If it’s ritual self-immolation you’re into, guv’nor, then Yukio Mishima is the chap for you. However, earlier today at Croke Park in what was supposed to be an All-Ireland final, Cork’s footballers ran the controversial (and, needless to say, dead) Japanese author/playwright a close second with a display of suicidal defending that simply beggared belief. They gave away three of the worst goals you’re ever likely to see conceded on Gaelic football’s biggest stage and, in doing so, ensured that Kerry would canter unchallenged to their second All-Ireland in a row and their 35th in all.
But, what of Mayo last year, I hear you howl? Wasn’t that rock bottom in terms of competitiveness in an All-Ireland final? Yes it was but what happened to us last year (and, indeed, in 2004) was what occurs when a middling team that finds itself almost by mistake in a final comes up against the real deal. We had Heaney, they had Donaghy. But at least we didn’t have a goalie that twice came charging out like a madman, neither time coming close to getting the ball and leaving his line undefended. (By the way, where was he for the second – after Donaghy robbed Spillane? Out walking the frigging dog?) We didn’t have to endure the sight of Donaghy lashing the ball into a gaping empty goal (he at least had to beat Clarke to score last year). We were crushed like the innocents to the slaughter that we were, today Cork did all the damage to themselves.
Goals win games, goes the old chestnut. Kerry’s first, from the Carrot-headed Assassin, midway through the first half, made a Kerry victory – with Cork’s forwards visibly labouring every time they managed to get past the halfway line – very likely. Their comical second just after the restart made it a racing certainty that Cork would take a hammering, one every bit as bad as the one we endured twelve months ago. Their third, equally scalding from an ABK point of view, was, well, unnecessary and ever so slightly gratuitous.
Pity the poor Cork supporters – that’s two All-Ireland finals they’ve lost on successive Sundays, following last weekend’s camogie final defeat. (It’s also the second All-Ireland title in a week for the Herrin Chokers, with their minors winning in truly gutsy fashion today in a match where – unlike their U21 hurling counterparts last weekend – they really had to work to dig out the win). But let’s not pity them too much – after all, we’ll be looking to inflict a third weekend of misery on them next weekend when we square up to them in the ladies final.
Pity every other county, such as ourselves, who harbour half-baked notions of All-Ireland success. Kerry have already, in this decade, won as many All-Irelands as they did in the Seventies and, if they win the next two (which they could, the hoors) then the decade will prove as successful as the feted (or should that be fetid?) Eighties. If this happens it would also be another four-in-a-row but, as I’ve already mentioned in a comment in response to the previous post (can’t be arsed to link it, it’s too late in the evening), the really chilling fact is that, but for Tyrone in 2005, Kerry would today have already completed their four-in-a-row.
But also, finally, pity the poor Kerrymen. But for Canavan, Mulligan and the lads two years ago they would now be celebrating a four-in-a-row. That must hurt, right? I mean REALLY hurt. And that’s not all. The poor bastards now have to wait a whole year – yes, twelve long mournful months – before they get the chance to relive the experience next September of rushing out of Croker before the Sam Maguire is presented to them. It must be tough to be a Kerry supporter, even on days like today.