Job done. It wasn’t the perfect performance, we did far less than shoot the lights out but, that nervy opening quarter aside when Tipperary opened a three-point gap on us, we never really looked like losing today’s All-Ireland semi-final. We were full value for our five-point win and we’re now back in the big one for the third time in five years.
I’m under time pressure here with the others having already sloped off down the hill to the restaurant for dinner so I’m afraid I’ve very little time for match reporting duties on this one. I’ll try to distill what I’ve got to say, then, into a few key points.
The first is that it’s only right to acknowledge Tipp’s brave challenge today. They put it up to us a lot better than many of us – myself included – privately expected and they kept the outcome in the balance far longer than it looked like they would at half-time. Our devastating second quarter salvo looked to have done for them but fair play to them, they kept plugging away and made it a far nervier win for us that we would have liked.
Secondly, we have to salute Stephen and the players. When Galway unseated us in Connacht back in June few of us would have believed we’d make it this far. Well, we have and while we’re sure to go into the final as underdogs, who’s to say but that the most thrilling chapter of this compelling championship campaign has yet to be written?
For a good part of the first half today, that journey looked to be an unexpectedly tricky one. Tipp fronted up impressively and took the game to us with confidence. Our tackling lacked discipline – a fault I thought was evident on our part for long stretches today – and four frees had them six to three up.
A superb goal by Jason Doherty, created by a surging Keith Higgins run with Doc shimmying cleverly before pulling the trigger, brought us level and soon we had burst clear. By half-time we were six to the good, all six forwards had scored and Andy Moran – with four points to his credit – was on fire. So far so good.
We didn’t push on after the break, though, and instead allowed them to regain a toehold in the contest. After trading scores on the resumption, they then put on four unanswered points – three from frees – and suddenly the match was back in the mix again.
A longish period went by before the next score. Andy had a goal attempt saved, Cillian’s ’45 dropped short but eventually the ball was worked across to Colm Boyle who fired over from distance to steady us.
With the rain now spilling down (it’s still grand here, thanks for asking) the contest became even messier. As a result, scoring chances for both teams started to become a rarer commodity.
The next score was, though, the decisive one. One sub – Evan Regan – created it, with a mishit shot that bobbled in along the ground past the Tipp backline, and another – Conor O’Shea – finished deftly to the corner of the net at the Hill 16 end.
That was that. Tipp’s discipline had been going south since after half-time and the inevitable happened when Bill Maher got a straight red for a striking offence. Now they really were done for.
We were happy from then on to slow things down and suck all remaining life from the contest. Three more frees, one for us from Cillian and two for them, closed out a five-point win for us.
I could sit here and write some more but the rest of the family have started to tuck in at the taverna and I’m the one with the euros so I’m afraid I can’t dally any longer. But what else needs to be said? We won, we’re in the final and this great quest for glory goes on for us. I’ll drink to that!
Mayo: David Clarke; Brendan Harrison, Barry Moran, Keith Higgins; Lee Keegan (0-1), Colm Boyle (0-1), Paddy Durcan; Seamus O’Shea, Donal Vaughan; Kevin McLoughlin (0-1), Aidan O’Shea (0-1), Diarmuid O’Connor (0-2); Jason Doherty (1-0), Andy Moran (0-4), Cillian O’Connor (0-3, frees). Subs: Tom Parsons for Seamus O’Shea, Conor O’Shea (1-0) for Doherty, Evan Regan for Andy Moran, Chris Barrett for Boyle, Alan Dillon for McLoughlin, Conor Loftus for Cillian O’Connor.
No post-match audio for this one but the Man of the Match poll now up:
Who was our MOTM against Tipperary?
- Andy Moran (49%, 305 Votes)
- Keith Higgins (19%, 116 Votes)
- Aidan O'Shea (17%, 106 Votes)
- Barry Moran (4%, 23 Votes)
- Brendan Harrison (3%, 18 Votes)
- Colm Boyle (3%, 16 Votes)
- David Clarke (1%, 8 Votes)
- Jason Doherty (1%, 5 Votes)
- Tom Parsons (1%, 4 Votes)
- Seamus O'Shea (0%, 3 Votes)
- Chris Barrett (0%, 3 Votes)
- Conor O'Shea (0%, 3 Votes)
- Cillian O'Connor (0%, 3 Votes)
- Paddy Durcan (0%, 3 Votes)
- Donal Vaughan (0%, 3 Votes)
- Evan Regan (0%, 2 Votes)
- Alan Dillon (0%, 2 Votes)
- Conor Loftus (0%, 2 Votes)
- Lee Keegan (0%, 1 Votes)
- Diarmuid O'Connor (0%, 1 Votes)
- Kevin McLoughlin (0%, 1 Votes)
Total Voters: 627