Like the way we were paired with Galway last Monday, there was an air of inevitability about this morning’s All-Ireland SFC quarter-final draw. It would have to be us against the Dubs, wouldn’t it? Of course it would. Of course it was.
The match has now been fixed for Sunday at Croke Park with a 4pm throw-in. David Gough of Meath will ref it and it’ll be preceded at HQ by the quarter-final between Cork and Derry. Both matches will be shown live on RTÉ.
Although the Mayo/Dublin rivalry was the biggest in the game over much of the last decade, it was one in which, despite all the great battles between the two teams, Dublin invariably came out on top. In fact, after our All-Ireland semi-final win over them in 2012, we never bested them at all in League or Championship until the semi-final of the Covid-impacted Championship in 2021.
We’ve only met them once since that memorable night when we finally brought the long unbeaten run of the six-in-a-row champions to an end. That was in the League the following spring when we had five points to spare over them at Croke Park. That win, by the way, was our first League victory over Dublin in a game played in the capital since 1971.
Our loss to Kerry in last year’s All-Ireland quarter-final meant we didn’t get to face the Dubs last summer. As they were plying their trade in Division Two this spring we didn’t meet in the League this year either.
So what have they been up to this year?
Following their relegation last year from the League’s top tier, the Dubs’ mission this spring was a simple one: bounce back up. There was never really any doubt but that they’d do this, which they duly did.
They won six of their regulation League games and the sole loss was to Derry, behind whom they finished in the Division Two table. That defeat occurred in Round 5 and before then they got the better of Kildare, Limerick, Cork and Clare (in that order), with further victories after that Derry reversal coming against Meath and Louth.
Derry gave them socks in the opening half of the Division Two final as well, a match that was played at Croke Park before our Division One final against Galway. The Oak Leaf County went in two points ahead at half-time but Dublin smashed in four second half goals to win comfortably by seven points.
Leinster proved the usual predictable cakewalk for the Dubs, though Kildare ran them far closer than expected at the semi-final stage. In the quarter-final they overwhelmed Laois by 27 points but they had only two to spare over the Lilywhites. They hammered Louth by 21 points in the Leinster final, to seal their 13th provincial title in a row.
As one of the four top seeds, Dublin were drawn in Group 3 against Sligo, Roscommon and Kildare in the All-Ireland group stage. They topped this group, with two wins and a draw to advance directly to the All-Ireland quarter-final.
Their first game was the most awkward one for them, in which they found Roscommon a real handful. That game was immortalised due to the Rossies’ six-minute keep-ball at the end of the first half, which led to a laughable chorus of demands for rule changes in its wake, but which some observers noted only lasted as long as it did due to Dublin’s passivity in their attempts to get the ball back.
There was nothing passive, however, about Dublin in their remaining group matches. Kildare were expected to back up their fine Leinster showing but Dublin cruised to a comfortable nine-point win at Nowlan Park and then they routed Sligo by 24 points in the final round to emerge as group winners.
That put them in the opposite pot to us in this morning’s draw and you know the rest.
All roads now lead to Croke Park on Sunday, which, for us, sees us involved in a second knockout Championship tie in seven days. We survived the one yesterday, how do you think we’ll do this coming Sunday? Let’s end with a vote on that.
Will we down the Dubs?
- Yes (64%, 961 Votes)
- No (36%, 532 Votes)
Total Voters: 1,493