Jimmy's won the big one as Donegal are All-Ireland champions
A super-fast start by Donegal proved to be key as Jimmy McGuinness’s side won their first All-Ireland since 1992. Mayo’s woes on the big day continue.
This was one of those rare finals where all neutrals were happy to see either side win and all neutrals would feel a pang of pain for whatever side lost. What Jim McGuinness has achieved with Donegal over the last two years is nothing short of remarkable and their All-Ireland success was done in the hardest of ways, stretching back to the preliminary round in Ulster.
That said we can’t but feel sorry for Mayo as their quest to end 61 years of hurt continues after a 2-11 to 0-13 defeat at Croke Park today. James Horan would have sent them out looking for a solid start and instead they endured a nightmare. The first long ball into their defence by Karl Lacey was plucked from the air by Michael Murphy ahead of Kevin Keane and the big man turned and rifled the ball past David Clarke after three minutes.
Just after the 10-minute mark Colm McFadden reacted quickest to a ball that struck the post to grab Donegal’s second goal and put the men from the north-east ahead 2-1 to 0-0.
Donegal almost had a killer early trio of goals but Clarke stopped another McFadden effort shortly afterwards. Mayo eventually got off the mark courtesy of Kevin McLoughlin after 16 minutes and they were probably the better team the remainder of the first half. Cillian O’Connor, Enda Varley and Michael Conroy all helped Mayo get within three at the break, 2-4 to 0-7.
Mayo had the breeze in the second 35 but Donegal were sharper. McFadden scored another point just after the restart and a stunner by Frank McGlynn extended the Donegal lead.
A few bad wides from frees denied Mayo any momentum and at the other end McFadden and Murphy were keeping the scoreboard ticking over in very impressive fashion.
Entering the final 10 minutes the gap was back to six and Mayo had yet to score from play in the second half. Two quick points by Richie Feeney and Lee Keegan solved that and caused a few flutters in Donegal hearts but they would bend and not break in defence.
The required Mayo goal never looked like materialising and in truth, the better team won the day. The final whistle brought scenes of unbridled joy from one of the most passionate sets of fans in the country and tears of sadness from another set of fantastic supporters.
Mayo have undoubtedly progressed this season and maybe Donegal just have that extra year under their belt. Perhaps 2013 will be their year. There is no doubt that 2012 is Donegal’s.