2024 TG4 All-Ireland Finals tickets

Flashback to 2002 semi-final clash with Metropolitans

Flashback to 2002 semi-final clash with Metropolitans By
Ivan Neill

Memories of the epic semi-final clash between Mayo and Dublin
at Pearse Park, Longford, last year, will come flooding back
when the counties throw down the gauntlet to each other in
Sunday’s All-Ireland final at Croke Park, which is expected
to attract an attendance in the region of 35,000.

With twenty-five minutes remaining, it seemed Mayo were coasting
to victory, leading 2-8 to 1-3. However, Dublin rallied with
terrific force and with five minutes to go Mayo were desperately
defending a three points advantage.

The large Mayo support were put through endless nightmares
and panic attacks as the Dublin attack mounted sustained pressure.
Indeed the agony for the red and green followers continued
until the dying seconds when Marcella Heffernan, in an isolated
attack, lifted Mayo four points clear, enough to see them
into their fourth successive final.

A few minutes earlier, though, Mayo hearts must have stopped
beating when Dublin managed to breach the Mayo defence for
a goal to draw level. Deep silence fell over Pearse Park while
the referee remained in consultation with his umpires, and
when the score was disallowed the sigh of relief among the
Mayo natives must have been heard in the adjoining counties.

Such a dramatic finish could not have been anticipated earlier
in the game, as Mayo had raced into a 1-4 to 0-1 lead by the
end of the first quarter. Cora Staunton took advantage of
an error by the Dublin goalkeeper to knock in the goal in
the 10th minute.

Dublin struggled all over the field to stay abreast with Mayo’s
brand of exciting possession football. Claire Egan and Rachel
Barrett won a lot of possession at midfield, while the Mayo
defence denied Dublin a score from play until the 14th minute,
when Louise Kelly scored an opportunist goal.

Mayo led by 1-6 to 1-2 at the interval and six minutes into
the second half the Mayo attack again split the Dublin defence
for the best goal of the match by Marcella Heffernan, following
a move involving defender Edel Biggins and corner forward
Emma Mullin. That goal left Mayo 2-8 to 1-3 ahead and a place
in the final against Monaghan appeared secured. Suddenly,
Dublin became alive and from five frees Dublin full-forward,
Sile NicCoitir, reduced Mayo’s advantage down to three points
with four minutes remaining.

Heart-thumping stuff continued until Marcella Heffernan’s
last second point – Mayo’s only score since the 36th minute
– assured the Connacht champions of a place in the final.

Mayo: Denise Horan; Nuala O’Shea, Helena Lohan, Mary
T. Garvey; Claire O’Hara, Yvonne Byrne, Edel Biggins; Claire
Egan, Rachel Barrett; Ciara McDermott, Christina Heffernan(Capt)
(0-1), Jackie Moran; Emma Mullin, Marcella Heffernan (1-2),
Cora Staunton (1-5).

Subs: Michelle McGing (0-1), Edel Reilly, Triona McNicholas.

Dublin: S. Hughes; O. Smith, M. Farrell (capt), L.
Roche; T. Allen, O. Colreavy, G.Faye; N. McEvoy, M. Kavanagh;
M. Nevin (0-1), A. McNally, L. Kelly (1-0); A. McCormack,
S. Nic Coitir (0-7, 0-6f), J. O’Sullivan.

Referee: E. McElroy (Down).

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