The Kingdom arises

I went along to Croke Park this afternoon with no great expectation about seeing an upset in the big one. It was, to be honest, more of a scouting expedition – seeing as three of the counties in action were ones we’ll need to be beating in the summer if we’re to reach the summit (with the fourth a possible opponent in the qualifiers should we again bomb on the way like we did last year) – but it turned out to be a highly entertaining day’s action so it was well worth the visit.

Kerry are back. A strange proposition, I know, but having suffered so much at Dublin’s hands in recent years – today’s win for them was their first over Dublin at HQ under Jim Gavin, their most recent Croke Park win before today over the city slickers being the day of the startled earwigs way back in 2009 – there was a strong sense of redemption and renewal in the air as Croke Park emptied rapidly after the final whistle sounded. As it did, Kerry emerged as winners of today’s highly entertaining NFL Division One final on a scoreline of 0-20 to 1-16.

They may have only squeezed home by the narrowest of margins but Kerry were nonetheless worthy winners today. They played a cagey and clever game, keeping pace efficiently with the four-in-a-row League champions up to the break and then pushing on impressively to take the game to them in the second half.

Dublin briefly went three points clear in the second quarter, threatening to get a run on the Kingdom at that stage. Diarmuid Connolly’s black card seemed to unnerve them a bit, though, and despite missing a goal chance – which would have levelled the game, but Stephen Cluxton was equal to David Moran’s shot – Kerry upped their intensity sufficiently to pare the gap to just one point at the break.

According to Mrs WJ, Connolly’s black card resulted in plenty of caterwauling amongst the studio guests on RTÉ radio at half-time. I was behind the goal in the Davin Stand (thanks by the way, to Ann-Marie for the tickets) so I didn’t get a good view of the incident but when ref Paddy Neilan conferred with his linesman, the latter gave a clear jersey-pull-down signal and off went the Vinnies’ man.

The first black card, a drag down by Jonathan Lyne on Connolly, was a text-book black card offence. But then so too was a body check by Brian Fenton – if you’re not convinced, look at it here – in plain view of the ref. Fenton saw yellow for this but the ref bottled what was a black card infraction all day long.

Kerry’s strong running and neat point-taking after the break saw them surge five points clear. Dublin were now quite obviously rattled – Kerry kept them scoreline for nineteen minutes after the restart – and they should have been reduced to fourteen men when Philly McMahon landed a sly punch on, I think, Paul Geaney as the Dingle man was falling under a hefty challenge. I guess the ref didn’t see it but it was helpfully shown twice again on the big screen in the immediate aftermath. Not for the first time, McMahon somehow managed to avoid the line for what was a clear-cut red card offence.

Dublin still had the cavalry to come to pull this one from the fire but, for once, Jim Gavin’s mixing and shifting didn’t work. Ciaran Kilkenny – eschewing his by now normal role of essaying robotic five-yard hand-passes around the middle of the park – was doing well in attack, and had scored two high quality points, but Gavin switched him to half-back when Kevin McMananamon came on, Cian O’Sullivan strangely giving way.

There were other oddities in Gavin’s selection. Jack McCaffrey didn’t make the match-day 26. Niall Scully – Dublin’s most exciting find this spring – started on the bench. Is Jonny Cooper injured? And where the hell has Cormac Costello disappeared to?

Set against that, Niall Reddin did well in midfield, kicking two glorious points into the Davin end. So too did Paul Mannion, a player who blows cold as regularly as he does hot but whose goal – eight steps taken before the shot, by the way – dragged Dublin back into it.

It also awoke their soporific support, which up ’till then hadn’t given Dublin the kind of home advantage they should have enjoyed, given that at least two-thirds of the crowd of just under 54,000 were attired in blue. Sure, they booed every time a refereeing decision went against them and whistled in their usual unsporting way whenever a Kerry player was lining up a free but they never really got behind their team, especially in that period after half-time when Kerry had them under the hammer.

They went ape-shit, of course, when Mannion slipped the ball to the net and it looked then like the house party was about to get going. Before anyone had the chance to get Lionel Richie’s All Night Long on the turntable, however, Kerry steadied the ship and stretched the lead back out to three. Back into their sated selves went the Dublin support.

In the end, we did get a thrilling denouement. Dublin cut the gap back to one and then in the dying seconds Anthony Maher grabbed a large fistful of Mick Fitzsimons’ jersey, despairingly hauling the Cuala man to the carpet. Off went the Duagh substitute (who wasn’t on the field all that long) on black and you’d have bet your house on Dean Rock landing the free, which was dead in front of the posts, albeit a full fifty yards from the sticks. Rock had the distance but his effort came back off the post and Kerry were the winners.

