It has become a rare sight ever since the introduction of the blanket defence or the sweeper system but last weekend we got a glimpse of what an open game of football played by two of the best teams in the country is like.
Both Kerry and Dublin decided to just go at it from the very start and it was certainly one of those games that will not be forgotten in a while.
Dublin will now prepare for a date with Mayo knowing that if they defend in the same manner then they will not get their hands on Sam. It’s fine to be involved in a brilliant game but this game came down to a break of a ball that Dublin midfielder Michael Dara Macauley got his hand to and the ball fell to McManamon who miskicked and instead of the ball going over for a point it dropped just over the Kerry ‘keeper’s head, so the difference in the teams was very little.
When you consider that many of the experts had predicted the decline of this present Kerry side because of the age factor and an inexperienced manager then it shows when you have a couple of exceptional forwards, plus a few very experienced defenders coupled with hungry young players getting their first taste of the championship then anything can happen.
What I found interesting was many of the comments used by many who commented on the game. Some suggested that if Kerry were more cynical then they would have pulled down Mc Manamon before he ever got near the goals but they maintained it wasn’t in their nature.
However, if they had viewed the replay they would have noticed that there were very few Kerry defenders there to even tackle Mc Manamon , so what were they suggesting; that the likes of Kerry and Dublin did not use those kind of tactics.
When Colm Cooper broke free in the last ten minutes and was about to get on a ball that would have put him in on goals he was tripped. It was as blatant as anything that Sean Cavanagh did but not a word or no big speeches from the Sunday Game panel. Why? I’ll leave that for you to decide for yourself.
What I would say in light of watching the game a number of times again this week there were a number of dodgy calls that even the Dublin manager Jim Gavin had a say about the performance of the referee when he was interviewed after the game.
Eamon Fitzmaurice, the Kerry boss, must have wondered how many of the Dublin defenders who were already on yellow cards and had multiple foul counts against them stayed on the pitch for the full 70 minutes. But for Kerry it will be of little comfort that they played in the game of the year when they have to watch Dublin take on Mayo in the final.
Will McGuinness Stay
While we are still waiting to see will Jim McGuinness continue in his role as Donegal manager for 2014, there have been suggestions that there were a number of issues that Jim wanted sorted before he would confirm his continuation in the role.
One of the big talking points has been club fixtures and from what has been circulated or rumoured or even leaked has been the suggestion that the county management wanted the last say on when club games should go ahead and when they should be put on hold as to give the county team the best preparation possible.
I have always said the club fixtures have always been an issue regardless who was manager but I don’t think the clubs would be happy to hand that sort of power to anyone that does not answer directly to the clubs. Also I am not sure Jim would like to be used as a scapegoat for any committee failure to get the full programme of adult fixtures completed and to make sure that the championship was played on time as to give proper time for the county champions to prepare for the Ulster club.
It would be a surprise if Jim staying in the job for another year was totally down to club fixtures.
Would he get the financial support needed for another campaign? Jim has been backed to the last by successive county boards. In fairness they have stopped at nothing to make sure the cash was in place for whatever was needed or asked for but can it continue?
The clubs have been hit with fundraiser after fundraiser; there has been such a drive to raise money for the county team that it has restricted clubs in their own financial activities. Just maybe the purse strings have been tightened and Jim knows well that if you have not got the financial backing to go into a campaign then you are doomed to failure.
Could it be that some of the players have had enough? They have given a huge commitment over the years and winning the All-Ireland in 2012 has lessened their hunger and the prospect of another winter of hard training and giving everything up for another Ulster and All-Ireland campaign might just be a bridge to far.
I hope Jim and the rest of the management team see out their tenure. They have given a huge lift to the county over the last number of years and deserve to go out on a better note than that of a hammering by Mayo in Croker. But if Jim decides to call it a day because of his other commitments then so be it but he will go with the gratitude and thanks from the people of Donegal and beyond.