I was in Croke Park earlier on today, mainly because the small lad was keen to go (in his world, going to matches equals going to see his team win) and seeing as Mayo Mick (thanks again, Mick) had given me freebie tickets for today’s Division One and Two finals, it would have been poor form not to have used them. And, sure, the day was nice and sunny too.
As others have already said, Dublin were devastating today. That early Derry goal might have upset other teams but Dublin responded rapidly with a furious flurry of points and such was their dominance for the remainder of the opening quarter that the result was almost beyond doubt even then.
By half-time, it was all over bar the shouting in the 38,000 crowd but what was most impressive about the Dubs was the single-minded way in which they continued to apply the lash in the second half, despite the fact that their second NFL title on the trot was well in the bag by then. And by God did they continue to flail the poor Oakleafers with venom, running up a massive 3-19 scoreline before Cormac Reilly mercifully blew for time just seven seconds after the seventy minutes were up.
All manner of thoughts were running through my head as this rout was in progress. Such as – how the hell did we lose to Derry when they were down to fourteen men? Would we have suffered the same kind of kicking if it were us up against the Dubs? Those kind of thoughts.
At the end of the day, though, none of this really matters. We didn’t manage to beat Derry and hence didn’t get to tangle with the Dubs today. And so there’s little point in our wondering how we might have done today or indeed how we might get on against them in the All-Ireland final.
The simple fact is that any notions of getting to the All-Ireland final are rather distant at this point in time. In fact, the only match we should be focusing on now is the one we’re down to play this day week over in Gaelic Park. On the assumption that this is one we should win with a bit to spare, we can, I guess, also be starting to think at this stage about the Rossies on June 8th, though they too have a hurdle – in the form of Leitrim – to get over first.
We may eventually work our way back to an All-Ireland final this year. And if we do, we may have to lock horns once again with Dublin in a contest where they’d surely be the hottest of favourites. But we’re far from there yet and, despite their scintillating performance today, neither are the Super Dubs. It’s still only the end of April so any conclusions about who will dominate this year when it really matters need to be tempered with this realisation.
Finally, my own day – which had begun with a truly glorious and rather long cycle out into north County Dublin and then on into the Meath countryside and back – didn’t turn out to be a hectic one on the football front, as I got pipped at the post – by a single, rotten, lousy point – in the Allianz prediction league. I went into the final weekend thirty points clear and having played it safe and cast my vote for all four favourites in the four Divisional finals I knew it’d take two of those matches going against the head to beat me.
Cavan yesterday and their neighbours Monaghan provided those upsets, though, and this enabled Kevin McHugh – who’d gone for both Roscommon and Monaghan – to best me at the death and scoop the main prize by the narrowest of narrow margins. The pain of defeat is eased somewhat by the fact that Kevin also hails from Mayo and that Garrymore GAA club will win the nominated club prize. Well done to him on a great win, for club and county.