So, it’s the first League campaign under Jim Gavin that Dublin haven’t won. It’s also the first game Brian Fenton has ever played in for the Jacks in which he’s ended up on the losing side. 37 games and finally out. Meanwhile, Kerry – who themselves were denied a much more significant five-in-a-row when they were kings of all they surveyed a generation ago – have denied their great rivals the same pleasure in the League. And, of course, we’re still the League specialists, our 80-year-old record of six NFL titles on the trot once more no longer under threat.

Two further points of note from today’s result. The first is that Kerry’s win today subtly alters the narrative as we head into summer. Kerry were, I know, already second-favourites for Sam before today’s decider but this result will, for sure, embolden them as they begin to plot for the championship. Last year’s they fielded a team with too many old legs in starting positions (coming up narrowly short last August) but Fitz seems to have hit on a better balance this year. With the likes of Enright and O’Donoghue to come back, it’s stronger they’ll get on harder ground over the coming months.

Second, it’s time for three cheers for the League itself. The spring competition has been growing in lustre in recent years and this year’s League action has been particularly good. Week after week of hard, competitive matches between teams of roughly equal quality, capped off today by a cracking final – who’d have thunk that could be an attractive proposition?

Between May and August, by comparison, we’re going to get a series of mismatches – if Kildare truly are Leinster’s second-best team, then on today’s showing there’s no point at all in running that provincial competition this year – as the slow, constipated crawl towards the All-Ireland series drags on and on. The case for regime change in the championship now looks overwhelming.

A quick word before ending about Galway. It was half-time in the Division Two final before I got to Croke Park today but, by the sounds of it, I didn’t miss much. Kildare looked to be on their way to victory as they opened a three-point gap on the Tribesmen in the second half but Kevin Walsh’s charges finished strongly to win by two.

What was striking was the gulf in quality between the curtain-raiser and the main event. There was precious little intensity in the Galway/Kildare game, both sides largely going through the motions for most of the seventy minutes, and one could only imagine what would have befallen these two had the card instead read Galway v Kerry and Kildare v Dublin.

Mind you, Galway’s final flourish was a decent one – Michael Daly’s two late points were particularly eye-catching – and it’s clear that under Kevin Walsh they are an improving team. They celebrated the win today – their first on hallowed ground since their All-Ireland success of 2001 – with considerable gaiety but, for sure, they’ll now be looking to build on this by giving us (assuming we account for Sligo or New York first) grief at Salthill in June.

That likely clash could, indeed, be one of the few footballing highlights between now and the August Bank Holiday weekend. Such is the mad, mad world of GAA fixture scheduling and competition structure. But things can and do change … as Dublin found out at Croke Park today.

Audio report from Croke Park:

89 thoughts on “The Kingdom arises

  1. Great game with Kerry deserving winners for sure. Don’t think the summer narrative changed that much. Dublin played poorly and missing Cooper(huge loss) Mc caffery, small and Conolly for most of the game. Think the Dubs will be quietly relieved winning streak is over and they can move on. Hope Kerry have not just poked the bear!!! Philly should have walked but Dubs not given a penalty which I thought they should have.

  2. Well done Kerry…..good football and stuck at it. Well done too the ref who seemed not a bit phased in the circumstances. It was a treat at times not to be annoyed by silly use of whistle.
    Congrats as well to our neighbours…but they will have a tough time in div1. However that’s just what they’ll need to go on.

  3. If Mayo Manager could have stood up for Leroy the way Fitzmaurice took on the Dublin media, we could have had the same result in the replay.

  4. Our 5 in a row still stands. Class is permanent and all that. Good to see Enda on hand to remind of those legends (Henry Kenny included) of the 30s.

  5. Did you see much off the ball carry on WJ? Looked like there was a lot of Kerry players being blocked from making runs, being pulled/tripped off the ball.

  6. How often have we heard it said, that forwards win matches ? Well today Kerry proved how true this saying is, because they took Paul Curran’s advice from his article of last week and decided to run at the Dublin defence and they didn’t like it one bit. Coupled with a strangle hold at midfield for most of the second half, Kerry could have been out of sight long before that missed free at the end.

    Kerry deserved this win for sure and in so doing, showed that maybe some of the chosen ones might be finally running out of legs. Not saying that it’s the end of this mighty Dublin team but it could signal the beginning of the end, however long that might be. Hope now that if there is a changing of the guard the we through poor forward play don’t miss out on the big prize.

  7. It’s 6 in a row catcol. But that’s a totally bygone era. Three certainties in life, death, taxes and Kerry winning All Irelands. And with the array of underage footballers coming through, the Dublin dominance might end earlier than imagined.

