Dublin charge is halted by Mayo at Croke Park
Mayo 1-15 Dublin 2-12
An epic in Croke Park, and the best thing about it is we get to relive the whole experience this Saturday in the replay, throw-in at 5pm.
We will come back to the football, but it should be noted from an early stage that for all the fuss and the fury made about Tyrone and their antics, Dublin here took things to a new level with six cards and a level of war that they seldom have to resort to as they bully their way through their annual Leinster jamboree/cakewalk.
There will be disciplinary matters to tidy up. Diarmuid Connolly was dismissed by referee Joe McQuillan in injury time after a bout of wrestling on the ground with Lee Keegan, a decision that Dublin manager Jim Gavin (pictured) is likely to appeal.
Perhaps there might be some horsetrading to be done, because there is the small matter of an alleged headbutt on Aidan O'Shea by his marker Philly McMahon that went unpunished by McQuillan, but was caught by the television cameras and discussed by The Sunday Game panel. Quizzed afterwards if he received a headbutt, Mayo's O'Shea answered, "Yeah, I was headbutted alright."
As the incident was not addressed at the time and is unlikely to be referenced in the referee's report, we could be in for a week of will-he won't-he as the Central Competitions Control Committee look into it.
It would appear that Mayo were no saints either, as Rory O'Carroll was forced to leave the pitch after four minutes, receiving a blow that reportedly required 10 stitches.
When the teams went in at half-time, Dublin led 1-7 to 0-7, Mayo ruminating on only gaining one score from play, that coming as the opener on 54 seconds from Lee Keegan. It got worse for them for a spell and with McMahon rendering O'Shea scoreless with a mixture of fair means and foul, joint managers Noel Connelly and Pat Holmes went for broke, pushing up on the Dublin kickout and re-imaging their attack. Still, the fact there will be replay is something of a minor miracle. With nine minutes remaining of normal time, Dublin streaked seven points ahead with a Jack McCaffrey point.
Only four minutes earlier, a knifing run from McCaffrey distorted the Mayo defence and he put a goal chance on a plate for Brian Fenton. His shot was smothered by Rob Hennelly in the Mayo goal but Kevin McManamon stabbed the loose ball home.
It appeared as if a crucial three minutes that featured wides from Kevin McLoughlin, Diarmuid O'Connor and Andy Moran would send Mayo back west with a familiar refrain of woe, but then something wonderful occurred. A Moran point was quickly followed by one from the inspirational Keith Higgins who sprung forward.
With two minutes to go, Colm Boyle burrowed his way into the penalty area and crashed into a thicket of Dubs. Penalty. Was he fouled? Debatable.
But perhaps Mayo were owed some Karma after Diarmuid Connolly converted his own penalty after five minutes, despite Jason Doherty's foul being outside the area.
In any event, Cillian O'Connor hammered it nervelessly home and the Dublin advantage was wiped out in the next play when Dublin goalkeeper Stephen Cluxton kicked it down Tom Parson's throat and it was over the bar from Moran in a flash.
Still, Dublin had a final chance with a late free for Cluxton. He never looked confident and it fell wide of the near post.
Next Saturday night, another full house will pack Croke Park. Again, it will be unmissable. The summer is saved. Rejoice.
DUBLIN: S Cluxton; J Cooper, P McMahon, R O'Carroll; J McCarthy, C O'Sullivan, J McCaffrey 0-1; B Fenton, MD Macauley; P Flynn 0-1, P Andrews 0-2, C Kilkenny 0-3; B Brogan 0-2, D Connolly 1-2, 1-0 pen, 1f, D Rock
Subs: M Fitzsimons for O'Carroll (4m), K McManamon 1-1, for Rock (h-time), J Small for Cooper (43m), A Brogan for Andrews (54m), T Brady for Fenton (57m)
Yellow cards: Cooper (17m), McCarthy (35m), O'Sullivan (42m)
Black cards: Macauley (50m, replaced by D Bastick), Bastick (66m, replaced by E Lowndes)
Red cards: Connolly (73m)
MAYO: R Hennelly; C Barrett, G Cafferkey, K Higgins 0-1; D Vaughan, L Keegan 0-1, C Boyle; S O'Shea, T Parsons; D O'Connor 0-1, D Drake, K McLoughlin; C O'Connor 1-9, 1-0 pen, 8f, 1x'45', A O'Shea, J Doherty
Subs: P Durcan for Vaughan (18m), A Moran 0-2 for Drake (45m), A Freeman 0-1 for Doherty (62m), B Moran for S O'Shea (66m), M Sweeney for D O'Connor (69m)
Yellow cards: Parsons (6m), McLoughlin (41m), Keegan (73m)
Black cards: 0
Red cards: 0
Referee: Joe McQuillan (Cavan)