant Alan Durcan hooked over two superb points. It was all going to plan. Or so we thought.
Dublin’s stomach for the fight has been questioned relentlessly in recent weeks; here, on home soil, they gave their answer.
First, Mark Vaughan won a ball ahead of James Nallen and Keith Higgins that he had no right to, before bearing down on goal. A quick pass to Declan Lally, who drew the cover, and Mossy Quinn was on hand to receive the ball, and dispatch it low past John Healy to the net. It was 1-1 to 0-3 on 16 minutes.
The green flag was fluttering again two minutes later after Dublin defender Paul Griffin went tumbling inside Mayo’s square and referee Jimmy McKee signalled for a penalty. It was a harsh decision, which Mayo argued but to no avail, and man of the match Quinn drilled the spot-kick down the middle of the goal with aplomb. It was now 2-2 to 0-3. Advantage Dublin.
Mayo’s response was admirable. Liam O’Malley, Keith Higgins, Peadar Gardiner and Pat Kelly endeavoured to push on down the flanks in the absence of any significant say at midfield, and neat inter-play yielded four points, one from the tireless Andy Moran and three from the boot of the team’s current creative influence, Alan Dillon.
The dynamo’s last point, in the 34th minute, was conceived by an excellent burst from Peadar Gardiner and should have been a goal; Dillon blazing the ball over the bar from three yards out.
In any event, Mayo went in at half-time trailing by just three points (2-4 to 0-7) after a tough first half which tore along at a different pace and intensity to recent outings.
Dublin went for the jugular after the restart and found it with relative ease. The hitherto anonymous Alan Brogan danced his way into space to loft over a point before, in the 43rd minute, Conal Keaney rose highest to flick a high delivery towards the net. John Healy produced a stunning initial save to thwart Keaney, but the full-forward followed up to poke the ball over the line and Dublin were in the clear.
During a twenty-five minute spell, Mayo were outscored by 1-4 to 0-1. Their defence was also left exposed to constant raids by an insatiable Dublin midfield and half-back line, who were allowed to proceed, unhindered, towards the scoring zone.
Andy Moran’s 44th minute point was Mayo’s only score during the third quarter.
Subs were introduced to try and stem the tide, and Kevin O’Neill, Rory Hannick and Trevor Howley all took to the task with relish. But there was no stopping Dublin.
Points rained over as Quinn smacked a ’45 between the posts, Bryan Cullen curled a point from play, Quinn popped another and Darren Magee thumped a long-range score.
The gap had grown to nine points by the time Austin O’Malley rifled in Mayo’s goal in the 63rd minute and two late frees from Kevin O’Neill were no more than window-dressing.
Their value was also lessened by the fact that Alan Brogan ran in to crash home Dublin’s fourth goal in the 69th minute and the rout was completed when the same player hit the winner’s final point in the final minute. Game over.
S Cluxton; D Henry, B Cahill, P Griffin; P Casey, C Goggins, P Andrews; C Whelan, D Magee (0-1); D Lally, M Quinn (2-2, 1-0pen, 0-1 ’45), B Cullen (0-3); M Vaughan, C Keaney (1-2, 1f), A Brogan (1-2). Subs used: S Ryan for Whelan (inj); P Burke for Lally; D Bastic for Andrews.
J Healy; L O’Malley, D Heaney, K Higgins; P Kelly, J Nallen, P Gardiner; J Gill, B Moran; A Dillon (0-3, 1f), G Brady, B Padden; A Moran (0-2), A O’Malley (1-1), A Durcan (0-2). Subs: T Howley for Kelly; K O’Neill (0-2, 2fs) for Durcan; R Hannick for B Moran; A Higgins for Dillon; P Casey for Brady.
Referee: J McKee (Armagh)