Eoghan McLaughlin stretchered off after collision with John Small 1 month ago

Eoghan McLaughlin stretchered off after collision with John Small

"Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think any Mayo forward has scored from open play in the first half."

Dublin players like John Small were going hell for leather out there. They were letting no-one get in their way, even if they had to go through them.

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In a rain-soaked first half, Dublin were giving nothing for free, and nothing cheap either. Tomás Ó Sé was not wrong.

After 11 minutes of the All-Ireland semi-final, at Croke Park, Dublin were 0-4 to 0-0 up. Mattie Ruane finally got them underway and you could sense the sheer relief for the Mayo supporters.

Everyone knew Dublin would be starting fast. Few of us expected Mayo to get stuck in the starter's blocks and then slip and slide all over a sodden Croker while giving the champs a head-start.

Even when Mayo won a free or an attacking mark, their leading lights were contriving to miss the target:

Dublin led 0-9 to 0-2 at one stage and needed late Robbie Hennelly and Conor Loftus scores to make it 0-10 to 0-4 at the break.

While one RTÉ pundit, in Colm O'Rourke, was telling us all to pack up and head home, Tomás Ó Sé was in pure appreciation mode for Dublin's defending. While the Dub's attack has often failed to fire, this championship summer, their full-court press has won them big plays and big games.

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Ó Sé highlighted the defensive graft of three of Dublin's "savages". He said:

"It's setting the tone, all over the pitch - their handling, hand-passing, kick-passing. James McCarthy is having a whale of a game.

"That middle third there, Dublin are making a war-zone out of it. Whereas, on the other side, Mayo aren't getting a hand on Dublin. They're counter-attacking at pace. McCarthy, Howard, Small, Fenton, Kilkenny, Scully - they are tackling like savages.

"If you look at Mayo's strength, that is it, and Dublin are after showing they are really the kings of it."

Dublin then failed to score for the first 15 minutes of the second half, and Mayo got right back into it. They got as close as three points back from the champions but a water-break did them some favours and slowed Mayo's comeback.

Dublin finally registered their first point of the second half, and then came a huge talking point. John Small and Eoghan McLaughlin went for a 50/50 and the Mayo man was left in a heap.

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It was a case of the referee waving play on, and Dublin almost scored a goal from the resulting attack.

On the sideline, Mayo boss James Horan was fuming. He roared, "That's a joke!"

McLaughlin had to be stretchered off and though there was some consultation between the officials about the collision, no action was taken.

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The game itself went to extra time after goalkeeper Hennelly kicked a free deep in time added on. In the end, Mayo won it by three points to spare after finishing like men possessed in that extra time.