GAELIC FOOTBALL: Last-gasp Mayo point sees Dublin fall to loss

Dublin 0-14 Mayo 1-12

by Aaron Dunne
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Dublin suffered their second successive reverse in Division 1 of the Allianz National Football League when falling to Mayo by the narrowest of margins in McHale Park, Castlebar on Saturday evening.

The Dubs raced into an early and deserved three-point lead but Mayo were far improved in the second quarter with four Ryan O’Donoghue points bringing the teams level by the interval.

Dublin once again gained control in the second-half but their opponents gained traction from Stephen Coen’s 52nd minute goal and clinched the win thanks to a point four minutes into added time from Fergal Boland.

Dublin started in an impressive and dominant manner, keen to put behind them last week’s loss to Monaghan, and they duly opened the scoring in the 3rd minute through a Cormac Costello free following a foul on Brian Fenton.

While Jack Carney restored parity a minute later, Mayo were very much playing on the back foot in the opening quarter with Fenton edging the visitors back in front in the 5th minute from Con O’Callaghan’s pass.

The Cuala player was heavily instrumental in the early stages, doubling Dublin’s lead within a minute and that margin was increased to three points by the 10th minute as Jack McCaffrey burst forward for a trademark point.

A lull ensued in terms of the scoring prior to Costello converting his second free at the end of the first quarter with Mayo replying in kind two minutes later through goalkeeper Colm Reape.

McCaffrey was enjoying a strong display in Dublin’s half-back line and popped up on his opposite flank to kick a glorious point off his left foot in the 21st minute.

A brace of Ryan O’Donoghue frees brought momentum to the home challenge and with Paddy Durcan excelling during this period, Mayo found themselves on level terms thanks to further points by Paul Towey and Bob Tuohy.

3 February 2024; Fergal Boland of Mayo is tackled by Brian Fenton of Dublin during the Allianz Football League Division 1 match between Mayo and Dublin at Hastings Insurance MacHale Park in Castlebar, Mayo. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Dublin regrouped sufficiently to restore their advantage as both Greg McEneaney and Sean Bugler popped over smart scores but Mayo finished the half strongly with another O’Donoghue brace leaving the teams deadlocked at 0-8 apiece by half-time.

Dublin’s start to the second-half mirrored that of the opening period as they assumed command of events and deservedly pushed two points clear by the 39th minute as David O’Hanlon and Paddy Small converted tricky frees.

When Costello clipped over an excellent point a minute later, Dublin looked well set to pull away but they were stopped in their tracks in the 52nd minute as Coen rose above O’Hanlon to deflect a Jordan Flynn shot into the net.

Costello and O’Donoghue exchanged frees to leave just a point separating the teams but a fine incision from substitute Peadar Ó Cofaigh Byrne allowed Cian Murphy to draw Dublin level by the 60th minute.

A superb turn and shot by O’Callaghan edged Dublin back in front three minutes later but that proved their final score of the game as their shooting became less precise in the closing stages.

Another O’Donoghue free, his sixth of the night, saw the teams deadlocked once again and with both teams spurning gilt-edged opportunities to take the lead, it was left to Boland to separate the teams with a dramatic late winner.

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