Con O’Callaghan’s second-half brace of goals helped propel Dublin to an emphatic 3-14 to 1-10 victory over Mayo at Croke Park.
Now just one win away from the historic five-in-a-row, the winners utterly blitzed their spirited opponents in the third quarter, delivering a ruthless display of attacking football when it mattered most to completely turn the match on its head.
Having trailed by two points at the break, Dublin came out like men possessed at the start of the second half and registered 1-5 inside seven minutes to assume a 1-11 to 0-8 lead, O’Callaghan hammering home the game’s first goal inside the near post two minutes after the restart.
In front of a full house, the blitz continued as it became 2-6 without reply inside twelve scintillating second-half minutes, O’Callaghan bagging his second major eleven minutes in.
The westerners had taken the fight to their esteemed opponents from the off and were full value for their 0-8 to 0-6 half-time lead, playing with incredible energy, ferocity and on-the-edge intensity which appeared to have unsettled the defending champions.
Cillian O’Connor opened the scoring from a second-minute free and Seamus O’Shea sliced over the second Mayo score before Rob Hennelly comfortably dealt with a tame O’Callaghan shot along the wet surface.
Dean Rock’s sixth-minute free had the holders up and running and the Ballymun Kickhams clubman equalised from another free five minutes later.
James Carr’s left-footed strike edged the visitors back ahead but a quickfire Paul Mannion brace had Jim Gavin’s men in front – the first one a rasping shot from close range, the second arriving after Hennelly’s misplaced kick-out – only for Cillian O’Connor to equalise.
There were the customary late changes prior to throw-in, with Jonny Cooper getting the nod ahead of Cian O’Sullivan for the Dubs, while Donal Vaughan, Matthew Ruane and captain Diarmuid O'Connor replaced Kevin McLoughlin, Fergal Boland and Darren Coen in the named Mayo starting team.
The outstanding Paddy Durcan’s point meant Mayo led halfway through the first half and the next O’Connor free left two between them with 20 minutes played, 0-6 to 0-4. Fourteen minutes after their last score, Rock curled over a superb Dublin free from an acute angle but Colm Boyle replied with a truly sensational Mayo point.
Dublin's James McCarthy and Patrick Durcan of Mayo. ©INPHO/Ryan Byrne.
Durcan’s second flew over in stoppage time at the end of the first half but there was time for Brian Howard to creep forward at the other end to loft over a timely Dublin score and close the first-half scoring.
Rock’s free halved the deficit upon the restart and the Dubs moved ahead when O’Callaghan shrugged off Lee Keegan and powered his 37th-minute shot low to the bottom left corner of the net at the Davin End. When Niall Scully blasted another goal chance over the bar, the lead was three – 1-8 to 0-8.
Mannion’s beauty and another precise Rock free had the gap at five six minutes into the second half.
O’Callaghan’s second goal, ghosting past Keegan to give Hennelly the eye again and fire inside the near post, arrived in the 46th minute and Mannion followed up with a stunning left-footed point to make it 2-12 to 0-8 – 2-6 without reply inside twelve minutes and a massive ten-point gap!
Keegan poked brilliantly past Cluxton with the outside of his right boot in the 52nd minute, that classy goal getting Mayo’s side of the scoreboard momentarily moving again. Rock’s seventh free from seven attempts steadied the Leinster champions as the rain started to fall and Fenton planted the third Dublin goal just past the hour mark, following tidy approach play from Man of the Match O’Callaghan and Ciaran Kilkenny.
For the losers, Tom Parsons made a welcome return to action, completing his recovery from a career-threatening injury. Eight minutes from the end, Stephen Coen landed Mayo’s first point of the second half, Hennelly then deflecting Fenton’s goalbound effort over at the other end. Diarmuid Connolly made a cameo appearance in injury time and Mayo’s loss of discipline late on culminated in a second yellow card and therfore a red for Cillian O’Connor.
Boland’s late, late point was irrelevant – his side scoring only three times in the second half. Mayo’s third defeat of the summer means their season is over. Dublin’s is anything but…
Dublin - S Cluxton; D Byrne, J Cooper, M Fitzsimons; J McCaffrey, J McCarthy, J Small; B Fenton (1-1), M D Macauley; N Scully (0-1), C O’Callaghan (2-0), B Howard (0-1); P Mannion (0-5), D Rock (0-6f), C Kilkenny. Subs: C O’Sullivan for M D Macauley, E Murchan for J Small, C Costello for P Mannion, P McMahon for J Cooper, D Connolly for N Scully, P Andrews for C O’Callaghan.
Mayo - R Hennelly; C Barrett, B Harrison, S Coen (0-1); L Keegan (1-0), C Boyle (0-1), P Durcan (0-2); A O’Shea, S O’Shea (0-1); F McDonagh, D Vaughan, M Ruane; C O’Connor (0-3, 2f), D O’Connor, J Carr (0-1). Subs: K Higgins for D Vaughan, K McLoughlin for F McDonagh, A Moran for J Carr, E O’Donoghue for C Boyle, T Parsons for S O’Shea, F Boland (0-1) for D O’Connor.
Referee - C Lane.Tweet