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Published: 18:45 | 1/10/16

Dublin pip Mayo in All-Ireland final thriller


Dublin have retained the All-Ireland SFC title after they narrowly edged past Mayo by 1-15 to 1-14 in a thrilling final at Croke Park.

Diarmuid Connolly's penalty ultimately proved decisive to help the Boys in Blue secure back-to-back crowns for the first time since 1977.

In a classic encounter which to-ed and fro-ed, Cillian O'Connor - who was outstanding throughout - had an opportunity to force the game into extra-time but his long-range free from 35-40m in the seventh minute of stoppage time drifted just wide of the post.

Having failed to play to their high standards in the drawn game two weeks ago, the Dubs came flying out of the traps and having fired over the first four points, they eventually led by 0-10 to 1-6 at the break.

Both teams suffered blows with Jonny Cooper for Dublin and Lee Keegan for Mayo - who rifled home a superb goal on 18 minutes - black-carded in the first half.

The Westerners' keeper Robert Hennelly, controversially picked to replace David Clarke, was also black-carded when fouling Paddy Andrews after he had gifted the Dublin forward the ball with the goal gaping, Connolly slamming home an inch-perfect spot-kick.

In a cracking finish, substitute Cormac Costello knocked over three classy points and while O'Connor kept his side in the hunt with his ninth point, his effort for a tenth at the death went agonisingly wide of Stephen Cluxton's post to ensure the long wait for Sam Maguire to return to Mayo continues.

Dean Rock matched O'Connor's haul and ends the season as the Championship's top scorer, his reliable brilliant self from frees - the number Stephen Rochford's side gave Dublin within shooting range was punished by the clinical Rock.

This is the eighth final since 1951 which Mayo have lost and questions will be asked about the wisdom of changing goalkeepers for the final, with Hennelly's error for the penalty and his lack of assuredness from his kick-outs highlighting how the decision backfired spectacularly.

Having settled into the game after Dublin's electric start, Mayo grabbed four points in-a-row to be level by the 13th minute.

Dublin edged back in front but the impressive Aidan O'Shea's off-load found Keegan bursting through and he shot past Cluxton right into the bottom corner of the net to put Mayo in front.

Dublin managed to get back in front by the break but Mayo came out flying after the restart and led until Hennelly spilled a straightforward centre into the grateful path of Andrews; the keeper was black-carded and Connolly lashed home the penalty.

Man-of-the-match Mick Fitzsimons and James McCarthy were excellent in holding back the Mayo tide as they looked to get level.

Costello's introduction along with Bernard Brogan saw the pair grab four points to put Dublin in control.

But Mayo remained in touch and they were within one point as the game was in its final seconds but O'Connor was unable to take advantage of a generous free-kick and the game was finally up for Rochford's men.

For Jim Gavin and this magnificent Dublin side, a fourth All-Ireland title in six years and a serious case that they are the best squad of players to ever come out of the capital.

Mayo can be proud of their performance and the part they played in a memorable final but the narrow loss will be a tough one to take.

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