Had Mayo ended their wait since 1951 to secure Sam Maguire, Barrett would have been a strong contender for Man of the Match, having thundered into tackles throughout what was a bruising and gruelling battle. Instead, his challenge on Diarmuid Connolly deep into added time gave Dean Rock the opportunity to split the posts from the edge of his range.
Rock, having missed a free to draw the league final when Dublin lost to Kerry, nailed it. He was outstanding overall, top-scoring from play with four points, as well as his three frees.
Mayo still had a chance to salvage the game from the kick-out but it was miscued and the Dubs played keep-ball back to Stephen Cluxton in his square to frustrate the Westerners.
And it was exactly that. Another utterly galling defeat, by the minimum, in a game they could easily have won.
It wasn’t Barrett’s fault that Mayo lost. Far from it.
The sending off of Donal Vaughan was idiotic, the number three making the job easy for ref Joe McQuillan who was going to have to show John Small the line anyway, and costing Mayo a very scoreable free. Jason Doherty wasted a great goal chance when he might have been better off carrying possession on instead of shooting early.
The substitutions of Stephen Rochford and his management were hard to fathom. Whatever about introducing Diarmuid O’Connor for Seamus O’Shea, they took out Andy Moran, who despite tiring was still a serious threat close to goal, at a crucial stage.
None of Mayo’s replacements scored while Jim Gavin got a point from play each courtesy of subs Kevin McManamon and Connolly. If anything, Dublin’s mistake was starting Eoghan O’Gara, whose physicality wasn’t as telling as it can be when he is introduced off the bench.
Paul Mannion and James McCarthy, particularly, really upped the gears in the second half, sharing 0-5 from play between them, but Mayo perhaps lost this in the first half.
Apart from the opening goal through Con O’Callaghan, Dublin struggled to put the peddle to the mettle in the opening period and were fortunate to be just a point in arrears.
The little details always matter in big matches. O’Gara’s selection might have been a misstep by Gavin and his selectors, but he still nabbed a point in a narrow victory. So did Small, who was so reckless in getting himself dismissed for that second yellow.
Rock and Cillian O’Connor fluffed frees in the first half, but coming down the stretch, it was the Dublin inside forward who held his nerve, while O’Connor struck the upright from his favoured right side. Dublin’s best two forwards, Rock and Mannion, hit seven from play between them; Mayo’s main threats O’Connor and Moran managed six. It was that tight.
Overall, despite the underdogs being beaten, this was a classic game. It did emphasise though how far Cork are off the top teams.
In the minor game, Kerry were frighteningly dominant — from a Cork perspective certainly — with David Clifford completely living up to the hype that he’s one of the most talented forwards to emerge in quite some time.
Kerry stuffed Derry 6-17 to 1-8, with Clifford nailing 4-4 from play and setting up Fiachra Clifford, who stuck the other two goals.
The Kingdom number 11 has been basically unmarkable this year and last, a term that’s often used loosely but was completely accurate in this case.
Kerry wrapped up four in a row at minor level yesterday, having gone from 1994 to 2014 without lifting the Tommy Markham Cup at all. The big concern over the border is that Clifford is such a phenomenal athlete, that a number of Aussie Rules teams are monitoring his progress. While it might make life easier for Cork, it would be a shame if an incredible talent was lost to Gaelic football.
As a side note, the Kerry keeper Deividas Uosis from Dingle was born in Lithuania and his extended family were in Croke Park to watch him make history and land an All-Ireland.
Meanwhile, the Kingdom manager Peter Keane’s brother Ray is the coach of the St Finbarr’s footballers, who take on Ballincollig on Friday night at Páirc Uí Rinn, 7.30pm in a highly- anticipated county quarter-final.