No joy for Mayo on the big day once more
Close again, but yet so far. Mayo's wait for the All-Ireland title will reach 70 years at least as this year's quest was ended by Dublin, yet again, who won this evening's final on a scoreline of 2-14 to 0-15 in Croke Park.
Mayo were worthy opponents for the six-in-a-row winners, pushing them hard despite conceding a goal after just 12 seconds, straight from the throw-in.
By half-time they were just two points down, 0-10 to 2-6, and they were up against a Dublin team that would have 14 players for the first 10 minutes of the second half as Robbie McDaid was shown a black card right on the stroke of half-time.
The game was level at 0-14 to 2-8 with 50 minutes on the clock but once Dublin edged ahead going into the second water break, they strangled the life out of Mayo, who wasted a couple of possessions as well, it must be said.
Once it returned to 15 v 15, Dublin wrested control and enjoyed a huge amount of possession going down the straight, never allowing Mayo get in for the goal they so badly needed.
It was the worst possible start to the game for Mayo as Dublin midfielder James McCarthy won the throw-in and embarked on a surging run that ended with Dean Rock flashing the ball past David Clarke. The goal was timed at just 12 seconds.
The riposte from Mayo was equally as stunning, however, as points from the roaming Oisín Mullin and Cillian O'Connor (two, one free) had them level with merely three minutes played.
The game took on a less frantic pattern for a while, with Dublin enjoying a period of dominance that yielded three points on the trot, scored by Rock (two frees) and Sean Bugler.
With ferocious work rate, Mayo proceeded to dominate for a spell and five points without reply either side of the water break had them ahead for the first time by the 21st minute.
Undeterred, Dublin embarked on another incisive move that ended with Con O'Callaghan fisting the ball to the net to put Dublin back in front at 2-3 to 0-8.
A Cillian O'Connor free had Mayo level quickly but Dublin outscored their opponents by three points to one over the closing stages of to lead by two at the break, 2-6 to 0-10, but they had to face the opening 10 minutes of the second half a man down due to a black card for Robbie McDaid on the stroke of half-time.
That second half was quite tame. Dublin manager Dessie Farrell sacrificed Sean Bugler from the attack to bolster the defence with Brian Howard, who went on to score a point in the second half, while their intent was evident from the early stages – they were going to play keep-ball and work clear openings for scores.
Niall Scully, who had a fine game, and Brian Fenton scored early in the second half for the champions but Cillian O'Connor (three frees) and Stephen Coen (mark) had Mayo level with their illustrious opponents with 20 minutes to go.
Three points without reply either side of the water break by Rock (free), Ciaran Kilkenny and Howard set Dublin on their way to victory, and in the final 10 minutes plus injury time they held Mayo to just a point, scored by substitute Darren Coen, while adding on two more themselves through Rock (free) and Kilkenny.
A final flurry from Mayo yielded a half-chance for Kevin McLoughlin that was blocked for a 45' that was floated back into the danger area, but a Dublin hand batted the ball clear and soon the Sam Maguire Cup was back in the hands of captain Stephen Cluxton once again.
The Mayo team was: David Clarke; Chris Barrett, Oisín Mullin (0-1), Lee Keegan; Patrick Durcan, Stephen Coen (0-1m), Eoghan McLaughlin; Conor Loftus (0-1), Matthew Ruane; Kevin McLoughlin, Ryan O'Donoghue (0-2), Diarmuid O’Connor; Tommy Conroy, Aidan O’Shea, Cillian O’Connor (0-9, 0-5f, 0-2m). Subs used were: Michael Plunkett, James Carr, Darren Coen (0-1), Jordan Flynn, James Durcan.
The Dublin team that started was: Stephen Cluxton; Michael Fitzsimons, David Byrne, Jonny Cooper; Eoin Murchan, John Small (0-1), Robert McDaid; Brian Fenton (0-1), James McCarthy; Niall Scully (0-1), Ciaran Kilkenny (0-3), Seán Bugler (0-1); Paddy Small, Con O'Callaghan (1-1), Dean Rock (1-4, 0-4f). Subs used: Brian Howard (0-1), Paul Mannion (0-1f), Colm Basquel, Cormac Costello, Philip McMahon.