Welcome to the revolution

After the event, we can all, I suppose, claim we saw it coming but we didn’t, you know, which is what makes it all the more thrilling to savour. I recall that I did posit the theory to Mrs WJ yesterday morning that both of the big two could be out before sundown but, deep down, I still felt the old order would be preserved and, of course, I played it safe and went for Kerry and Tyrone in my predictions.

Kerry’s demise was arguably the least surprising of the two earthquakes that erupted yesterday – they were, after all, up against tradition and, Lord knows, they know better than most the value of being able to shake the jerseys at quaking opponents. Once Down hit them with that opening salvo, you could see the psychological impact ricocheting through both sets of players – the Mourne lads perking up in the knowledge that they’d never lost to these guys before and so there was no reason why they should start now while the Kerry lads could see clearly that the same fate that had befallen their feted forefathers would be their lot too.

And so it proved. Jack O’Connor was rather ungracious in his after-match comments, I thought – his players have been throwing balls around the place for years without getting pulled up and, despite Martin Carney’s arguments to the contrary on RTÉ, I though that Joe McQuillan (the bollix) was well within his rights to whistle for the foul pass and disallow that first half Kerry ‘goal’.

The simple fact was that Kerry were beaten out the gate – but for that ludicrously soft penalty at the death (McQuillan’s forte, it would seem), it would, in RTÉ parlance, have ended as ‘a nine-point game’ – and it was Kerry’s indiscipline, both yesterday and throughout the Munster championship, that was closer to the root cause of their troubles yesterday than the ref’s interpretation of the handpass rule.

Whatever it was, the Kerrymen have now got a few truckloads of raw material with which to manufacture the biggest hunger for success the world has even seen so I suppose we can all start preparing now for the backlash in 2011. In the meantime, lads, there’s always the Puck Fair and the Rose of Tralee to enjoy.

My instinctive reaction to Kerry’s defeat (the little lad was utterly stunned, by the way – he’d never seen Kerry lose at HQ before and didn’t realise this could happen) was to utter the hope that the Dubs could do one on Tyrone and blow the whole thing open. Although the sun had come out at Croker by then, it still looked a long-shot and, with their great rivals having just hit the ditch, it seemed all but impossible that Tyrone would pass up on the chance of moving a step closer to what was now looking like a straightforward run to a fourth All-Ireland in just eight years.

But that’s the thing – eight years is quite a while and Tyrone’s game, which yesterday comprised almost solely of teentsy-tiny kickouts and a million handpasses just to get the ball up to midfield, is one that requires a very high workrate. That’s all grand when everyone is in their prime and ready to run their balls off all day but it becomes a bit of a problem when they encounter a team that’s willing to work even harder. Yesterday, Dublin were that team.

Pat Gilroy got precious little credit all year for the way he was attempting to transform Dublin from a bunch of individuals who happen to wear the same jersey (does this sound familiar?) into a committed, hard-working unit and when the wheels came off against Meath, it looked as if the reconstruction project was in tatters. In retrospect, however, that hiding was the best thing that could have happened as it demonstrated that the defensive strategy built up during the league (but then abandoned against Meath) was the correct one and it also freed the Dubs from the suffocating environment of the Leinster championship.

I was in Croker to see them beat Armagh and although they got bugger all kudos for the win afterwards, I was hugely impressed with their second-half display that day. There wasn’t a prima donna in sight and the team worked like crazy for each other to carve out the win. It was the makings of them.

From the off yesterday, they showed the same kind of workrate and although Tyrone’s greater cuteness in the second quarter – where a number of theatrical falls yielded soft frees which were effortlessly converted – hauled them out of the early deficit they had conceded to the high-tempo Dubs, those ageing limbs came out for the second half knowing full well they still had it all to do.

They should, of course, have done it. If that kind of wayward shooting was being done by Mayo lads, we would, you can be sure, have faced the usual post-match hootering about how typical it was of us but Tyrone showed that our lads aren’t the only ones who have trouble locating the posts as they put in a veritable masterclass in that department over the course of the second half.

Better shooting could have seen Dublin overrun. It would surely have seen them lose their shape and forget their game plan. Instead, Tyrone never managed to establish a clear lead and when Dublin eventually lifted the siege they were quickly able to pull level with the winning post now coming into view.

And that was where the age factor really came into play. I texted The Brother at that stage to say that Tyrone didn’t have anyone to play the Brian Dooher role and it was a mystery – as well as a sad little cameo – to see the old warrior still there till the end, a complete passenger for most of the seventy minutes. Meanwhile, Pat Gilroy shuffled his deck carefully and his lads, sensing the turning tide, upped their effort again and kicked for home.

