Another championship season over, the Sam Maguire is back in the Capital once more and the final that everyone wanted to see will go down as the one that everyone, bar the Dubs, will not really remember.
The weather was to blame according to many. These were two traditional footballing sides who wouldn’t rely on any sweeper systems or negative tactics to get over the line. Just shows you what all we experts know.
The game was won or lost on the grounds that the Dubs dealt with the conditions better; they opened Kerry at their ease at times and easily could have had three goals. The idea that you would play Colm Cooper as a sweeper or even as a play maker in your own half of the field would make no sense to me and Jim Gavin probably couldn’t believe his luck when he saw one of the best forwards of his generation employed in his own half of the field.
Along with that Philly McMahon, probably the most underrated defender that Dublin have had in the last few years and who has been tarnished by many because of the way he plays the game, had the freedom to attack the Kerry defence at will. It was certainly a huge mistake by the Kerry management.
Kerry, in their wisdom, might have considered changing their formation to suit the weather conditions.Last Sunday’s game would have been ideal for Kieran Donaghy, especially from the start when players were finding there feet. Coming in late on was not the scenario that works for the big fella especially when you have the likes of Rory O’Carroll marking you.
I suppose it is easy in hindsight but when you play in conditions like that the strength of the player is a huge advantage. The Dublin half-forward line of Flynn, Kilkenny and Connolly while not brilliant controlled the game with their physicality and made the space for the likes of James McCarthy, Jack McCaffrey and Brian Fenton to run into and create the chances for the inside forward line.
Dublin were worth their victory. While they may have had a easy ride in Leinster, the fact that they got a second game against Mayo helped them get to the speed and intensity that they needed too. Kerry had one decent game in Munster, hammered Kildare and were lucky to escape the clutches of a Tyrone side who may well be on their way back but they didn’t look to be anywhere near the level that won them last year’s All-Ireland final against ourselves.
I am not much for Players of the Year or Teams of the Year as all they’re supposed to do is cause argument or debate within the media or maybe a pub or two but not to consider Diarmuid Connolly for either was bit childish. Without doubt he was the most stand-out player up until his dismissal against Mayo and because of the controversy that came out of his appeals he paid the price.
Why do we have an appeals system if it cannot be used and if there is a fault within that system surely we have enough paid administrators within the Association to sort this mess out. I know one thing if club players were getting off with the same frequency as their intercounty counterparts it would be sorted long ago.
There was one point raised by Dublin’s win that I would agree with. Colm O’Rourke suggested that Dublin could dominate football for the next ten years. If you look at the Dublin scenario as a business, they have a huge amount of raw talent at their disposal; they have the financial muscle to attract big sponsors; the amount of clothing alone that they sell must take in a huge amount not only for the gear suppliers but also for the Dublin County Board. As a county they are better equipped to look after their players, managers and coaches than any other county. They have a reputation of looking after there ex-players who do enormous work in promoting and coaching the GAA throughout the city. Wile there might be a bit of an argument that the GAA is not a business, Dublin along with maybe Kerry are capable of harnessing those resources properly.
Of course only time will answer that question but if every other county do not get their act together both Kerry and Dublin will go further ahead in terms of coaching, team preparation, sponsorship, player welfare and having the right people in charge regardless of position. The rest of the GAA world need to take note.
For once this year the referee’s performance did not come in for much debate. In fairness to David Coldrick, considering the conditions and what was at stake, handled the game well; not easy knowing every call you make could change the game for one team were winning or losing is a fine line.
Over the year, however, there has been too many occasions when the performance of the officials was the main topic of conversation and until the GAA at central level decide to take some sort of serious action then we will be back at the same carry on next year. People are paid in every organisation to take responsibility and it’s time they put their heads together along with the officials themselves, team managers, player representatives and county board administrators to collectively come up with a solution to the problems that exist in refereeing the game in this era. Some will argue the black card has worked and maybe to some extent it has but there are to many occasions when there is a lack of consistency. Every year we discuss the same problems. The GAA have always been accused of moving slowly on these matters but they have shown on other fronts that they can move as fast as anyone else. Take the Sky deal for instance or the concerts in Croke Park. If we could only get them to apply that urgency to the other parts of this great Association.