It hasn’t been on anyone’s radar all year as there has been a different story in Dublin and, let’s face it, that’s where the national media go first to get readership/viewers/listenership.
The national media tell us that Dublin are blessed with what is probably the best football team of all time. Radio and television experts from all parts of the country describe their skills as “sublime”, their talents as “awe-inspiring”, their demeanour as “Corinthian” and their march to Sam 2016 as “unstoppable”.
They tell us that it is truly a wondrous time for Dublin GAA supporters and it is really a shame that the final on Sunday will be a duck shoot when lowly Mayo come to town. After all, Mayo have gone from being a top two team in January to struggling to get into the top 5 or 6 now.
Of course, a lot of that is down to goals, the scribes say. Dublin score goals for fun. Mayo really don’t have the same quality of forwards. And of course, Dublin are without two of the 2015 All-Stars in the backs but still have the strongest defensive unit in the country. Mayo on the other hand, leak goals like a sieve.
Strangely, the pesky facts don’t agree – Dublin have played five championship games this year, during which they have both scored and conceded five goals, whilst Mayo have played seven championship games scoring ten and conceding just three.
But the forwards, I hear them say. They score much more than Mayo and their backs concede less. Hmmm… not totally accurate. The facts show that they do score about two points on average more per game, but their backs concede one point more as well, so the grand canyon-esque gulf in class is not supported by the stats.
But then there is the Dublin 50-minute mark burst that blows teams out of the water. Strangely, the pesky facts tell us that it was at this stage against Laois, Donegal and Kerry that the wheels on the Dublin wagon became decidedly wobbly. But of course, as proper champions, the scribes tell us, they steadied themselves and pushed on. Of course, of course … sublime, awe-inspiring, unstoppable, etc., etc.
But slowly, the storm began to build from the west. The nice guys of Mayo began to win ugly. “No, No!” cried the scribes, “this team is gone. Galway are the new carriers of the flame, or Tipperary, or even Tyrone”.
It started with Fermanagh and the penalty. But for that, the scribes insisted, Fermanagh would surely be in the All-Ireland final. Mayo had no right to do that to them. And there was no credit for beating Kildare either, sure they just never got going. And Westmeath nearly caught us, and we should have lost to Tyrone. And when Galway fell to Tipperary, they had fought bravely and Tipperary had a great chance to beat us – but they didn’t.
And that is the point. We are still there. We are where (pre-Galway) many of us were predicting we would be in September. With one difference however, the Dublin GAA scene think this is already over and the scribes (following the need for readership/listenership/viewers) are feeding the beast.
Sunday will be a parade. Non-football people are coming up to me telling me why Dublin will win. And their “facts” are gleaned from the scribes who themselves are woefully out of date. It is like the shoeshine boys giving investment advice before the Wall Street crash.
I was in Castlebar last Saturday afternoon and the sense of calm was palpable. People were arming themselves with jerseys, flags and all the match paraphernalia. There was no fear about next weekend. It’s like we have used it all up in previous years.
This time, we mean business. This year we have a calm before the storm. And make no mistake, there will be a storm.
But here in Dublin, the sun is still shining and so far nobody seems to have noticed the darkening storm clouds that are approaching from the West.
Keep the Faith!