  8. Massive gulf in quality between the two games. Kildare almost looked uninterested. Bradshaw made the difference when he came on. Galway very ponderous at times going forward and I cannot see them beating us this year if we come into the game in the same manner as the end of our league. That’s a few streaks ended today, Galway’s and Dublin’s. Kerry were impressive. Kept in touch in the first half and did not let Dublin build up a lead and momentum. Moran was a collossus for them. I saw Donaghy ready to come on at the end. Fitzmaurice expecting to have to use him to rescue the game perhaps? Happy to see Kerry win but somewhat deflated in that it would have been difficult to see us put over the same amount of scores. They have a team of finishers, will we be able to say the same come the business end?

  9. Fully deserved win for Kerry and now having drawn and won their last two matches against Dublin will feel that monkey is of their back. The game today was played in full championship mood. At the same time the defeat could do Dublin a lot of good. No longer been on the unbeaten run will help them Assuming ourselves and Kerry stay on the other half of the draw there is nothing out there to stop them reaching the final.
    By the way what does Philly McMahon have to do to be sent of.

  10. Well done Kerry. Watching two proper winners going for it is a real pleasure. It seemed that Kerry felt they needed the silverware more.

  11. Dublin a bit weak down the middle? Cian O’Sullivan can’t cope when he has to mark someone and gets dragged all over the place.

    Fenton got a masterclass in midfielding from David Moran and Jack Barry was a great sidekick.

    Brogan utterly anonymous. Cannot be a guaranteed starter anymore. On that point, what about Connolly? Consistently serious discipline issues for a man of his experience. Dublin management have often tried to gloss over it, but he’s a black/red card waiting to happen in almost every game now. Liability.

    Would have loved to see Mayo topple Dublin, yet this defeat gives some food for thought going into the summer. Mannion is a great forward option for Dublin, but what about their other forwards? And what about the softness through the middle? Fenton can be curtailed too.

    However, one would have to imagine that Dublin will learn a great deal from this and work on the problems. Perhaps losing now is good for their longterm chances in the All-Ireland.

  12. Philly Mc Mahon, Diarmuid Connolly and John Mc Carthy could have got red cards. McMahon is a very dangerous player. Tackles with closed fists. Add in Cooper to the mix and they are a brutally tough team. We did well to match them physically, if only we had one extra sharpshooter in the forwards we’d beat them.

    The first match lacked any intensity. It was so slow compared to the speed of Kerry/Dublin. It was like watching the minors before the senior match.

  13. Neither of today’s games ended with the results that I was hoping for. Galway will take huge confidence from today’s victory going in to the game in Pearse Stadium in June. Dublin get a kick in the arse to shake off any hint of complacency that may have been beginning to brew and Kerry get the swagger back as the summer approaches. Serious preparation required over the next 6 weeks in training to iron out our problems in both defense and attack. Lets just hope we’ll be still in the hunt come August.

  14. Reading the RTE website it struck me how Kerry aftermatch comments were referring to Sept next as if there were no matches in the meantime. Hopefully their thinking will continue in that vein and that we give them a reminder in August.

  15. Perhaps a referee on the Sunday game panel might help highlight some of the anomalies we see week in week out. The existing panel have, at best, a passing knowledge of the rules.

  16. 1. With three draws in the league this year and two replays against us in consecutive years the top contenders are gaining ground on Dublin but they’re still the best out there.
    2.There was a lot of blocking runs by both teams today but also Kerry’s tackling was a lot better giving away less frees.
    3. There was a hell of a lot of space out there today for both teams to run into before they were met in the oppositions third.
    4. McMahon has always been a dirty player but he’s controlled. McCarthy and Connolly are a lot easier to wind up.
    5. Mannion today and Costello in October are very very good forwards. I think Andrews and Brogan can be controlled better by markers such as Harrison and Fitzgerald for example.
    6. Kerry seem to have Fenton’s number. Either David Moran is a better player or they are unafraid to contest in the middle. If we can do the same we can avoid our short kick out problem.
    7. The Dubs nearly pulled it off in the last few minutes so fair play to their attitude but Kerry also missed some simple wides.

  17. I agree with all comments re gap between quality in the two divisions. Only saving grace for galway was the substitutions worked well. Bit of strenth in depth. Also interesting to compare Day v Boland. Fergal will be a big player in future, but Day is a confident player with match winner capabilities. Thankfully we stayed up in the league so that our new lads will get experience at top level next season

  18. Also, is it just me or did Fitzmaurice’s comments have some effect today?
    As fantastic as the Dublin team are, maybe some of the media will pick up on their dark arts more if they weren’t so worried about being denied access to the Dublin set up and weren’t so fawning in their blinkered coverage

  19. Who is Ciaran Costello? Would think for all the wrong reasons we would know who won Dublin the AI last year

  20. I don’t think we’d have the same fire power up front to do what the Kerry forwards did today on the same amount of position. We’d need scores from our half line. I do think that we can dominate at midfield in most games if we can move aido back to midfield. Mannion is class act, brogans best days are behind him.

