As predicted by many Dublin secured their sixth All-Ireland football title in-a-row. In the week before the game many media outlets built up the game by suggesting that Mayo had a chance, but they needed to play out of their skin and Dublin to put in a poor performance.
Maybe they were building it up so people would have an interest or it just filled up the sports section, but the chances were slim. When was the last time a finalist in an All-Ireland final was 5/1?
Dublin didn’t play out of their skins, in fact at times they looked ordinary. However, in the last 20 minutes their game management and ability to take a score, win a free, slow the game down, commit that foul that stopped Mayo going forward was done with ease. They have become used to winning.
Some of the players involved have not lost a championship match playing for Dublin. This Mayo group of players can only count themselves unlucky to come through at the same time as this Dublin outfit.
While many in the last number of weeks have alluded to the vast amount of money made available to Dublin GAA by Croke Park over the years, the fact that they get to play their championship matches in Croke Park, they have all the facilities at their disposal on their doorstep for their players is a huge advantage. However the one thing that many seem to forget is that this is a talented group of players, who have come through at the same time and have the hunger, commitment and desire to do their best for their county.
All the money and facilities would count for nothing if you haven’t got the talent.
If Mayo were to have a chance they needed to start well; by conceding a goal from the throw-in they were on the back foot straight away. They had two fisted points in the first 10 minutes. If Dublin get those two chances in the first ten minutes they go for goals. They didn’t open up the Dublin defence after those two chances, and in order to beat this Dublin team you have to score goals.
It would be easy to suggest that at times referee David Coldrick from Meath was overly harsh on Mayo when they went in for the tackle; it’s reflected in the tackle count with Dublin getting nearly 30 per cent more frees than Mayo.
In last year’s All-Ireland final Jonny Cooper was yellow carded for the same tackle he committed on Aidan O’Shea, this year a warning. The tackle on Lee Keegan as he bore down on goals, a frontal charge, not even a free. The referee was five yards from the incident, a poor decision especially as Dublin were only two up and that free would have taken it back to one.
Maybe I am just picking but games are won and lost on small margins and this in the eyes of many Mayo people could have been seen as those fine margins. I do think Dublin had always an extra gear to go into if they needed but if Lee Keegan makes that tackle on Dean Rock or Ciaran Kilkenny it’s a free in.
One other point I would make about the game was the incident at half time in the tunnel. It was obvious from the little footage that was shown that Dublin’s Philly McMahon was saying something to the Mayo players, maybe it was about the weather on the west coast, maybe it was something different. However, the Mayo players took offence to whatever was said. It was brushed over as something about nothing. If this incident happened in Clones, Breffni, Omagh or Ballybofey, do you think we might have heard a bit more?
For GAA in Donegal, it has been a real stop-start year, some great moments in the National League and our performance against Tyrone and Armagh gave us real hope for a third Anglo Celt in-a-row, sadly it wasn’t to be. Cavan on the day proved a handful and Donegal by their own high standards were not at their best. For 2021 we have to go at it again, hopefully the players can find that hunger and commitment and learn from the disappointment of the Ulster final defeat.
For many 2020 cannot be gone quick enough, it’s been one of those years we will look back on with very few good memories; the sad passing of so many friends and being unable to honour their memory in the way we have become accustomed to. The consistent lockdowns, the lack of opportunity for our young people to go out and enjoy themselves, the loss of employment for so many, those at this time of the year that were unable to come home and have Christmas with their families and loved ones, not being able to visit your grandparents, the list is endless.
“Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness”
At this time of the year we always reflect on those who are no longer with us, the sadness of their passing but the many smiles and the laughs they brought to us while they were here. May they all be at peace. Let’s hope for a better New Year
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