Lee Keegan bagged a goal for the losing team.

Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

SIFTING THROUGH THE wreckage of Mayo’s second-half All-Ireland semi-final collapse, James Horan found it difficult to nail down exactly where it went wrong for his side.

Heading down the tunnel at half-time holding a two-point lead, Mayo could hardly have dreamed up a better position against their great rivals. 

Yet Jim Gavin’s side turned the game on its head with a devasting 12-minute spell where they scored 2-6 without replay to completely take control of the tie. 

There were no striking tactical tweaks from Dublin as far as Horan could tell.

“I don’t think so, nothing obvious,” he said. “They definitely pinned back their ears a little bit and ran at us when they got the ball. 

“They probably weren’t doing that as much in the first-half. Just they got a step on us a couple of times for some of those goals and they finished them very well. 

“The first-half was pretty strong, we defended well and built a few good scores. We were patient and did well, went in two points up and could have been a bit more. A lot of stuff that we tried to do was good. I thought we limited them, defended well and worked up a few scores.

“It was good but that ten minute period in the second-half they were very strong and we struggled to deal with it.

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“They were very strong in a short space of time, they came at us very hard. Con O’Callaghan got a goal, I think before that we put a shot into the goalie’s hands. They came down and scored from it, I think Lee (Keegan) fell.”

After O’Callaghan smashed in his first goal on 37 minutes, Mayo couldn’t win clean ball around the middle on their own restarts. Horan admitted as much.

“I think won the next five or six of our kick-outs and got a second goal. It was that period obviously where they were in complete control as we were struggling to get our hands on possession. Yeah, they were in a strong position for the rest of the game then.”

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James Horan during the game.

Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Dublin attacked in waves. It was relentless. O’Callaghan ghosted past Keegan with a shake of the hips and rolled in his second goal in the 46th minute. By the time Paul Mannion was curling over his fifth point of the afternoon, Dublin were 10 points clear and pretty much out of sight.

“A team like Dublin are always going to come at you,” Horan continued.

“They came at us and I suppose we were on the ropes but we didn’t deal with it well. They came running at us from a lot of different angles and really got their tails up.

“It took us a while to adjust but they were in control fo the game and the score at that stage. They just had a very strong period that we couldn’t deal with.

“They have such pace and athleticism and skill all over the place when Con O’Callaghan got the ball in his hands he was just going run at his man. When a couple of things like that happen suddenly your legs get a bit heavy and that kind of stuff and they took full advantage for that period.”

Keegan broke forward and hit the net for Mayo’s first score after 53 minutes. After the tidal wave they’de endured, it was about all a shell-shocked Mayo could muster.

They scored just two points in the final 20 minutes. Horan watched on helplessly as the curtain came down on the 2019 season. Unlike Liam Sheedy, his second coming won’t conclude with a trip to the All-Ireland final. 

The question over the future of some of these Mayo warriors will loom large over the winter. On the showing of the second 35 minutes, they look about as far away from the Dubs as they ever have.

Back to the drawing board. 

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