  21. Until today I would have been confident of beating Kerry in a semi but not near as much now. It’s far from a full on renaissance yet but it looks like the retirements have done them a huge favour as they’re no longer playing older fellas. Their legs went badly in the league final and AISF last year but it was far from the case today. JOD to come back and donaghy still lurking around.

    I thought Dublin were very much for the taking last year and they took a significant step backwards from 2013-2015 period (one off Donegal smash and grab in 14 notwithstanding). Again today they looked a little easily rattled and they don’t seem to know their best side. I still think they’ll win the AI though and this might give them a kick up the backside

    Good win for galway who are no doubt improving but still are very limited and are atrociously open defensively.

  22. I noticed that the umpires flags at Dublins goal in the first half were placed at the rear of the goal which seemed to facilitate Clixtons quick kick outs.
    The goal flag at the Kerry goal was also towards the rear of the goal but the white flag was near the front of the goal.
    Cluxton got booked at the start of the second half. Did he try and pressure the umpire into moving his flag further back and became upset when he wouldnt move it?
    Inches people its all about inches. Will be keeping an eye on the position of these flags for the next couple of Dublin games.
    Delighted Dublin were beaten but never delighted to see a Kerry win.

  23. Brogan is still a very dangerous impact sub though

    That said small margins. Connolly was really rallying until he went off, of course it’s all hypothetical but they would have had a far stronger chance had he stayed on

    Cormac Costello must be injured..

  24. It was a fantastic game. today, for the most part played in a very good spirit. At least that’s what saw on the Telly. No doubt, Kerry deserved winners, you have to appreciate the high quality of the football played by both team’s..really provided great entertainment, and their was the drama of such a close match, could hardly be much closer.. . A bit of a bugbear with me. You know the blatant ‘Black Card’ offences,ala Anthony Maher last ditch deliberately pulled down Fitzsimmons, would sporting justice not be served better if in addition to the ‘Black Card’ a 21 meter free was to be awarded to the Team fouled?.. No quibbles, Kerry deserved their victory, but the very late ‘Black Card’ for Kerry, rewarded the offender rather than the offended… The Ref done a great job I taught today, missed a few things, definitely, what I could see on the TV’s replay…A possible Penalty for the Dubs (not a cast iorn penalty).. James McCarty had a sneaky punch on Donnagh Walsh, unpunished! , and Philly the Saint of Ballymun, escaped scantion for dangerous play.. Yet again! . You can see theese things in the Replay slow motion, but it’s not possible to see everything on a pitch that big in real time… We just have to appreciate the match for what it was,. No point in thinking past our first outing on the 21st of May.. We finished on 8 point’s in the league, same as Kerry, but I don’t seriously think that we could challenge either , Kerry or Dublin in a league final in Croke Park at this stage of the year.. Same as last year, we are planning to be at our best come August and September. One step at a time, now, next match is always the most important one. Let the media, rave about Kerry, Dublin and after today Galway… I have no doubt but that Galway under Kevin Walsh are now planning to end another hoodoo, after ending their loosing Croke Park hoodoo of 16 years today, that of Mayo winning in Salthill, since 2009…. Let them plan away , let us plan for Sligo or New York,. If we get over that fixture, let’s plan for Galway but not before!

  25. Great game of football. Thoroughly enjoyed it from beginning to end. Finally the unbeatable are beaten but I wish it was by any other county (preferably Mayo) other than Kerry!!!! Reading various social media sites yesterday its clear the win has gone to Kerry’s heads as lots of mention of them beating Dublin now in the All Ireland final and winning back Sam. They definitely were the hungrier team and very impressive but their arrogance is unbearable!! I suppose in one way it might be a good thing they’ve written us off……….How do we compare that game though to Mayo’s league game against Dublin?

  26. Thought Kerry showed what a challenge Mayo have again this year. They scored 14 points from play from a good spread of players. Their forward division really went straight at the Dublin defence yesterday. Mayo will have need of such fire power at some stage this summer.

  27. That was a wonderful account of what went down on the big pitch yesterday WJ, you’re the man! It’s startling indeed that we won’t see a game like that again till way into the summer and that’s even more pertinent since here we are actually saying it here and now. But sure such is life.
    100% refereeing is impossible in today’s game given the cloudiness of the rules governing the play. If it’s to be left as it is then vid evidence ought to be made available to the refs. Is it not the sensible way to go or have I missed something? That would knock out the shit in no time and also would add great extra entertainment as well.The problem area is the definition of what is a tackle…on paper it’s one thing but in actual fact refs will accept a myriad of offerings and that’s where many of the other indisciplines find their sustenance.
    Most of us had the Dubs tipped yesterday but in a strange way it seems we are celebrating the return of normality with the downing of this great team…for now! Is it a new dawn or just a weak passing front overhead? Was Gavin tardy with his changes? Where was Caffrey and the backup team? How injured are the Dubs going on?Anyways here’s to whatever is thrown up as the summer’s blooms doff their hats to the month of September.
    The usual number of teams have the players to win the AI….it’s a matter of having them right on the days. We are content to know that we’re included in that bunch! Roll on the c’ship!

