Colm Cavanagh: Sunday's final showed the that Gaelic football is in good health

Kerry are harder to break down than ever before and resilient in their defence, and for that the applause has to be directed to Paddy Tally Picture: Philip Walsh.
Kerry are harder to break down than ever before and resilient in their defence, and for that the applause has to be directed to Paddy Tally Picture: Philip Walsh.

AND so the Kingdom reign supreme. What a final we were treated to at the weekend - cool heads, sublime skills and some simply incredible performances.

Galway’s Shane Walsh had one of those performances that every sport sperson has dreamed of since they are very little.

Absolutely everything went right for him on the day, his strength, his vision, his accuracy, everything that is, except the result.

Had Galway got the win that Walsh so deserved, he was guaranteed to be Man of the Match.

He is a definite Allstar regardless and will push David Clifford hard for the Player of the Year accolade in my opinion.

David Clifford put on another masterful show for Kerry. His ability in the air and his endurance are something to be admired. His marks came at crucial points in the game for settling Kerry when things weren’t necessarily going their way.

At the beginning of the game, Kerry kicked a slew of wides and seemed to be taking a while to get settled. Up pops Clifford with a wonder catch and a simple mark tapped over the bar to calm things and get them on the scoreboard. He was a certain man of the match when it came to picking from the Kerry panel on the day.

The man in the middle did himself, his club and Tyrone proud on the day.

It was a huge occasion and Sean Hurson was firm but fair, just what was needed for the teams taking part.

He allowed the game to flow and kept things moving along as much as possible. He had a few big calls to make and I believe he got them all correct.

There has been some debate on the free for Kerry towards the end of the game but I agree with Sean’s judgement and in my opinion he was absolutely right in the direction of the free.

I have been known to get in Sean’s ear on a few occasions when he has been refereeing games I’ve been involved in, telling him how I think the game should be managed and how his calls were absolutely wrong at the time so I was delighted to see him taking my advice on board and give a really solid performance on the biggest day of them all!

He is a gentleman and I believe that we will be seeing him involved on the big occasions a lot more in the future, a credit to Tyrone for sure.

Another man Tyrone can be proud of is Paddy Tally.

From his hard work and successes with Tyrone way back in 2003, via a Sigerson Cup and, several other successes, he has played a vital role in the Kerry back room team this year.

Kerry’s defensive set-up was significantly better this year than it has been recently. The commentary on Sunday remarked a few times on Kerry’s tackling and their work ethic.

They are harder to break down than ever before and resilient in their defence, and for that the applause has to be directed to Paddy Tally. He is meticulous in the smaller details and the fine skills of the game and this was evident in the performance on Sunday. Galbally will be a proud club this week and rightly so.

I read Conor McKenna’s tweet after the game and had to smile to myself.

In the year after each of Tyrone’s four All Ireland victories, Jack O’Connor has been in charge of the Kerry men and they have taken control of Sam Maguire each time.

As much as it is a coincidence, it is a notable pattern. Credit must go to Jack O’Connor for stepping in and getting the squad to step up every time.

He commands respect, his knowledge of the game and his ability to lead winning teams is incredible. That said Padraig Joyce has ran up the ladder of success with Galway. He knows what it takes to get to the top.

Galway wouldn’t have been mentioned within the top five or six teams in the country for many years, their neighbours Mayo always taking the limelight from them when it came to the big occasions but they have certainly made a mark for themselves this year and I believe will be there or thereabouts for the next few years.

Galway are a team of young talent, playing with no shackles of expectation and clearly enjoying their football.

They fell short in the last 10-15 minutes on Sunday but I believe Kerry needed the victory on Sunday to stop them being labelled as a ‘nearly’ team.

Munster football is probably the least competitive of the provinces so for them to be resilient and to prove that they can get over the line after several tough encounters this year will prove to the doubters that they can do it on the big day.

The final on Sunday showed that Gaelic Football is in a great place. Games are competitive, the skills on show are incredible and the hard work really does pay off. Those men deserve every bit of credit for providing great entertainment and reminding us just how exciting football can be when it is played freely.

Pat Spillane said an emotional final farewell to The Sunday Game on Sunday, the Kerry victory would have been the icing on the cake for his last day behind the microphone, and no hats had to be eaten in the process – it’s a win win for Pat!