Monday morning it is and the kids have all been packed off to school after their summer hols. I felt for them, I have to say, heading off this morning but, in truth, they didn’t look too upset – the little lad even blew me a few kisses à la Joe Brolly on the way out the door. Cheeky little sod.
So, then, is it worth our while showing up at Croke Park at all at all on the 22nd? I have to admit I was fairly taken aback at the downbeat tone expressed by many in the comments last night about our chances of doing a number on the super Dubs in three weeks time. Downright timorous, a lot of this was, bordering on pusillanimous in fact. Time to take some advice from Mr T, I say.
It is, I know, easy enough to get bowled over by all the superlatives that were tossed around at the conclusion of yesterday’s shootout but anyone who thinks that the final will see a repeat of this kind of helter-skelter contest really needs to think again. I had a rueful smile when I heard yesterday’s match being described as “the game of the decade” – does anyone recall Colm O’Rourke saying just after we beat the Dubs back in 2006 that if he lived to a hundred he wouldn’t see a better match?
Yesterday’s match was the result of what happens when you have two teams with a number of talented footballers but also a number of miscast players within their ranks – in particular in their backlines – going at it hammer and tongs for the full seventy minutes. It was thrilling, it was spectacular but there was bugger all method to this madness. It’s worth looking through both teams’ defences to underline this point.
Kerry first. Full-back line: Marc Ó Sé (struggled with the pace of the game), Mark Griffin (second championship game – utterly raw and out of his depth), Shane Enright (alright but far from stellar), Tomas Ó Sé (excellent but ran out of gas – not surprising at 35), Peter Crowley (thrown in at centre-back due to Killian Young’s absence and struggled badly), Fionn Fitzgerald (first championship season – utterly raw and out of his depth).
Dublin. Cluxton (completely panic-stricken once his favoured short kick-out trick was negated – but we already knew this from last year); Kevin O’Brien (first championship season – utterly raw and out of his depth), Rory O’Carroll (good full-back but left exposed and isolated), Jonny Cooper (first championship season – utterly raw and out of his depth, also very lucky to stay on after committing at least three yellow card offences), James McCarthy (underperformed badly, early booking didn’t help him), Ger Brennan (torn to shreds), Jack McCaffrey (a boy sent out in a man’s world, with predictable results).
Now, tell me how many of either backline would you swap for one of our lads. And how do you think we’ll do, pouring forward at a Dublin defence like that? I know it’ll be a rejigged Dublin defence for the final but that means it’ll be a less tried and trusted one too.
The two midfields largely cancelled each other out, though Macauley was, once more to the fore. With the two O’Sheas and Barry waiting in the wings, I wouldn’t lose sleep over the battle facing us there on the 22nd either.
Both forward lines were better but, with such disastrous defending, it was easy for forwards to thrive. Even then Paul Flynn and Ciaran Kilkenny failed badly for Dublin and Paddy Andrews, for all his running, produced little in terms of end product. Paul Mannion’s goal was superb (though the ball in was a mis-hit point attempt) but he did little or nothing apart from that. I was overly harsh, I accept, in the post-match audio on Bernard Brogan – he’ll need minding in the final, for sure, as will Diarmuid Connolly, who was excellent throughout. Colm Cooper, Donnchadh Walsh and James O’Donoghue were brilliant in spots for Kerry, though only in the first half. We may not have the same kind of media-darling forwards but we can get scores from all over the field, something I can’t see the Dubs doing, even if they have a few really good forwards who need tight shackling.
In summary, then, when you lift the lid on this classic of all time, there’s plenty of rich picking for us and the more I think about it, the more I fancy our chances on the 22nd. As you should too, hombres – this is undoubtedly the best Mayo team to grace an All-Ireland final since the 1951 variety and there’s no reason now to start doubting their ability to complete the job.
Right, now that I’ve got you all fired up, it’s time for a poll on how you think the final will go. I’ll take a very dim view of anything less than an 86% vote for us (which was the outcome of the polls on both the Donegal and Tyrone matches) in this one.
Will we beat the Dubs?
- Yes (84%, 737 Votes)
- No (16%, 141 Votes)
Total Voters: 878
Now, off with you and get those flags up and get those tickets sorted. And no more cooing about the Dubs either.