Mayo will meet Donegal in the All-Ireland football final after the Westerners shocked champions Dublin at Croke Park.

James Horan’s side led by 10 points at one stage before finally hanging on for a 0-19 to 0-16 win after a late Dublin revival.

The Connacht champions worked like Trojans to upset the odds and set-up a final date with fellow underdogs Donegal.

A relieved Horan told RTÉ television: “I’m delighted. We came through a battle today. We lost a few players and a few guys went down with cramp and that but we kept at it.

“Dublin got a run on us in the second half but we just kept going. We kept believing and we got there in the end. We’re delighted to get out of there and we’re already looking forward to the next game now.

“Dublin came at us in the second half as we suspected they would. They started to get a lot of the breaking ball and it was all shoulders to the pump.

“We kept going, got through, even though we made some very basic mistakes. But we showed real character to come through it. We’re delighted with the win.

“Momentum certainly went with them. We seemed to run out of a bit of juice 10 or 15 minutes into the half. They got every breaking ball. They got about eight or nine breaks in a row and that put huge pressure on us. Our backs, in particular, defended superbly.

“There were a lot of goal chances but we kept them all out and that is what won us the game. There were a huge amount of mistakes today but we’ll go away as we always do and work on them and prepare for the next game.”

Dublin manager Pat Gilroy praised his players for coming back from that 10 point deficit but admitted the right team won.

Gilroy said: “I think we were quite close to Mayo’s intensity but not quite at it for 26 or 27 minutes.

“Then a couple of cheap scores at the end, like easy scores that we gave away at the end of the first half put us into a very difficult position at six points down. We continued that pattern after half-time and went 10 behind.

“We were close, far closer than in the league and when we really put the screw on, we put them under severe pressure but it was probably just too late.

“I don’t think it’s any harder defending it as winning it. It’s just very difficult. Other teams get better, people are good. I think, I couldn’t fault any player for their application or their effort this year.

“They all did everything, even more so than last year and physically they were probably even a step up from where they were last year and it wasn’t good enough. So, to win an All-Ireland is a huge task and I think other teams just probably do get a bit better.”

Gilroy refused to speculate on his own future. He added: “I don’t even know what I am doing next week, not to mind next year, so this is not the time to think about those things.

“It’s very raw at the minute so we need to go away for a week or two and have a good think, there’s other people always involved in me making a decision to go on with this.

“I have other paymasters and things like that, that have to be happy about it. So I’ll take my time and think about it.”


A general view of Croke Park. DublinSportsfile