Did the best team lose another All-Ireland final?

THE SPORTING DIARY with Sports Ed Peter Campbell

Did the best team lose another All-Ireland final?

Did the best team lose another
All-Ireland final?

It seems a contradiction but I’ve never met as many people after an All-Ireland final saying that the best team lost. Mayo are old hands at it by now.

It was their best ever display in a final, but I’m not so sure about the argument that they were the best team. The team with the best players usually wins and that’s how it turned out on Sunday. When the chips were down Dublin knew how to win the game.

But to lose out again by a single point was like twisting the knife; a five or six point defeat would have been easier to take for Mayo.

Is there a curse? Does bad luck run with this Mayo team? One thing’s for sure, fate is not on their side. They should have been five or six points up at half-time on Sunday, but they only have themselves to blame for that. They will point to a number of refereeing decisions; a couple of penalty decisions which could have gone for them, but then they also pressed the self-destruct button with Donal Vaughan’s red card and Jason Doherty not availing of a great goal chance.

Andy Moran up front and Chris Barrett at centre half-back were magnificent with Moran scoring 0-3 and setting up two clear cut goal chances. Barrett was like a rock, something close to Karl Lacey at his best, but he did blot the copybook with the foul that led to Dean Rock’s winner.

But why was Aidan O’Shea standing by looking on as James McCarthy fielded the kick-out that led to the winning free? O’Shea was a passenger when Mayo needed him most, so much so that McCarthy ended up man of the match.

The margins, as we know, are small between victory and defeat and these sides know each other so well and are versed in all sorts of stunts. The ‘ingenuity’ of trying to use GPS to find Sam didn’t quite work out for Lee Keegan, but our own Eamon McGee saw the funny side in a tweet!

Advantage Rule

One issue from the refereeing side of things which cropped up is something of a bugbear - the advantage rule. And it’s not just Joe McQuillan. How many referees apply the advantage rule, but when the player takes the advantage and is fouled again, does not give the second foul, but takes the ball back for the original infringement? On Sunday Lee Keegan was fouled outside the Dublin 13m line but then taken to ground inside the big rectangle for a clear penalty, but the referee awarded the original free.

This seems to be the way most referees interpret the rule. This week I contacted a referee in Donegal who was adamant that where a second foul occurs from the advantage, the second foul should be awarded. And when you Google the subject, a Referee’s Handbook for GAA referees has the following on the Advantage Rule:

“If, during the advantage period, another foul is committed against the team which received the original advantage, then a free kick/puck will be awarded for the “second” foul if it is considered more advantageous than the original.”

All referees should take a look at this wording!

David who?

While Dublin set another record in bringing Sam Maguire home for a third year in-a-row, another player set Croke Park alight on Sunday. What a talent Kerry have in David Clifford. Scoring 4-4 in an All-Ireland final is some performance, and he has been doing that all year.

In relation to Clifford’s display, I received a lovely letter from Danny Lafferty of Creeslough pointing out the scoring feat of one Brian McLaughlin on the big stage. McLaughlin also hit 4-4 (ironically against Kerry) in the All-Ireland Vocational Schools’ semi-final in 1995 and then went on to fire 1-6 in the final against Leitrim in Croke Park. McLaughlin is still firing goals for St. Michael’s seniors and also for Donegal Masters.

Wonder if David Clifford will still be going when he’s 40?

Also in relation to Clifford, Eamon McGee was also lively on Twitter with another twist of irony!

Coleman a credit to Killybegs

Seamus Coleman brought the crowds out last weekend when he returned home to assist with the fundraising venture for his first club, St. Catherine’s FC. The Blue Haven in Kilcar was packed to capacity, which was no coincidence.

Coleman is now box office and yet he remains one of the most down to earth footballers you will ever meet.

He may not like the analogy but he to soccer what Daniel O’Donnell is to entertainment or Anthony Molloy or Michael Murphy is to Gaelic football. He is a true Donegal legend who carries himself just like the others mentioned, with a pride of place but also a humility that doesn’t always go with the territory.

And speaking of Anthony Molloy, RTE didn’t cover themselves in much glory on Sunday by only showing a glimpse of the Donegal 1992 team who were honoured at the All-Ireland final. There was a time when the Jubilee team were given much more prominence and it is something that should be brought to the attention of those in TV land.