  28. Good win for kerry. Well done to them. From our perspective the worrying thing is the ability of the kerry forwards to kick such great points from play. We simply cant match that. We are so reliant on our backs hitting a number of scores for us and in fairness they have been doing it over the last 6 years, so its crucial that Keegan, Durcan, Higgins etc are encouraged to drive forward. K Mc needs to be restored to sweeper to offer these guys more protection. Could not understand how Brogan left on so long yesterday, he contributed nothing but I suppose Gavin is entitled to the odd error. Thought Galway did well yesterday. They are on the up and they too have very dangerous forwards, including Daly who kicked two good points. Should we beat Sligo we will certainly have our hands full in Salthill. Interesting summer in prospect but WJ is right. It was a great competitive league in all divisions but now we will see lots of mismatches in the championship.

  29. That’s what happens when ALL the 50:50 decisions do not go Dublins way and when the game is reffed competently. Not perfectly but competently.
    For all the Dublin whinging about a missed peno for them (I’d blame the umpire more so than the ref as it happened right in front of him and he should have called it) there was Philly’s foot-block at the other end which should have seen him walk. Not to mention his closed fist “tackle” on a falling player (hard for the ref to see). McCarthy should have received a carta dearg for his cowardly belt into Walshs’ stomach (again unseen by the ref) and yesterdays game goes to prove what I have felt for along time. Dublin are not unbeatable. No team is. You just have to get your own game perfectly executed and hope the ref is NOT Deegan/Reilly/Coldrick/McQuillan who have consistently proven themselves to be in awe of the Dubs and have NEVER given the 50:50 calls against the Dubs.
    In the bigger scheme of things the Dubs won’t be heartbroken. The unbeaten record (League and Championship ONLY, not all competitive games as the O’Byrne Cup counts as a competitive competition and Longford DO EXIST. RTE Radio 1 incorrectly reporting again this morning!) is theirs and is now gone so any pressure that may have added is gone. They have blooded a number of players that seem to have slipped into their “process” seamlessly and will still be the team to beat come the Summer. However, the gap is closing as 3 league draws this year and 2 championship draws in the last two years have proven that other teams are getting closer.
    Another point proven yesterday was my long held belief that the self-proclaimed “best supporters in the country” only sing when they are winning. Not a chirp out of them when they were 4 and 5 points down!
    No team is unbeatable.

  30. What does yesterday mean for Mayo 2017. Well kinda like last year when we needed the back door it’s set up nicely this time if we can avoid defeat to Galway no offence to Sligo /NY but we’ll be red hot favourites for that one.
    The reason is would prefer to meet a super cocky Kerry in a semi than be favourites as in 2014. The pain of 2014 would motivate our lads massively. The 2nd thing is any team that beats Kerry will need a midfielder to play even close to the standard of David Moran. Was out on his feet and about to be subbed by Donaghy when he kicked a point staggering under strong pressure. Tom P is capable of very big performances and both SOS and big Barry had early season injuries in 2014.
    So if we beat Galway will be fairly strong favourites to beat Ros (long grass accepted) and then a very tricky QF against an Ulster team is a strong possibility. Somehow survive that and redemption vs Kerry is on the cards. Kerry’s underage conveyor won’t be lost on Mayo who will know how important it is to stop them this year.
    On the other side Dublin could eventually suffocate to the Ulster blanket especially if any injuries opening up the final.

  31. Yesterday will have “put things right” in the minds of some Kerry folk, I’m sure. They will be feeling confident about capitalizing on this in the summer. I still don’t think Dublin will be going anywhere though. Their scraping through matches they should have lost in the league was simply papering over the cracks. Losing yesterday will be a wake up call for the Dublin management and certain players and I think they’ll be happier to get this wake up call now rather than in August or September. For once, I think Gavin got it wrong. He doesn’t know what his best 15 is. Why mannion was warming the bench and Brogan was left on the field is a mystery, and Fenton can’t hold midfield on his own.

  32. Jesus lads but could you imagine Mayo celebrating a Division 2 win and going around saying our Croke Park hoodoo is over. Well done to Galway yesterday and they have some very good forwards but hold the phone just yet….they will be very confident IF we get to play them this summer.

  33. Dublin are at 6/4 (were 5/4) in the betting for the All-Ireland following yesterday’s result, Kerry are into 11/4 (were 7/2) and we’re out to 5/1 (were 9/2). Tyrone 8/1 and hoodoo-busting Galway at 20/1 along with Donegal.

