In the film Heat we have an iconic coming together of two greats in what’s known as the Restaurant Scene. De Niro, the bad guy, Pacino, the cop, come face to face. They talk, the scene is mesmerising. Both, though on opposite sides, have a lot in common. I suspect they even like each other.
Towards the end of that iconic shoot, Pacino tells his foe that though they broke bread and coffee together, he, Pacino would put him “down” if he had to. De Niro looks back, pauses as he fiddles with a napkin and says that there is another side to that coin. What if he, De Niro, is cornered: what will he do? Looking Al in the eye, Robert says that yes, they talked like two old buddies, but if it was a choice of jail and freedom, Pacino the cop would go down.
We are in the restaurant scene now. We have spoken and taken action, we have given it our best shot. So too have Dublin.
Sunday September 18th was the most surreal day ever for me. We witnessed a battle that will in time be seen across the ages as mighty. We never flinched. The announcement of seven additional minutes had all the Mayos in my section standing up. We believed we wouldn’t lose.
Now we must believe we will win. Dublin got the other side of De Niro’s coin. They threw the sink at us – yes, they did. We grabbed it and flung it back. The photo that summed it all up for me wasn’t Connolly’s torn jersey, or Boyle’s airborne tackle on Small, it was Diarmuid O’Connor dragging the same Dublin player away from the crash zone. The look on his face, the grip of his hands showed he was in town for war.
Dublin in those last surreal moments took on the faded colour and pallor of the condemned man. They paled visibly in front of us. History was been made by us as it was being snatched from them. The ropes saved them from crashing out of the ring. The leaden heavy grey sky mirrored their inner turmoil.
However come Saturday next all that counts for nothing. Alan Brogan thinks that the bear was poked. Really, Alan – which one. Dublin is it? His inference being that they will fire on all cylinders and correct the wrong they see visited upon them. If only it were that easy, son.
I spent the last year as Doubting Thomas Cuffe, awaiting the crack, awaiting the edifice called Mayo to crumble. A moderate league gave credence to my theory. Galway went a long way proving it.
And then a strange thing happened. No, Mayo didn’t explode into technicolor brilliance. Instead they spluttered along like a dodgy engine bringing you home with the dashboard lights dimming by the moment. But the old engine got you home.
Eamonn O’Hara said if Mayo beat Tyrone then Tipperary would be in the All-Ireland final. The old engine chugged along, Dillon at 3 to add to the confusion, really no full-back. A meltdown of seismic proportions for Mickey Harte, Sean Cavanagh and Tyrone saw Mayo prevail. O’Hara’s prophecy was shredded as Mayo did just enough to oust Tipperary where again our capacity to play a false full-back flummoxed the best of their brains.
Kerry and Dublin played a classic, according to the Dublin and Kerry press luvvies. That was the “real” final. Only Mayo once more refused to play Patsy to the on rushing Blue Wave. Ground was stood, hits given and taken, jerseys sundered and bones crunched. When the dust settled , or in this case, the mist cleared, awkward and ugly Mayo still stood … unbowed.
Saturday the sink will be flung once more. Like a disrespected Don, like a scorned lover, Dublin will be in from the start. Brogan, McManamon, Flynn and MDMA will be smarting from the short crook and hook. Philly didn’t really feature the last day. So be prepared from the off. It won’t be pretty.
This is where the management team earn their corn. It is my belief that the core that drives the team comes from within the player group themselves. So we come with something that cannot be bought – balls and guts. Dublin’s midfield got the upper hand the last day: that’s not a criticism, it’s a fact. We need to nullify that area.
Our kick-out strategy gives them a 50% chance on most restarts. High and hanging like the ones in the last fifteen minutes the last day will kill us on Saturday. We have to eradicate that.
Yes, our goalie made great saves. I would expect no less – it’s his job. The two ping-pong own goals came from not having a designated 3 bossing the square. Look back at the photos. The keeper is out after making great saves but our entire back line is running inwards.
With both sides looking for those invisible inches and with Dublin expected to find them, wouldn’t it be wonderful if we were the ones to pose the questions? Remember two mighty fetches by Big Barry against Tipperary at a crucial stage: they sapped the Munster men. Recall the deployment of Dillon against Tyrone and their inability to figure what the hell was happening.
Dublin have the benefit of 78 minutes against us to right it. We have the same amount of minutes to look back on too.
Cody, Boylan, Loughnane and a younger Harte pulled the magical rabbit out when needed. We need the same conjuring trick. This replay will be won not be changing the aftershave but by wearing a new suit of clothes.
The heat is on. We have spoken and met. We have done battle. On Saturday we go to war again and to end it once and for all. May all who sail on our good ship find then what we most desire.