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Mayo trucking their way to All-Ireland finals after another shot at glory as Tipperary are toppled

Mayo 2-13 Tipperary0-14

By Declan Bogue

Published 22/08/2016

Hold on: Mayo’s Cillian O’Connor (left) clashes with Brian Fox
Hold on: Mayo’s Cillian O’Connor (left) clashes with Brian Fox

Somehow, some way, Mayo just keep trucking their way to All-Ireland finals.

Ever since 2012, they have been beaten in a final, or by the eventual champions at semi-final stage. They are the great survivors, always hanging in there. Though there is a sense they have bumbled their way along to this final.

If it tones down all the inevitable 'House of Pain' rhetoric between now and four weeks time, when they face the winners of next Sunday's showdown between Dublin and Kerry, it will have been worth all the hardship.

Maybe Tipperary never truly looked like barring their route to the showpiece day here, but it still took stand-out performances from their cabal of extremely strong-willed leaders in Aidan O'Shea, Lee Keegan, Keith Higgins and most especially Andy Moran to pull this patchy performance out the other side.

Two goals, at absolutely crucial times when Tipperary were dominating the game, displayed Mayo's ruthless streak (the first on 27 minutes) and the odd rub of the green (the second, on 64).

Perhaps the rub of the green hasn't always been with them in previous years, under James Horan and then last year, Noel Connelly and Pat Holmes. If you are into the abstract, you might even venture that old saying that it could just be their year.

Leading by three points and able to work their short kickouts out of defence, Colm O'Shaughnessy was way too casual in dishing off a handpass to Bill Maher. Keith Higgins fastened onto the loose ball and sped through the heart of the Tipp defence. He exchanged a give and go with Aidan O'Shea, rode the challenge of Brian Fox and at the opportune moment, transferred to Jason Doherty. His feint sent Tipp keeper Evan Comerford sprawling and he tapped to the net.

Higgins was able to run down the barrel of the gun so successfully as Tipp's centre-back Robbie Kiely was by then dismissed for a black card for a blatant pull-down on Doherty.

A fully-energised Mayo then went on to score a further seven points to Tipp's solitary effort, Conor Sweeney firing over after an initial Peter Acheson shot was blocked down.

From the start of the second half, Tipp began to push up and squeeze the Mayo restarts, gaining plenty of joy as they hit five of the first six points.

With two points in it, Michael Quinlivan and Sweeney causing Mayo serious problems, Mayo manager Stephen Rochford sent for reinforcements and on marched Tom Parsons, Conor O'Shea and Evan Regan.

A lack of experience in Tipp ranks was telling. Wides from Alan Maloney and Philip Austin were baffling, while they went to sleep when O'Connor stood over a Mayo free, sending Andy Moran through only for Comerford to make a heroic save.

With only a Colm Boyle point from distance in 18 minutes, fortune shone on the men from the west.

With his first possession and busting to make an impression, Evan Regan sold a solo dummy and took aim for a point.

He lost his footing and the ball dribbled along the deck, to fellow sub Conor O'Shea, who struck it on the half-turn. The contact wasn't sweet, but it was enough to carry it past Comerford for Mayo to go six in front.

Although there were six minutes of time added on, the sting was gone from the contest and the play became ever-more fragmented. Two yellow cards and a black card in injury-time tell you how seasoned and bad-ass Rochford's men are at closing out a game.

They are only playing to some of their strengths, though. Realising they had the upper hand in big men across the middle, they kept a high press on the Tipperary kickouts and if they could work it short, they would be immediately harassed and dogged.

In the debit column, to date it has not come together in a complete performance, and they continue to allow the opposition to have productive spells.

If they can arrest all of these faults and overcome either Dublin or Kerry in the All-Ireland final on September 18, it will be an incredible job of work. It can only come about through utter pragmatism and to this end, we look to their selector, Tony McEntee.

One thing they can't stomach though, is yet more talk of heroic failure.

MAYO: D Clarke; B Harrison, B Moran, K Higgins; L Keegan 0-1, C Boyle 0-1, P Durcan; S O'Shea, D Vaughan; K McLoughlin 0-1, A O'Shea 0-1, D O'Connor 0-2; J Doherty 1-0, A Moran 0-4, C O'Connor 0-3f

Subs: T Parsons for S O'Shea (53), C O'Shea 1-0 for Doherty (58), E Regan for Moran (62), C Barrett for Boyle (67), A Dillon for McLoughlin (69), C Loftus for C O'Connor (71)

Yellow cards: Keegan (40), Higgins (69), D O'Connor (75)

Black cards: Vaughan (75, no replacement)

Red cards: 0

TIPPERARY: E Comerford; C O'Shaughnessy, A Campbell, C McDonald; B Maher 0-1, R Kiely, J Feehan; P Acheson, G Hannigan; J Keane, M Quinlivan 0-7f, B Fox; K O'Halloran 0-2, 1f, C Sweeney 0-3, 1f, P Austin 0-1

Subs: A Maloney for S Leahy (32), S O'Connell for O'Shaughnessy (56), I Fahey for O'Halloran (66), M Dunne for Keane (72)

Yellow cards: McDonald (63), Fox (67)

Black cards: Kiely (9, replaced by S Leahy)

Red cards: B Maher (66)

Referee: David Coldrick (Meath)

Attendance: 53,212

Belfast Telegraph

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