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Mayo far from perfect but perfectly content after that

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Colm Basquel.

Colm Basquel.

Colm Basquel.

What a win for Mayo, who showed huge character and football skill to finally get the better of their nemesis Dublin on a great occasion in Croke Park.

This game almost defies analysis. Because Mayo won it with a forward line that scored two points from play in normal time.

Hurt

That start will hurt this great Dublin team the most. They never lose matches form that position.

But then again this is not the great Dublin team of five years ago either.

How they missed the pace of Jack McCaffrey, the left foot of Paul Mannion and the magic that might have flowed from Diarmuid Connolly’s boot.

One word of warning to spoil Mayo’s party this morning. They were here before, in 2006 and 2012, beating Dublin in All-Ireland semi-finals.

They didn’t win the final either year. There was no Sam handed out last night.

They need to go again and to come back better than ever in the final because, although they won, a lot of what Mayo produced in this match will not win them a Final.

James Horan will know that more than most.

Intention

What were they at in the first half? The team that took the match to Dublin so well in the second half played with the intention of keeping the score down.

They had 13 men behind the ball, handed the Dubs the initiative and allowed them play on their terms.

Never mind my famous phrase of puke football, this was ‘Kamikaze Football’, it was only ever going to end one way if they kept at it – in western defeat.

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Two things tell you everything you need to know about Mayo in Croke Park last night.

Not a single forward scored from play in the first half, and their first change from the sideline to try and alter the flow of the contest was to take off a half-forward. And bring on a corner-back! Dear God.

I say it again – that will not work in the final.

There was a wind blowing in Croke Park last night and it favoured the team playing towards the Canal End. So Mayo, with nothing to lose, began to run at Dublin.

When Mayo did push up, we saw even their very best players, like James McCarthy and Ciarán Kilkenny, give the ball away.

Miss

We saw Colm Basquel miss a gilt-edge chance of a goal. That’s not Dublin, who are usually ruthless when they get a smell of a goal.

But they haven’t been raising green flags this season – no goal scored against either Wexford or Kildare.

Basquel’s miss was the turning point of the game.

Mayo took huge heart from the escape and came back with the mental strength that is a hallmark of the team.

In fact they scored six of the last seven points of normal time.

It was Basquel’s his absence for the first ten minutes of extra-time that allowed Mayo build up their winning lead.

Is this the end for Dublin? The end of their invincibility for sure, the end of the team, not quite.

They will be back.

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