  34. I’d say “Dublin Joe” and Deegan will be back in action from the Leinster final onwards in a bid to secure the 3 in a row. They wont risk a referee from somewhere neutral like Rosgommon again in case they end up on a level playing field. I see that “Saint Philly” got away with another one yesterday too. Pity really. That was probably the only occasion when there was a chance of seeing him walk.

  35. Pace, pace and more pace aswell as lads having the ability to kick the ball accurately on the run over the bar is whats required of us to beat Kerry or Dublin .

    Pace in the middle/ forward section isnt something we are blessed with so we are going to have to get creative to dine at top table this year.

    We are going to have to release Higgins and Keegan further forward whilst use Tom P wisely to replicate the effects of a Moran or Fenton .
    Diarmuid OCconor will have extra pressure on him aswell but hopefully he can be used even further forward than he was last year.

    Fact of matter is we are experienced, dogged determined team having being there before and should be hungry but things have just stepped up a notch .
    We need our best players fit, firing on all cylinders and a game plan to utilize their best skillsets in any position .

    We will be discarded from the reckoning now but no harm lads work best with backs to the wall .

  36. That was a thoroughly enjoyable game yesterday and it was almost refreshing in a way to be nowhere near it and to just be able to enjoy it, though I did find it rather disconcerting to be willing Kerry on! Dublin to their credit didn’t give up, and I would have put the house on Rock scoring that free. It was interesting to see just how well Kerry fared by pushing up and by just running at the Dublin defence and how Cian O’Sullivan struggled when put under real pressure. David Moran was sublime; he is an incredible talent. Jack Barry is also showing serious promise.

    I thought the refereeing was pretty decent all things considered, though how Philly McMahon gets away with it every single time I will never know. He is fast replacing Aidan O’Mahony as the most under-carded player in GAA. No doubt the Dubs won’t like hearing this but once again Connolly embarrassed himself – and let his team down with his lack of discipline – he is now nothing short of a liability.

    Yesterday will however probably benefit Dublin more in the long-term, unless it dents their confidence, which I feel is unlikely. Whether or not it embolden’s Kerry come Championship is another story. And of course, it deflects the limelight away from ourselves, which is no harm either.

  37. Great game of ball to finish off a very good League competition this year. Kerry have shown us(and other teams) how to beat the Dubs. We need super fitness,relentless driving forward with 2 or 3 runners off the shoulder taking up good positions, less of the lateral passing back and over – – get that ball forward before they have time to re-organise their defence.If we have to foul – then we need to do it outside of Dean Rock’s range. We need to play with a “controlled ferocity” – – hit them hard and make sure they “stay hit” – – – close to the edge at all times. We need one of the O’Sheas to “soften up” Fenton, we need a “good counter-puncher” on Philly and we need Connolly to get a black card early on(he was a big loss yesterday) – – – and finally we need a Ref from our own province to keep an “unbiased view” of the proceedings – – – lets have that good auld Rossie Ref that was in charge yesterday. Ya I think – – that’s all we need – – simple enough really . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . then we’ll worry about Kerry!!

  38. Good stuff there Pebbles. I thought Neilan did a very good job for a relative newbie in a big game. With any other ref Dublin would have at least drawn that game. You can see it in the body language of the players and management: this cannot be ref, we are Dublin, we are champions, we don’t do defeats, and so on.

    On another issue could someone enlighten me on this? I noted Cluxton had 3 balls on either side of the posts at all times yesterday and when he kicked one, a body (Dub?) replaced it immediately. Yet in Omagh, Clarkey sometimes had a ball, often didn’t and had to scurry round the back of the net to get one, thus losing valuable kick-out time

  39. Well done to kerry. At last the millionaires came out the wrong side of a 1 point game and I hope the losers yesterday make it to the final in September where someone can give them another lesson.

  40. Catcol, one of the things I noticed in Omagh a few weeks back was the “appearance” of another ball on the field when Clarke was trying to take a quick kickout.
    Funny that i noticed the same on a few occasions in the drawn Final last year, and only when it was a Mayo kickout.

    Imagine if another team were to adopt this sort of tactic against the Dubs, the media would go into overdrive about how a new card should be invented for that sort of thing.

  41. With respect lads, but I don’t think ye are in any position to make smart comments on a hoodoo, busted or otherwise. Galway are improving, current minor, u-21, club and senior connacht champions so progress is being made. I accept it was only division 2 yesterday but a win at croke park in any form was welcome. Funny enough Mayo need the other counties in Connacht competing at a high level.