It really was like seeing the tide go out on Tyrone in that epoch-ending final ten minutes as the younger, hungrier Dubs won every loose ball and went for the jugular. There was, of course, an element of good fortune about the decisive goal but teams make their luck and few would argue that the Dubs didn’t deserve their win yesterday. Especially over Tyrone.

Cork’s win today over a game Roscommon today didn’t seem like part of the revolutionary script, even if it did mean that a third provincial champion had just been dumped out. Although they won in the end by a full nine points, it was another disjointed, ragged performance by the Rebels and I’m not sure they deserve their new-found position as 5/4 favourites for Sam.

Cork have plenty of big day experience, for sure, but much of this is of the wrong variety and while their great nemesis no longer features in this year’s championship race, the revolutionistas that have taken the place of the old order are, if anything, even hungrier for success. I have my doubts, despite a panel glittering with talent, about Cork’s ability to live with that kind of raw hunger.

Kildare’s win was a thing of real beauty. I said in advance it had the potential to be the game of the weekend and , despite the previous day’s earthquakes, it lived up to this billing.

Kildare showed real grit to overcome the hammer-blow of Dermot Earley’s loss after just two minutes and they did well to stay in the game during that opening spell when Meath threatened to tear them limb from limb. The two goals came at just the right time for the Lillies, though, especially the second one and they certainly lived up to their billing as a second half team in they way that they defenestrated the hapless Ball Throwers in an increasingly one-sided second 35 minutes.

So it’s the Dubs against Cork and Down v Kildare in the most novel All-Ireland semi-final pairing for a generation. Uniquely, the championship’s penultimate round won’t feature a single provincial champion and while this means that the four survivors have all shown feet of clay at some point this summer, it’s also the case that all four arrive at the business end of the title race with well-honed survival skills. Any one them could win it from here and all four can tonight, with equal justification, dream of doing so. Long live the revolution!

22 thoughts on “Welcome to the revolution

  1. This weekend’s showed up the farce that is the provincial championships. Utterly pointless and are fogotten about as soon as the quarter finals are reached. Why oh why can we not go to a champions league format with the knockout stages starting at the last 16. Everybody plays the same number of games. The current set up is completely daft as shown by this weekend’s results. I was at the connacht final last year but was only mildy happy with the victory, knowing that we were not that good and a connacht title is pretty meaningless to Mayo at this stage.
    My Dublin colleagues just shrugged when beaten by Meath as if they knew the back door was the only way to go.
    Willie Joe why not put a poll on the site to see who would be in favour of abolishing the provincial championships.

  2. Would not agree with you WJ about the Kerry goal- clearly an underhand handpass with open hand- as allowed by rule, despite what McStay had to say on Sunday Game… he’s usually willing to defend GAA and refs for whatever reason. Kerry didn’t look interested or work nearly hard enough and deserved to go out. Down & Kildare were fantastic, hope one of those beat the athletic robots of Dub/Cork.

  3. as i have said before i think the league should be scrapped and the provincials played early in the year. you could then have your championship in any format you liked in the summer, perhaps some kind of champions league thing amongst the best 32 teams leading straight to 1/8 finals..
    everyone gets 6 games at least then, poorer teams could play off to gain entry .

    the provincial format would be saved and teams eliminated early can train for the championship proper.

    personally i would have no seedings for the championship but rather an open draw , if kerry cork tyrone and armagh all ended up in the same group then so be it.

  4. On a slightly different note, well done to the minors…a hard fought game but well won in the end. And for our Ladies….. the Ladies County Board should be kicked out of football for ever; after a very late start and little time, Fr. Michael had them well ready but the lack of games and time together proved fatal today.

    I hope they stay together and come back to play the league and championship together. Fr Michael has a good record with the Claremorris Convent and St Geralds in Castlebar….. not nad for a Galway man!!!!

  5. Safetysam -Id say Fr Michael would be doing well with the ladies in St Geralds !!!

  6. Willie Joe, off topic but can you post this article from the Mayo News on the recent county board meeting. Scary stuff, needless to say if we’re relying on the executive and the club delegates to get us to win Sam, we’re fecked.

    http://www.mayonews.ie/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=10469:nominations-sought-for-mayo-managers-job&catid=14&Itemid=100008

    The review seems to be dead before it begins “bring it back to the clubs” is the same as being told by a customer support center “fill out these forms and post them back, they know it’ll never be heard from again.
    All anyone seems to want is fight. No bother we can send a team out who will box all around them, but the result will be the same as this year- we’ll be out well before the business end of the championship.
    Frightening stuff

  7. east cork exile that article reflects terribly on all involved in the meeting , willie joe if you will excuse the outburst the phrase piss-up and brewery comes to mind, these are the stewards of our hopes.. I would certainly purchase the white jersey though.. they should market it !

