FL1: Mayo / Dublin abandoned due to fog

February 11, 2012

Dublin manager Pat Gilroy and his Mayo counter-part James Horan talk after the Allianz FL game at Castlebar was called off at half-time ©INPHO/James Crombie
The meeting of Mayo and Dublin was abandoned at half time due to fog in Castlebar.

As a dense blanket of fog descended upon McHale Park, reducing visibility to practically zero, match referee Marty Duffy had no option but to call the match off. It was disappointing for those in attendance as the contest was delicately-poised after 35 minutes, with the 14-man Dubs ahead by three.

Dublin led by 0-8 to 0-5 at the break but would have been home and hosed but for the dismissal of wing back James McCarthy after 25 minutes. They were ahead by 0-8 to 0-3 at that stage and had struck eight of the previous nine scores, with Diarmuid Connolly rampant.

A massive crowd turned out at McHale Park for this Saturday night match under lights and there was a late change to the home side as Ballintubber clubman Jason Gibbons came in at midfield in place of Seamus O'Shea.

It was Gibbons' clubmate Cillian O'Connor who opened the scoring, the 2011 Young Footballer of the Year clipping over a free following a Philly McMahon foul. Onlooking Taoiseach Enda Kenny could afford a smile as the Connacht champions stretched their advantage from another free, this one from a more central position, off the boot of Conor Mortimer from 30 metres: 0-2 to no score after five minutes.

However, the All-Ireland champions quickly settled and hit the front with a run of five points in ten minutes. Diarmuid Connolly was instrumental in the recovery as he showed well to boot over two quick scores to draw the visitors level before coming close to firing a goal.

After Mossie Quinn nonchalantly stroked over a trademark free, Connolly picked out Paul Brogan to give Pat Gilroy's men a two-point lead. And who else but the elusive Connolly was on hand to gather possession in front of his man and make it 0-5 to 0-2?

The St Vincent's clubman was running riot and James Horan would have to act quickly to stop him before this game ran away from Mayo. Connolly was producing the sort of form that put Tyrone to the sword at Croke Park last summer.

The gap rose to five points when Quinn tapped over another free and Kevin McManamon lost his marker to slot a seventh successive score for the away team and make it 0-7 to 0-2. Dublin's early-morning rises were clearly doing them no harm whatsoever! It was an exhibition from the Sam Maguire holders in the first quarter as Mayo couldn't get near them such was the slickness and ease of their movement.

Enda Varley roused the home support with a fine score, reacting quickest after O'Connor struck the woodwork, but Stephen Cluxton thumped over a free to restore the five-point cushion.

Mayo needed something to happen for them if they were going to gain any kind of foothold in this game and they were handed a lifeline of sorts when Dublin were reduced to 14 men before the break, wing back James McCarthy picking up a straight red card after his elbow connected with Alan Freeman.

The numerical advantage tipped the tide back in Mayo's favour and they came close to a goal when Varley's shot struck the crossbar and went over. A Mortimer free had the margin down to three at the short whistle, 0-8 to 0-5.

Conditions had deteriorated in the closing ten minutes of the first half and, during the half-time break, the thick fog started to descend with intent over the Castlebar venue. Referee Marty Duffy decided to provisionally extend the interval by five minutes to see would conditions improve...

After a long wait, the match official had no real alternative but to call the game off, which left three pertinent questions needing to be answered:

Would James McCarthy's red card stand? (answers on the back of a postcard, please)

When would the replay take place? (The CCCC will meet on Monday to decide)

Would the spectators be able to make their way to the pub in the fog to watch the rugby? (didn't matter: France V Ireland was called off too due to a frozen pitch in Paris)

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