THE SPORTING DIARY: Dublin's big leaders too good for Mayo in All-Ireland final

THE SPORTING DIARY:  Dublin's big  leaders too good for Mayo in All-Ireland final

And so it came to pass. Mayo did what they usually do, but again it was not enough against a Dublin side that looked vulnerable.
But, as I said in this column a few weeks ago, they have four of the best footballers in Ireland at the present time, and those four again delivered. And that is why they are All-Ireland champions for the sixth time.
Con O'Callaghan and James McCarthy were up for the battle from the first whistle while Brian Fenton and Ciaran Kilkenny took control of the game in the second half. The rest of the Dublin cast were strong in their supporting role, but at the end of the day, the big four make the difference every game.
In contrast Mayo didn't have that leadership. Indeed, their best player was probably newcomer Oisin Mullin, who looked the only player who could win his own ball consistently. As well as trying to rally the Mayo forces, he was tasked with looking after Con O'Callaghan, which was an arduous task in its own right.
The other newcomers on the Mayo side struggled in their first big game in Croke Park. Cillian O'Connor did look sharp early on while his younger brother, Diarmuid put in a huge shift trying to stifle Brian Fenton. That worked in the first half, but not in the second.
As for Aidan O'Shea, I'm reminded of what Kerry stars Tomas Ó Sé and Kieran Donaghy have said of him in recent years: "He is no Michael Murphy."
On Saturday evening he was even denied the one big offering he brings to the table, he was beaten for both throw-ins. After that he laboured around midfield and had a reasonable first half but now he doesn't have the pace to play the game that is required to win big matches.
It is tough on Mayo with such a losing sequence in All-Ireland finals. There was a very tough article in the Irish Examiner on the day of the game, an interview with former Dublin All-Ireland winner from the 1970s, Dr David Hickey, which had a headline: ‘I don’t have much time for this Mayo team. They’re a tragic outfit’.
Maybe he is right and they are a tragic outfit, but I felt it was an arrogant outburst from someone in a privileged position. It was the sort of comment you might have expected off a Dublin player at that time, but it is something you would not hear from the present Dublin panel. I wonder do they think that way privately, when they talk about Mayo?
The other big talking point from the final was the number of names in the Dublin backroom team. The number being mentioned was 28, although I don't know if that is confirmed. A few years ago it was 23, but 28 seems a crazy number to add to the player panel. No wonder they need more money than other counties to keep going.
On Saturday night when all the analysis was over on RTÉ, the Team of the Year was selected and there were nine Dublin players selected. Cavan were the other big winners with cousins Thomas and Raymond Galligan selected.
Should Michael Langan have been included? Would you select him ahead of Niall Scully? I certainly would.
But the nature of those teams is that unless you win your provincial title then you are not in the running. Raymond Galligan's heroics against Monaghan and Donegal got him the nod ahead of Stephen Cluxton, who must be one of the unluckiest players in that regard. He goes through the entire championship without conceding a goal and still doesn't make the team.

Minors bow out
Donegal minors came up just short against Tyrone on Sunday in Ballybofey but we got a glimpse of the future with another of Peter Canavan's sons, Ruairi, looking like he has a bright future.
Along with Darragh, who scored the Tyrone goal in Ballybofey a few months ago, it looks as if the future is bright for the Red Hands brigade.

Happy Christmas to everyone and most importantly, stay safe.

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