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Published: 17:10 | 18/9/16

Dublin and Mayo to meet again

Dublin and Mayo will have to meet again to decide who will be this year's All-Ireland champions after the sides played out a 2-9 0-15 draw at a rain-soaked Croke Park.

Cillian O'Connor was the hero as the Mayo captain knocked over the equalising point in the seventh minute of injury time to book a replay.

On a day when their much-vaunted attackers failed to live up to their billing, the defending champions remarkably took until the 34th minute to register their first score from open play.

However, the Westerners still somehow managed to trail at that stage after suffering the misfortune of conceding two own goals in the first 23 minutes.

A brace of points from O'Connor had kept Mayo in touch until the second own goal and a pair of late scores from substitute Paddy Andrews - on for the black-carded James McCarthy - meant Dublin enjoyed a 2-4 to 0-5 lead at the break.

But Stephen Rochford's side came flying out of the traps after the restart, grabbing four points in four minutes before an O'Connor free drew them level on 45 minutes.

The Boys in Blue rallied and had established a three-point lead with two minutes remaining before another O'Connor free reduced the deficit to two.

Surprisingly, seven minutes were added on and after Donnie Vaughan had fired over a lovely point after one extra minute had elapsed, Dublin had the chance to grab an insurance point at the other end but Ciaran Kilkenny dallied and Eoghan O'Gara shot well wide under pressure.

This gave Mayo belief they weren't going to be beaten and O'Connor's brilliant point at the death gave them a deserved second shot at finally winning the Sam Maguire trophy after a 65-year wait.

Dublin will go away and analyse how and why Mayo were able to disrupt their attacking play, only nine scores over 77 minutes from a Dublin player a paltry effort for a team with their attacking talent.

With the usually reliable Dean Rock misfiring badly from the set-piece and less than assured in open play, none of Diarmuid Connolly, Bernard Brogan, Kevin McManamon or Paul Flynn stepped in to keep Dublin ticking along on the scoreboard.

In truth, with the Dubs' forwards a shadow of their usual selves, it was down to the defensive resilience of the likes of Jonny Cooper and Cian O'Sullivan - part of a backline who kept Aidan O'Shea very quiet - who Dublin can really thank for having a second shot at retaining the trophy.

While Mayo showed great courage and skill to come back from three points down with 68 minutes on the clock, in truth they should have taken advantage of a poor day at the office from Dublin to win their fourth All-Ireland crown.

The replay will take place on Saturday October 1st with a kick-off of 5pm and, hopefully, a drier pitch next time might produce a skillful match worthy of the occasion.

The game will rightly be remembered however, not for the error-strewn nature of large parts of it - largely caused by the slippery conditions - but because of the huge effort and outstanding commitment both sets of players showed throughout.

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