THE one hundred and twenty-seventh All-Ireland Senior Football Championship final ended in a nail-biting draw between competitors Dublin and Mayo after a turbulent and exciting two halves of action.

After nearly seventy-nine minutes of play, Cillian O’Connor just managed to score an equalizing point for underdogs Mayo before the final whistle resulted in the first All-Ireland Football final replay since the year 2000.

It looked like it was all over when Dublin managed to scrape three points clear in the sixty-eighth minute, but with a staggering nine minutes of overtime added on, Mayo were given just the opportunity they required to get themselves back in the game – and earn the chance to redeem themselves in the replay.

It was what can only be described as a truly bizarre first half. Mayo ‘scored’ the only two goals of the game – but to the advantage of their opponents. After a promising start in which Mayo initially led by two points (scored by Tom Parsons and Cillian O’Connor respectively) and Patrick Durcan had a goal chance blocked by Jonny Cooper, the unthinkable happened when Kevin McLoughlin inadvertently deflected the ball into the back of his own net in the ninth minute, putting Dublin ahead by one point.

The second and final goal of the match was the result of another fumbling mishap by the Mayo side in the twenty-second minute, as Mayo defender Colm Boyle nudged the ball past his goalkeeper David Clarke during a scuffle with Dean Rock in front of the goal.

Shortly afterwards, things appeared to be looking up for Mayo when Dublin wing-back James McCarthy was sent off for a black card offence on Cillian O’Connor – however, this quickly changed when his replacement Paddy Andrews immediately made his presence known on the pitch, scoring two points for Dublin and making the score 2-4 to 0-5 in favour of the home team at half-time.

Mayo came back swinging after half-time, scoring the first five points of the second half, but they never quite managed to get ahead of their opponents. Dublin acquired their first score of the half in the fifty-first minute, courtesy of Brian Fenton, which was soon followed by a point from Rock putting them two ahead of the western side.

Andy Moran and Alan Dillon soon rectified the situation for Mayo, leaving the two teams neck-and-neck in the final minutes of normal play, but the game seemed all over when John Small, Rock and Connolly pushed Dublin a goal ahead with only two minutes of normal time left to play.