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GAA | Mayo produce stunning comeback to end Dublin's reign

"All empires crumble. The Greeks, the Romans and now the Dubs." Colm O'Rourke

Mayo have beaten Dublin by 0-17 to 0-14 after extra time to reach the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship final and end the Dubs' six-year reign as champions.

James Horan's men, who trailed by 0-10 to 0-4 at half-time in Croke Park, produced a stunning comeback in the second half of normal time to send the semi-final to extra time in the capital.

In a game that was laden with drama and controversial refereeing decisions from Conor Lane, Mayo goalkeeper Rob Hennelly split the posts with a 45 in the seventh minute of second-half stoppage time to tie the sides at 0-13 apiece, sending a dramatic semi-final to extra time in Croke Park.

Dublin, who had led by 0-10 to 0-4 at half-time in normal time, drew first blood in extra time when substitute Sean Bugler fisted over an early point.

However, unanswered points from Tommy Conroy (two), Darren Coen and Ryan O'Donoghue saw Mayo carry a three-point lead into the break.

The Connacht champions held their nerve in the second half of extra time, withstanding the desperate onslaught from Dessie Farrell's Dubs to finally defeat their bitter rivals in the Championship.

Mayo will now face Kerry or Tyrone in the final, with a final verdict on whether the Red Hand will be offered a delayed date for their semi-final with the Kingdom due to the COVID-19 outbreak in their camp yet to be announced.

Full match report

Dublin dominated the opening quarter in front of 25,000 fans at Croker, settling into their groove immediately and plundering five points from turnovers.

Points from Dean Rock (two), Ciaran Kilkenny and Con O'Callaghan saw the reigning champions race into a four-point lead within 10 minutes, with Matty Ruane finally getting Mayo on the scoreboard in the 12th minute.

Kilkenny and Ryan O'Donoghue then traded points, with Rock adding his second free to give the Boys in Blue a 0-6 to 0-2 at the water break.

Mayo's difficulties were summed up by Aidan O'Shea's performance, with the captain kicking a mark wide from 14 yards and struggling to influence the game.

Two more frees by Rock and a point for Paddy Small after the resumption extended the Dubs' lead to seven points, before Hennelly came forward to slot over a free on the '45 just before the half-hour mark.

A dull period of cautious 'keep ball' possession from Dublin was punctuated by another point for Kilkenny, before Conor Loftus sent over a fine score to reduce Farrell's men's lead to six points at the interval.

The game looked all but over at the halfway stage, but Mayo had other ideas.

Horan's side enjoyed more possession after the restart, with O'Donoghue notching the first score of the second half. The Mayo manager then made the big decision to withdraw captain O'Shea and Michael Plunkett, with Bryan Walshe and James Carr being sent on in their stead.

Lee Keegan made it a three-point game with a trademark driving run and point just before the water break.

It took the Dubs until the 53rd minute to register their first score of the second half, with Paddy Small recording their 11th point after being picked out by Brian Howard.

Soon afterwards, Eoghan McLaughlin had to be stretchered off the pitch after a heavy collision with John Small left the former requiring medical treatment on the pitch.

The Mayo players and bench were furious that play continued - with Dublin going close to bagging a goal - and that Small escaped a red card for his dangerous shoulder, which caught McLaughlin in the head.

Referee Conor Lane deemed a yellow card to be sufficient punishment, with replays soon showing that the challenge certainly didn't fall into the 'shoulder-to-shoulder' category.

Rock extended Dublin's lead to five with a curling effort in the 59th minute, before a wonderful piece of determined improvisation from Diarmuid O'Connor kept Hennelly's off-target free in play at the end line, with Kevin McLoughlin then converting a crucial point as the tide of the game turned firmly in Mayo's favour.

Jordan Flynn drew Mayo to within a goal of the All-Ireland champions after a HawkEye decision went his way.

 O'Donoghue's close-range free reduced Dublin's lead to two points in the 67th minute.

Farrell's men looked uncharacteristically rattled and panicked in the closing stages, with their attempts to hold on to the ball being overturned by the relentless Mayo players.

Conroy produced an excellent score in the 69th minute to make it a one-point game, and there were roars in the Mayo sections of the crowd when seven minutes of additional time were announced.

Rock made no mistake with another free to make it 0-13 to 0-11 as the game entered stoppage time.

Dublin were lucky not to be reduced to 14 men temporarily as David Byrne was shown a yellow for a cynical foul on McLoughlin as Mayo ran at the Dublin defence, with O'Donoghue scoring the subsequent free.

The Boys in Blue attempted to keep the ball deep in their own half in the last minute of stoppage time, hand-passing the ball around their own goals before a wave of Mayo pressure forced a hasty scuffed clearance which went behind for a 45.

Hennelly strode forward to take the 45, but his effort sailed wide of the posts.

Lane ordered a retake, however, as Dublin substitute Philly McMahon had walked past Hennelly just before the Mayo goalkeeper's kick.

Hennelly held his nerve to send the retake between the posts, much to the delight of the Mayo fans.

A schmozzle broke out in the dying seconds after Diarmuid O'Connor hit the deck, with players from both benches spilling on to the pitch as the officials struggled to maintain order.

Lane eventually blew the full time whistle, sending the match to extra time.

After 20 more intense minutes, Mayo finally got over the line in their long-term bid to dethrone Dublin.

The Dubs' unprecedented and remarkable reign as All-Ireland champions is over, but Farrell's men will undoubtedly be back next year.

Mayo fans will now be dreaming of finally ending their All-Ireland drought...

Dublin: Evan Comerford; Michael Fitzsimons, Davey Byrne, Jonny Cooper; James McCarthy, John Small, Eoin Murchan; Brian Fenton, Brian Howard; Paddy Small (0-02), Ciarán Kilkenny (0-03, 1m), Niall Scully; Dean Rock (0-07, 2f), Con O'Callaghan (0-01), Cormac Costello

Subs: Colm Basquel for Costello (49), Tom Lahiff for Cooper (51), Sean Bugler (0-01) for Scully (61), Sean MacMahon for Murchan (67), Philly MacMahon for MacMahon (76), Robert McDaid for Small (81), Aaron Byrne for Howard (82), Costello for Paddy Small (85).

Mayo: Rob Hennelly (0-03, 3f); Padraig O'Hora, Lee Keegan, Michael Plunkett; Paddy Durcan, Stephen Coen, Eoghan McLaughlin; Matthew Ruane (0-01), Conor Loftus (0-01); Diarmuid O'Connor, Kevin McLoughlin (0-01), Darren McHale; Tommy Conroy (0-03), Aidan O'Shea, Ryan O'Donoghue (0-05, 2f, 1m).

Subs: Enda Hession for McHale (27), Bryan Walsh for Plunkett (49) James Carr for O'Shea (49), Jordan Flynn (0-01) for McLaughlin (57), Conor O'Shea for Loftus (64) Darren Coen (0-01) for Stephen Coen (75), Loftus for McLoughlin (81) Brendan Harrison for O'Connor (87), Aidan O'Shea for Coen (90).

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