Well, that wasn’t much fun. There was always a danger that tonight’s match against Dublin was going to provide us with a reality check and it sure proved to be that. We were flat, bereft of ideas and utterly lacking in conviction. We ended up well beaten by a Dublin team who never left second gear, for the simple reason that they never had to.
Two years ago we suffered a similar League thumping at Croke Park but the one thing I expected to see from us tonight was a fully committed performance, one that should have seen us make this contest a competitive one. That simply didn’t happen.
From the off, we invited Dublin onto us. They got the night’s two opening scores and 14 minutes were on the clock before we got the scoreboard moving, thanks to a 60-yard free converted by Robbie Hennelly after a foul on Aidan O’Shea.
A few minutes later Fionn McDonagh – whose performance tonight was a rare positive for us – took possession at pace and fired confidently over to level it up.
It looked then like we were settling nicely into this contest but almost immediately any such thoughts were blown out of the water. Cormac Costello gave Keith Higgins the slip out on the wing, from where he quickly bore down on goal and lashed the ball to the net.
Ger Cafferkey got injured in the lead-up to that score and that was the end of Ger’s involvement in proceedings. The unfortunate Ballina man was replaced by Chris Barrett.
We suffered another blow soon after, this one self-inflicted. Lee Keegan committed a third man tackle right in front of the ref’s nose and he was off into the sin bin for his troubles.
By the time Lee came back on just before half-time Dublin were six to the good and our night had gone from bad to worse as Jason Doherty’s penalty – following a foul in the square on the same player – was saved by Evan Comerford. Robbie’s point from the resultant ’45 was welcome but the penalty miss meant we’d passed up on a great chance to get back into the game.
Further injuries blighted our cause. Ciaran Treacy hobbled off before the break, with Kevin McLoughlin coming on for him and Paddy Durcan also failed to appear for the second half due to a knock he’d picked up. Seamus O’Shea came on for Paddy, with Donal Vaughan shifting to wing-back.
Dublin should, in truth, have been out of sight by half-time. Robbie had by then saved our bacon in one-on-one situations no fewer than four times, and he’d go on pull off two further saves to deny Dublin goals in the second half. Only for Robbie’s repeated interventions we could have conceded a hatful of goals tonight.
As it was, Dublin didn’t need goals to beat us at their leisure. With all those enforced changes, we had no shape at all in the second half and it was evident from a long way out that this wasn’t going to end well for us.
Mattie Ruane’s nice point on the resumption was, then, a false dawn for us and we failed to score again for nearly another 15 minutes. That one – stabbed over by Kevin McLoughlin – was, however, followed soon after by another stupid black card offence, this time a daft hand trip by Seamus O’Shea on Fenton as he tried to wriggle clear.
Dublin failed to add to their total during Sheamie’s absence, but neither did we, as we hacked pot shot after wild pot shot wide. We had a total of 14 wides tonight, a good number of which bordered on horrific.
A collective groan went up amongst the 35,213 attendance when it was announced that 7 minutes of additional time would be played. Dublin added two further scores during this period – both from Dean Rock, who was named to start but didn’t, as Ciaran Kilkenny lined out at full-forward instead – we added nothing and we ended up losing by eight points.
There’s little point dwelling much more on tonight’s disappointing performance. We were second-best in every facet of the play tonight and, if anything, the scoreline flattered us. It was a rubbish display, pure and simple.
Best for us on the night were Robbie Hennelly, whose excelleet shot-stopping helped keep the losing margin down, and Fionn McDonagh, who worked hard, ran all evening and got a nice point from play. Mattie Ruane didn’t do bad on his debut either, in a sector where we badly missed the injured Diarmuid O’Connor.
That injury, combined with all the other personnel losses we suffered in the course of tonight’s game, helps, at least in part, to explain our disjointed effort tonight. It doesn’t, though, provide a sufficient reason as to why, yet again, we turned up half-cooked for a League contest against the top team in the country.
So, it’s back to earth with a bump for us. No longer top of the table and with two further tough assignments coming rapidly down the tracks at us. The first of these occurs this night week, back at MacHale Park, where Galway provide the opposition.
After tonight’s loss at Croke Park, this is now a match we need to get something out of. If we’re to do this, however, it’ll take a performance several notches up from the flat and very disappointing display the lads put in at HQ this evening.
Mayo; Robbie Hennelly (0-2, a free and a ’45); Brendan Harrison, Ger Cafferkey, Keith Higgins; Lee Keegan, Colm Boyle, Paddy Durcan; Matthew Ruane (0-1), Donal Vaughan; Fionn McDonagh (0-1), Aidan O’Shea, Ciaran Treacy; Andy Moran, Brian Reape, Jason Doherty (0-2, frees). Subs: Chris Barrett for Cafferkey, Kevin McLoughlin (0-1) for Treacy, Seamus O’Shea for Durcan, Fergal Boland for Moran, Stephen Coen for Reape.
I’ve no audio report, I’m afraid, for this match – I recorded it as normal after the game but the app I use for it malfunctioned so I’ve no end product to display. Appropriate, you might say, in light of tonight’s performance.
Dublin’s Cormac Costello was deservedly given the MOTM award for his performance tonight but, on a very disappointing night for us, who was our best performer? You can vote on that here.
Who was our Man of the Match against Dublin? Pick your top three performers.
- Robbie Hennelly (73%, 577 Votes)
- Fionn McDonagh (9%, 72 Votes)
- Matthew Ruane (5%, 37 Votes)
- Aidan O'Shea (3%, 22 Votes)
- Keith Higgins (2%, 19 Votes)
- Andy Moran (1%, 10 Votes)
- Stephen Coen (1%, 9 Votes)
- Fergal Boland (1%, 8 Votes)
- Ger Cafferkey (1%, 5 Votes)
- Lee Keegan (1%, 4 Votes)
- Brendan Harrison (1%, 4 Votes)
- Donal Vaughan (0%, 3 Votes)
- Ciaran Treacy (0%, 3 Votes)
- Jason Doherty (0%, 3 Votes)
- Chris Barrett (0%, 3 Votes)
- Brian Reape (0%, 2 Votes)
- Kevin McLoughlin (0%, 2 Votes)
- Paddy Durcan (0%, 1 Votes)
- Colm Boyle (0%, 1 Votes)
- Seamus O'Shea (0%, 1 Votes)
Total Voters: 786
* * *
A quick mention for the ladies who went down fighting in this evening’s curtain-raiser. They lost to Dublin by two points, on a scoreline of 1-17 to 3-9.
I didn’t make it into Croke Park in time myself to see this game and, by the sounds of it, I missed a cracking contest. Mayo led by six points at one stage in the first half and they went in at half-time four points in front. Dublin gradually reeled them back in, however, and two late points sealed the win for the reigning League and All-Ireland champions.