  42. Yes FDB we haven’t upped our game in this department. The Dubs have every dark art in their armoury and their backroom people are all over the place on match days. In the Donegal quarter final last year, one of them (this is true), was inciting the Hill to boo Murphy when he took frees – not that they needed much encouragement. In the Mayo league match this year, a pal told me the backroom were indicating to Rock, exactly when to hit the free – maximising Dublin’s time on/with the ball. Multiply that up and you have a few valuable minutes gained in a big match.

  43. I for one was hoping for a Dublin win. That record must have been like a noose around their necks. I would much rather they had that added pressure going into the championship. Also…if things pan out the way we think they should we have to play Kerry! On the evidence yesterday they would comfortably beat us. I think aside from McMahon being his usual self & deserving to be off that Dublin didn’t get any luck yesterday. Rock should have gotten a penalty. Hopefully that will continue. The irony is that if the Dubs didn’t get that goal in the last minute v monaghan Kerry wouldn’t be in the final!

  44. One thing that strikes me is how ordinary Kerry seem to make Cluxton look, yet against us he is almost unflappable. Moran was a collusus in midfield, back to his 2014 self judging on yesterday. Paul Geaney is a class act, a forward of the highest calibre. Fenton was well marshaled, kudos to Kerry for that. Kerry scored 20 points, which is about the minimum score you need to beat the dubs. (A collusal effort).

    While I am more hopeful of beating Dublin if we were to meet later in the year, Kerry are a notch above where I thought they were. All hypothetical of course, but let’s hope we’re there to take them on.

  45. Big Mike – It was one person who mentioned Galway celebrating (me) – All I was doing is making a point at the jibes that would be thrown our way if we won a division 2 title.

  46. @Mayo Focus thought Cluxton was the Dubs best player, made 2 great saves. There were getting cleaned in midfield and Kerry pushed up on his kickouts. I don’t know what u expected him to do. Still he found his player most of the time.

  47. Cluxton’s kickouts – and his shot-stopping – were excellent all day yesterday, even when Kerry went full court press after the break. Kealy’s weren’t anywhere near as good, though Moran gave him a great outlet in the middle, even if Dublin did all they could to break the ball that was landing in on top of him. Interesting that Dublin’s late comeback was greatly helped by their winning possession from Kerry’s kickouts (shades of the drawn All-Ireland last year). Mannion’s final point came straight from Kealy’s kickout and Maher was forced to drag down Fitzsimons because Dublin won the next one after that score too.

  48. That is a fair observation Wj, kerry will have to work on kickout strategy for championship. One to keep ane eye on. What amazed me most is how quickly young guns of Kerry have matured. Nice blend of youth and experience. Same canbe said of ourselves but our young lads have been given little game time. Our strength seems to be our half back going forward. Oh for a ciaran mcdonald at this point.
    I liked the way the Galway subs impacted on game when introduced, but its one game at a time for us. I agree also with ‘to win just once’, challenging but interesting times ahead

  49. Slow down lads. Ye are all getting carried away in the spring time as usual. It’s the first week in April OMG. Footballing has not started yet. Great report WJ. I was tempted to go but other stuff got in the way. Some posters are surprised with Kerry progress, why?. We’re they supposed to go downhill or something. The change in the league’s format had a bearing on the result yesterday. The Dubs made 4 conservative finals by being in the top 4 for round 7 This year they were all over the shop in their timings. The ref was from Roscommon and Connolly missed most of the game. He is a bit like Murphy missing for Donegal. That kind of impact IMO. Ref had a big impact and will spend a bit longer in the B na O ranks.

  50. Great game yesterday congrats to Kerry the two best teams in the Country at the moment….At best we are in a chasing pack along with Donegal Tyrone Monaghan and Galway….We now need to forget about Dublin Kerry and Croke Park and concentrate on ourselves Mayo we need to get our panel game oplan and fitness levels right for Sligo game and get as much as posible out of that game …..We need to stay in the long grass and dont make a sound and slowly build up our new players to make sure we have a bench to spring to win out the tight games….Theres a lot of tough decisions for our management team to make but they have to have courage and freshen up this squad too many runner up medals in our back pockets….Stay in the long grass and then strike when we are right….

  51. Gee. Some Interesting stuff above.

    1. A member of the Dublin backroom actively encouraging the “Hill” to boo Murphy when taking frees for Donegal.

    2 . A 2nd ball mysteriously appearing on the pitch in our game v Tyrone to slow down Clarke taking a quick restart. That tactic was used too in our semi final v Kerry in 2014 when the 2nd ball was thrown from the Kerry dugout at very unfavourable times for ourselves.

    3. The comments from the Kerry manager in the days leading up to yesterdays game.

    Lads, we have a lot to learn both on and off the field. Players and management and backroom staff need to be sent on a “dark arts” course (masters degree level) and qualify as a “fellow” or “doctor” in the subject. Everybody else is doing it and we are left behind. Behaving as Mr Nice guy has got us nowhere these last 65 years.