  8. I dont agree with our team wearing the white jersey, fine release it as a marketing exercise to raise funds but they shouldnt go on the pitch wearing it. Imagine the fun the likes of Joe Brolly and Pat Spillane would have with it. one of the suggestions was that it was to commemerate the 60th anniversary of our last All Ireland win!!! What planet did that suggestion come from? Its been embarrasing enough the last few years without drawing further attention to our drought.

  9. Lads, we need to get behind our Minors! I have the tickets booked for the 22nd August(interestingly 6 years ago on that date Mayo were playing Fermanagh in the Semi-final). Are any of ye going? Where are ye sitting?

    I’m praying that I’m not going to be sitting beside a load of Dubs, but they have a few nice fans so it mightn’t be all that bad!

  10. We need to make common cause with the Dubs on the 22nd, Esther – Cork are no friends of ours and, from past experience, we can’t expect any support from them for the minors. The only problem with the Jacks is that most of them tend to turn up ten minutes after the senior game starts but hopefully we can get those of them that are there to shout for us.

  11. cant agree with ya east cork exile , i think we should glorify in the fact that we are former winners while making a statement that we want to be so again and why not honour the men of ’50 and ’51 , if white was good enough for them boys then its good enough for me.

    not to mention a few quid generated and a bit of interest from other counties as to why the white is being worn.

    its only an idea i realise and judging by that meeting , not too many good ideas will come to fruition in mayo GAA any time soon…

  12. Our regular busload are heading up for the minor game esther, don’t know where we’re sitting yet. Hope the lads get plenty of support behind them.

  13. Ah Willie Joe you can’t take the Dubs love-in to that level.

    There will be nobody in the stadium for the minor game bar a few early-bird followers of the seniors, and the Mayo and Tyrone supporters. Bar those involved there will only be a half eye on the proceedings.

    Cork are no friends of ours, nor are the Dubs. In fact like all counties we are very much on our own and should just worry about ourselves.

    As for the white jersey – as somebody said what the hell planet are some Mayos on!

  14. That’s great news Mick! We always have great support for our Minors-on a documentary the last day on All-Ireland final day, the amount of Mayo supporters there was amazing, there were nearly as many Mayo supporters as Kerry supporters!

    Willie Joe, I haven’t really made up my mind on who’ll I’ll be supporting for the Seniors but my decision will be based on which county supports us for the Minors-so I’m thinking Dublin!

  15. Had to laugh the last day, some lad up behind the goals on the Hill in a Mayo jersey going bannanas cheering and jumping every time Cork put over a point to put another nail in the Rossie coffin.

  16. saw that east cork exile….the Mayo boy going mad for Cork….he was more excited than the cork supporters! Hilarious

  17. I think it’s a draw that’s at 8/1; we’re on offer at 10/3. That’s the odds on Paddy Power at the moment. Still good odds on a two-horse race, though.

  18. We are in the semi-final on merit.

    Have any of us seen Tyrone play a full game?

    How many of us have even seen our minors – I haven’t.

    No point in knocking ourselves and just listening to the media hype. Cmon lads you can and will do it!

  19. saw the minor highlights on TG4 on monday night – Tyrone scoreline looks impressive but they scored at the end of the day it was 2-11 … Mayo minors scored 1-14 on the same day so put it in perspective. Mayo and Tyrone minors are teams that respect each other and have every reason to. Personally I don’t mind that going into this match we are the underdogs. A goal or two in any match can be decisive but that’s even more so in minor as once a team gets a significant upper hand on the scoreboard in minors it can be hard for the opponents to get back. Lets’ hope it’s Mayo get that goal or two and they can – 1 against Roscommon, 2 against Leitrim, 3 against Galway and 1 against Offaly.
    For the record Tyrone beat Antrim 1-13 to 1-8, beat Down 1-10 to 0-10, Armagh 1-14 to 0-05 and Kerry 2-11 to 0-9. That win against Armagh , who put Cork to the pin of their collar last weekend, looks like the most telling and adding that to a win over Kerry I can see why bookies have them as favourites. But whatever about the odds they will not be looking at Mayo other than 50/50 and vice-versa.

  20. Cork arent very strong in minor though to be fair, but yes I would agree that we are serious underdogs. However in 2008 we played and beat a “serious” Kerry team and should have beaten a serious Tyrone team in that final (Oh God, if that pass had only gone to Aidan O’Shea like it was meant to). We were given feck all chance against Armagh in the final last year and could easily have swung it if a few better choices had been made. So theres plenty of hope. At the end of the day the most important thing is the fact that we’ve been in the last two finals and are in the last 4 again this year – theres a good conveyor belt there, now we just need the people at the top to make the right decisions.

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