GAA Football

The post-mortem is underway on Dublin, Mayo and Joe

GAA Football All -Ireland Senior Championship Final.17/09/2017.Mayo Stephen Rochford Colm Boyle.Pic Philip Walsh.

AND so for the third time, “the greatest team in history” have beaten “the chokers” by a single point. Not much of a margin on the scoreboard but a world of difference in how they’re viewed.

Dublin are All-Ireland champions for the fifth time in seven years and Mayo’s wait clambers on in to year 67, with nobody quite sure how much longer they can A) go on competing or B) bear to keep losing.

One of the best finals in years provided so many talking points, and naturally a one-point game decided by a 75th minute free brought a spotlight upon every decision made by referee Joe McQuillan.

The free itself; the lack of a penalty for Mayo on two separate occasions that they seemed to have a case; the Donal Vaughan red card.

‘Colm from Belfast’ was neither impressed by the official nor The Irish News reporting team’s review of his performance.

“Joe McQuillan’s performance last Sunday was poor and The Irish News didn’t reflect that in their coverage.

"They just ignored it. It was only in Kevin Madden’s column [was that not in The Irish News?] that the facts were laid bare: the fact that he missed a stonewall penalty a referee in an U12 match couldn’t miss, the guy was nearly in the square, being fouled and no penalty given, he gave a 21-yard free in. It was shocking. The other one was the sending-off, it was never a sending-off, there was no strike involved - it was only a yellow card offence. You’d never see anybody sent-off for that in a league game.”

CO’K: The ‘stonewall penalty’ you speak of wasn’t exactly a stonewall penalty. There was minimal contact inside the box. Mayo maybe had a stronger shout when Cluxton climbed over Jason Doherty but even that might have been soft. The red card didn’t look like a red card to me at the time but replays undermine Vaughan’s case. Did you watch it live or have access to replays? And in producing their coverage, our reporters were all hamstrung by having no access to replays as they were all designated seats with no monitors.

‘Dermot from Portadown’ was equally dripping in sympathy for Stephen Rochford’s side (which they don’t want, in case you didn’t hear).

“There has to be a curse on Mayo. Like last year, the best team lost. That’s nine final losses from 1989, mostly by a point or two. Two clear penalties for Mayo denied. First, when Cluxton saved, he pushed the Mayo player in the back inside the square and, second, Lee Keegan was fouled in the box. I also saw instances in Mayo attacks where Mayo players were floored off the ball in third man tackles. The referee bottled it, especially both penalties that weren’t given, yet he gave a free to Rock six minutes into injury-time, where Connolly ran straight into his man.”

CO’K: It was typical that RTÉ usually spend half the game obstructing your view of what’s happening by repeatedly showing replays, and then when it came to that critical free on Sunday, they didn’t show a single one. So I still haven’t seen an angle that's conclusive either way.

On Twitter, ‘Damian’ was succinct in his analysis.

“To win an All-Ireland you need a number of real top quality forwards and Mayo don't have that. When it's come to the crunch that's been their downfall.”

CO’K: They have missed chances at crucial moments in their defeats but any analysis that they don’t have a top quality forward line is wrong. Andy Moran will most likely be Footballer of the Year. Up until the end of July, Cillian O’Connor had scored 29 points more than Bernard Brogan in the All-Ireland series despite having played six fewer games. The 1-16 they scored on Sunday would have won all of the last nine finals (stat courtesy of Kenny Archer). Mayo have forwards.

‘Bear in the Square’ agreed with Kicking Out’s assessment that Mayo are deserving of a tag of greatness just as much as Dublin.

”If Dublin are one of greats its because they flourished from a fierce rivalry with this Mayo team. Not fair to mention one without the other.”

‘Raff’, however, was not.

“Sorry Cahair, but there in lies another example of the overuse of the word great or legend.”

Elsewhere, to revisit a topic from two weeks ago, there was some reaction to the lack of coverage of hurling in Antrim – or Ulster in general – on The Sunday Game.

‘J O'Connell’ laid a poser: “Here's an idea: Start being competitive in the odd hurling game and you might be taken seriously by those awful people in ‘the south’.”


‘J Brannigan’ was of similar mind: “What the hell would they be talking about Antrim or Ulster hurling for? The Ulster hurling championship is hardly talked about in Ulster. Why would the pundits be mentioning Antrim at this time of year anyway? Antrim need to give reason to be talked about.”

CO’K: Team gets success. Team gets talked about. Children get interested. Participation levels go up. More success follows. Unfortunately for Antrim, they cannot get through the first barrier and the lack of promotion of the game isn’t helping them achieve any of the other targets.

‘Noel’ has dug into the archives and dragged out the idea of a Team Ulster once again, as well as a Team Connacht and a Team Leinster made up of the developing counties.

“As a follower of hurling and a former member of Ardoyne GAA, it has been needed in recent years to have an "Ulster" to compete in the All-Ireland hurling series. If it helps maybe in the other provinces, the smaller counties could also join together to make stronger teams competing. Just a thought.”

‘Patrick from Down’, meanwhile, was looking forward to a nice winter of finding out what it’s been like to be a Liverpool fan for the last few years, by spending his days watching Channel 5.

“With the Gaelic season beginning to wind down after the All-Ireland final, I have to say I really love ‘The Championship’ on Channel Five. I never thought I would like Colin Murray doing anything but, I have to say, I really enjoy Colin heading ‘The Championship’ programme. I always look out for Leeds United and, as always, soccer from England is entertainment for Gaels in the winter time. Dare no-one say ‘why do you like soccer?’ It’s great and transfers into every avenue of entertainment in life.”

CO’K: I thought Channel 5 only showed re-runs of Die Hard. Every day’s a schoolday.

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