FOR those of us with green and gold blood, and even for those who joined the movement in a most temporary basis for the past two weeks, watching the Dubs make it five in a row wasn’t much fun!
Let’s get the congratulations out of the way, it was some awesome achievement, the first such occurrence in the 135-year history of the organisation. Right now though, both the half-full and half-empty glasses are on the menu.
I will begin in positive mode and recognise that the game brought to end a year that was a good one for fans of the big ball game. The sport is easy on the eyes again, for the most part, and I would like to think that the drawn game and replay will have a positive influence on how football will be coached going forward.
On Saturday I again headed to the TV stadium in the company of over 1.1 million others to view the latest installment of this special rivalry. It can now be argued that Dublin and Kerry is slowly developing into an institution of Irish sport.
It wasn’t long before I realised that it was going to be a historic day. In the previous six finals since 2015, Dublin trailed after the first quarter, on this occasion they were ahead.
Three minutes in, three different point-scorers, all off the left foot, serious skill in evidence. On the other hand, I didn’t need to contact Joe Brolly in the stand, or any others of the pundit people to ascertain what was going wrong with our dear Kerry folk.
They went long, with their first six attacks, but the new look blue defensive unit repelled each one akin to a dominant tennis player returning serve. Not wishing to be critical of the sideline suits, should Kerry have started Tommy Walsh as a target man, if the long ball was the early tactical weapon?
When Dublin moved four ahead, the locks on the floodgates began to creak, serious credit then to Kerry for a magnificent response. At the tea break, Dublin playing well, maybe just maybe, the heart would get one over the head. Then the throw-in that made a new hero in Dublin.
If for a moment, I could take you back to the opening half, where a young lady situated in the same viewing room as yours truly received a message (don’t ask me which form of social media was in use) from her friend, who works in Dublin. It was only while watching that this lady realised that one of her work colleagues, Eoin Murchen, was playing with Dublin.
I am not sure, whether this discovery tells us more about the Dublin based lady or about her work colleague. I was subsequently informed after a few more messages, that he was a sound guy. Now he was about to shatter the dreams of the majority on us and steer Jim Gavin’s ship into the most exclusive of harbours.
There was a time when the throw-in was, by and large, a non-event, a method of commencing the first and second half of a game. Nowadays, it is viewed as an opportunity to gain possession and the possibility of securing flag activity.
Like all great plans, a malfunction is always a possibility and this was a major one. Not sure who David Moran had in mind when he knocked it back into the Dublin side of the field, but it arrived into the hands of Murchan. Has any player ever covered as much ground, with two hops and a solo, without hearing the sound of the referee’s whistle. Did he overcarry? Of course he did!
This was a black card goal, David Moran giving chase, he could have downed him, but the price was probably too high to pay. It reminded me of a high-speed police chase, where the only way the police could capture its intended target was by rear-ending it, a risky business. Anyway, the man is now recognised not only by all who work in his office, but by at least 1.5 million of the population.
After the first game, I mentioned that Dublin were the crowd that could have thrown it away, but in the cold light of day, let us be quite clear, Dublin were and are the better team. Of the 155 minutes, over the course of the two games, Kerry only led for 10 minutes, a statistic that tells its own story. One aspect of the Dublin game that may need to be viewed by other teams, is their ability to get goals, across their eight-game championship summer, they have raised 19 green flags.
Kerry created four goal chances in the drawn game and three in the replay, but the reality is that against Dublin’s 19, they only scored eight this summer. David Clifford is a serious talent and despite another close man working operation on Saturday, he still finished with four points, but one does wonder, should he on occasion go for the jugular.
This summer, we have seen Patrick Horgan add a major dimension to his game, in terms of green flag activity, it would be nice for Kerry folk if Clifford was to do the same. Yes, all Kerry people will be pleased with the way 2019 worked out, but one still wonders as to when this Dublin team will stop winning. If one viewed Dublin’s winning margin in their seven All-Ireland final games in the drive for five, you could come to the conclusion that the chasing pack are near, but in reality, nothing could be further from the truth.
in 2015 they beat Kerry by three points. A year later, they draw with Mayo and won the replay by one. Then in 2017, they have one to spare again against Mayo and twelve months later Tyrone fell short by six points and then we had the happenings of the past few weeks.
Looking at the age profile of the main guys, it appears that this Dublin team are simply going to keep on winning and that, my friends is a scenario we could do without. Right now maybe, we should park our concerns as to who will prevent the Dubs doing the half dozen and concentrate on who might stop Kerry doing eight in a row in Munster.
Over to you Ronan McCarthy. Has a Division 3 team ever won the Munster senior football championship? I doubt it, wouldn’t it be a nice historical note on which to begin the new decade. Nothing without dreams.