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Dublin crush Mayo dream to make it three All Ireland titles on the trot

Dublin 1-17 Mayo 1-16

By Declan Bogue

Yeah sure, Dublin won the All-Ireland.

But the real story tends to always lie with Mayo and their courageous but ultimately doomed generation of footballers who keep losing All-Ireland finals.

This was their ninth attempt for Sam Maguire since 1989. Some have been whitewashes. This was agonising.

There was a sense of fatalism as early as the second minute. Con O'Callaghan nibbled a bit of space around the defensive cover, got goalside of Colm Boyle and with David Clarke advancing, cushioned a finish to the net.

Mayo would never let a catastrophe get the better of them. They are more interested in creating those themselves.

In a game that drew level 11 times throughout, they were soon in the lead after the first quarter. Apart from the opening minutes of Dublin's landslide against Kildare, this was the first time they had trailed in this year's Championship.

Mayo's obsession with self-harm manifested itself in the 47th minute. Dublin defender John Small, already on a yellow card, crashed into Colm Boyle. For some reason Donal Vaughan thought he might come in with an arm dangerously high.

What was a free in front of goals that should have resulted in an equalising score and a numerical advantage became a hop ball which, eventually, Dublin scored from.

Soon after, the main characters of the Mayo narrative combined to score a goal. Tom Parsons fielded a Clarke kickout.

It was moved through Aidan O'Shea to Cillian O'Connor down the line, inside to Andy Moran who dished off to the inrushing Lee Keegan who scored his second goal against Dublin in All-Ireland final day.

Two more O'Connor points secured Mayo an advantage by that margin with seven minutes left.

Andy Moran had been their best player and a point of reference for the attack. He was injured, but should have been kept on. Instead, their best forward was replaced with 15 minutes left. Mayo scored one point in that period, a monster kick from O'Connor.

But, but but… if it can come down to something, just think of the two freetakers for a second.

In the first minute of time added on, Jason Doherty had a sideline ball that Johnny Cooper conceded. He shuttled it down the wing and O'Connor was fouled by Michael Fitzsimons.

O'Connor's free was almost exactly around the same patch of grass that he hooked a dead ball wide last year, spurning the chance to tie the All-Ireland final replay. Here, the ball came down off the far upright to the relief of the Hill behind it.

A few tension and dread-filled minutes later and Diarmuid Connolly - remember him? - had almost the last word on a Championship that he haunted like Banquo's Ghost.

Having been introduced at half-time for an ineffective Eoghan O'Gara he had scored an equalising point on 57 minutes that showcased his physical strength. He took off on a run and was upended by the otherwise outstanding Chris Barrett.

The clock crept up to the six minutes of allotted extra-time.

A lot of stuff was going on out on the pitch to put Dean Rock off. During his run up, an object - possibly a gumshield - was tossed in his direction. But he nailed it. As Clarke went to take the kickout, a number of Dublin forwards just grabbed the defenders nearest to them and wrestled them to the ground.

Black card, red card, nobody would have cared. Ciaran Kilkenny got a black card.

"It was happening at both ends and that's just the way it is when you have two really well matched teams going hard at it," said Jim Gavin in the Press conference afterwards.

Dublin played keep ball as Mayo desperately chased. Joe McQuillan then brought an end to what was a poor day for him and the Hill came alive - the blue smoke belched from the flares and we were left with the sight of Mayo crushed by the weight of expectation yet again.

The champions' record under Jim Gavin is astonishing. They have lost one single Championship game in five seasons.

Prior to this year's league final, they had hungrily gobbled up four titles. Their domination of the game is complete and yet despite winning here they had so few notable contributions.

In the one game they were handed a robust challenge, they survived through Dean Rock's place-kicking and Paul Mannion's whiff of a threat and a comet of a goal.

They lost the midfield battle with six of Stephen Cluxton's eight long kickouts ending in Mayo hands during the first half.

They lost Jack McCaffrey through injury, and if we are talking about marking jobs, they probably came off worst there too with Lee Keegan's utter domination of Ciaran Kilkenny a significant element of the day.

And yet here they are.

Champions again.

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