It’s been one hell of a decade for thrilling matches involving Mayo. Endless Championship jousts – particularly with Dublin, Kerry and Donegal – have produced a series of unforgettable moments and the task of trying to select a top three is no easy feat.
As we approach the end of this decade, I took a stab at picking my three most memorable Mayo matches between 2010-2019. I’m aware that there are some absolute scorchers missing (and I’m also still not quite sure myself how either of the 2014 semi-finals against Kerry have missed out) so feel free to comment on the blog with your own top three!
2012 – All-Ireland semi-final v Dublin
A flurry of unanswered Mayo points either side of half-time in this contest remains one of the most thrilling memories of this or any other decade as Mayo set about dismantling the reigning All-Ireland champions. When Alan Dillon’s 51st minute point made the score-line 0-17 – 0-07, the Croke Park crowd were struggling to believe eyes…..until a Dublin surge brought everyone back down to earth.
Who knows how things might have finished up had David Clarke not managed to get a strong right hand to Bernard Brogan’s goal-bound shot late in the day? As usual, it was never destined to be straightforward. A jubilant Keith Higgins emerging from a sea of bodies with the ball deep into injury-time endures as a priceless image to this day.
2013 – All-Ireland quarter-final v Donegal
Have Mayo produced a better 70-minute performance during this decade? So many aspects of what had become a well-oiled machine by this stage seemed to be functioning at full capacity on this day and the result was a shock to the Donegal system which had previously been so carefully cultivated by Jim McGuiness.
Aidan O’Shea produced a colossal display around the middle which appeared to set a platform for Donie Vaughan (among others) to rampage forward on more than one occasion. A voracious appetite for goals was another startling feature of this game, with Cillian O’Connor helping himself to a mind-blowing total of 3-4 on the day. The constant energy of Keegan, Higgins, O’Shea and plenty of others was a sight to behold in a performance that arguably represented a peak for this magnificent team.
2015 – All Ireland semi-final v Dublin (first game)
The sheer defiance of the late rally here was the abiding memory and ultimately why this game squeezes into my top three in the face of stiff competition.
We had seen the stubborn character of this team on more than one occasion by this point (notably when dealing with the loss of Lee Keegan and a five-point deficit in 2014 against Kerry) but the difference on this day was that they faced an additional enemy alongside the boys in blue … the clock. A seven-point gap with less than ten minutes remaining is simply not a position that teams recover from against a Dublin side that have redefined the sport as we know it during this past decade.
Slowly, methodically, Mayo somehow clawed their way back, though, and the short spell between the referee signalling for a penalty and Andy Moran claiming an iconic equaliser shortly after O’Connor’s goal ranks as possibly the most intense couple of minutes we’ve seen in the last ten years!