Mayo give a master class
St Loman’s Park
SO many of these Mayo footballers had went whole careers with the county without tasting All-Ireland glory and when another opportunity presented itself on Saturday, collectively they were not willing to let it pass.
Players like Pat Fallon, Anthony McGarry, Liam Nyland, Mark Butler and Paul McStay have travelled the length and breath of Ireland for over 20 years in pursuit of ultimate glory.
Saturday was, in many ways, redemption time.
And to add to the joy it was done in style. Mayo played a fast-moving game that might have the Dubs asking to see a copy of the Mayo birth certs. Mike Morris’ team was the faster, fitter, more energetic and ultimately more hungry for victory.
MOVING LIKE A STAGG Mayo’s Noel Stagg leaves Willie Davey of Dublin in his wake last Saturday.
There were no weak links but their performance was encapsulated in the display of corner forward Noel Stagg. If the Hollymount wizard has lost any pace then it’s hard to know how he was never an Olympic sprinter. Stagg’s pace had the Dubs in a world of trouble any time he got on the ball. But not only he have the ability to put on the afterburners but he had the poise and the eye to exact maximum return.
A personal tally of 2-4 tells you a lot but dig a little deeper and even more is revealed. He took on and beat at least one man for each of the scores and his execution of both goals were the two moments of magic from this game.
If Dublin weren’t aware of the threat of Mayo’s top scorer before the game, they were given due notice 37 seconds in when Stagg reacted quickest to a breaking ball 25 yards from goal, took on his man and pointed.
That score aside, it was the Dubs who had the most productive opening. The Metropolitans had some famous names in their line-up; John O’Leary and Mick Deegan lined out in the half-back line, with Jack Sheedy on the forty and Joe McNally on the edge of the square.
McNally took the edge of the square a little too literally though and any ball coming into him was met by the determined John Pat Sheridan, springing out from full-back while McNally would just stand and watch.
Sheedy was somewhat more effective and pointed a free after four minutes. Mick Deegan and Brendan Mulhere followed this up with points to leave Dublin two up.
They were in front on the scoreboard but Mayo were dominant. Pat Fallon and Pat Ruane were lording midfield, Ciarán Carey was keeping Sheedy quiet from play while Sean Grealis was giving Wicklow’s only All-Star, Kevin O’Brien, no change in the corner.
A superbly converted free from Ger Butler and a pointed effort from Stagg had Mayo level before they grabbed their first goal. The tigerish Padraig Flannery took a superbly weighted quick free which opened the door for Stagg down the left channel.
The Holly’ man still had work to do though and dashed past the attempted challenges of Dermot Clarke and Deegan to finish superbly, low at the near post, past Ger Flaherty. That gave a lead they would never lose. Sheedy pointed a free but Mayo countered with a fine effort from Ger Butler.
Sheedy (free) then traded efforts with Pat Ruane but with Martin McLoughlin now acting as a third midfielder, Mayo forced home their advantage before the half was out. Martin McGrath, Fallon, Butler and Stagg all pointed with Pat Fallon’s being the pick of a fine bunch. Pat Reape’s kick-out was fielded by ‘Ginger’ McLoughlin who quickly gave the ball to the onrushing Fallon who carried the ball deep into the Dublin half before nonchalantly pointing.
Mayo led by seven at the break and as good as ended the game within sixty seconds of the restart. Noel Stagg left Christy Oonan and Willie Davey in knots with his mazy run before cracking an unstoppably effort to the corner of the net from 20 yards.
Sheedy, O’Brien (two frees) and Deegan all pointed to bring Dublin back to six with thirteen minutes to go but the Dubs had no answer to Mayo’s relentless attacking. Anthony McGarry, Padraig Flannery, Fallon and Ruane kept coming at Dublin.
Sub Mark Butler pointed a free after who else but Stagg was fouled, which Sheedy replied to with a free, Dublin’s last score. By this stage Ger Butler and Willie Davey had been sent off for an off-the-ball scuffle but it was never going to impact on the result.
If anything, Dublin could have been reduced to thirteen men with half-time substitute Kieran Duff appearing to be on a mission to do little but harm.
But Mayo kept their composure with the winning line in sight and late points from Stagg and Paul McStay added the gloss to a fine victory. The celebrations afterwards were emotional. When many of you are 40 years waiting for an All-Ireland, then you should expect nothing less.
P Reape (Knockmore); G Hession (Garrymore), JP Sheridan (Burrishoole), S Grealis (Breaffy); A McGarry, C Carey (Kiltane), P Flannery (Garrymore); P Fallon (0-1, Barna), P Ruane (0-1, Ballina); T Morrin (The Neale), J Cribben (Ballyhaunis), M McGrath (Ballina); G Butler (0-3, 1f, Shrule/Glencorrib), M McLoughlin (Parke), N Stagg (2-4, Hollymount). Subs: L Nyland (Davitts) for Morrin; M Butler (Salthill-Knocknacarra, 0-1, f) for Cribben; P McStay (Ballina) for McGrath; N Loftus (Bonniconlon) for Flannery.
G Faherty; D Clarke, C Oonan, W Davey; P Donnelly, J O’Leary, M Deegan (0-2); K Murray, P Tiernan; D O’Leary, J Sheedy (0-5, 4fs), P Nugent; K O’Brien (0-2, fs), J McNally, B Mulhere (0-1). Subs: K Duff for Nugent; B Brady for Deegan; S Kearns for Clarke.
Referee: T Petit (Longford).