  52. – Fitzmaurice has learned lessons and modified his team as a result. He has gone for pace above all else with Murphy, Morley, the Guineys, Barry and even Mark Griffin flying up and down the field. David Moran was unreal, he bossed Fenton and Reddin out of the game.
    – After Pace he focused on tacking and boy did Kerry tackle hard yesterday, they robbed ball after ball with their tackling
    – Great match with some great point taking, great tackling, a few flying fists, one foot block and plenty of cards. Any chance the CCC might review the video and retrospectively apply some suspensions. I think Kerry hammed it up a bit in fairness with Guiney in particular going over the top.
    – I posted here before the league started that I thought Dublin would be beaten in the League (by Tyrone !!) because they would be putting all of their focus on 3 in a row and tailoring their training accordingly. Therefore nothing has changed for me, will watch Dublin closely to see if there is any fall-out from this. They can prepare for August because as of now yet again Leinster is a given.

  53. It was a cracking game of football tbf.A masterclass by Fitzmaurice,went toe to toe in the 2nd half and went for the game.look at the calibre of the subs he brought on,O’Sullivan,Maher,Sheehan.Keane,Crowley and Spillane.imo Kerry are getting there in terms of what is the optimum strategy and team selection and they will improve.Also James O’Donoghue has to come back in.

    I had to laugh at the end of RTE highlights show last night,images of Dublin and Kerry with that old ditty “We will meet again” playing in the back round.

    I guess Mayo are going to have to wait in the long grass but we have got to beat Galway in Pearse stadium.Interesting times for sure.

  54. do people want hennelly in goal for kick outs, you included Willie Joe??

    That’s the vibe im getting on here, with all the discussion here re Cluxton.

  55. Morag,.. Cluxton is probably the best gaelic-football goal keeper ever to play the game.. That’s why Dublin keep picking him… Clarke is at this moment in time ‘the best shot stopper in the game’… I think Clarke was picked as the best goal keeper during this year’s Allianz League, not just as Mayo’ s best player… I think Clarke will be Mayo’s No1 for the foreseeable future, barring injury or suspension… Clarke did not win a MotM award in his last three match’s. this year, all positive for Mayo.and .. indeed a sign of welcome progress in. defence for Mayo. It comes as a result of two things. No 1, opposition teams are less likely to go for goal versus Mayo considering the fine shot stopping form of David Clarke… No 2, since the welcome return of Chris Barrett and Brendan Harrison to the Mayo full back line, the return of Chris and Brendan was a blessing on the double for Mayo, it improves our full back line and also improved the half back line, allowing both Paddy Durcan and the player of the year Lee Keegan to their best position ‘s.. Since then, we have really cut out most of the opposition goal chances in the last three games… V Cavan, only one goal chance was conceded by Mayo. A chance Cavan took, a sublime finish. V Tyrone, only one half chance for a goal was conceded, not taken, and even better stats V Donegal, despite Donegal dominating so much of the match, they had absolutely no goal chance for the entire match… It is a pity is that, Robbie Hennelly was not given a chance in at least one league match, we never know when we might need him, better if he had a match or two under his belt in those circumstances… The reason I feel he didn’t, (or Rory Byrne whom I was impressed with in the FBD league) was because we did not have our position in Div 1,guaranteed until round 7, of the league… We are a work in progress, no more, and no less, but their are significant positive signs,!

  56. I never saw this one coming.. did Dublin think that they could just run through a few phases.. stick to the system and everything would be alright on the nite? Not taking away for one second that Kerry grafted for this win and we’re deserved winners.. but Dublin got caught rotten here.. there’s no two ways about it. The Dubs didn’t allow for a ref that called most of what he saw and was supported by his lines men, Diarmuid Connelly been sent off and the inexplicable absenteeism of some players.. Jack McCaffrey been case and point. Both teams will look nothing like this come the business end of the championship but you would have to say that Dublin are still well ahead of the leading pack

  57. Its interesting that it was until Kerry starting running at Dublin in the second half and stopped trying to kick balls into geaney when it wasn’t on that they really made hay. Very interesting considering we are actively trying to move away from our running game in favour of a kicking game where we’re guilty of the same aimless balls into Andy moran.

    I also note that the definition or lack of the tackle in Gaelic football makes it impossible for teams to know what th ref will blow for. There were games this year such as the Cavan game where the ref was not going give a free for anything, other games every push was considered a foul.

  58. If you think of the running power we can start and bring on, well you’d imagine we will return to it. It’s not a game that needs massive practice.
    So maybe the league was about developing a little bit better the kickpassing game for variety.
    Higgins and Durcan need to be taking passes at midfield as our two players who can break forward 20/30 yards.

  59. Cop on, Morag. Talk about adding two and two and getting twenty-two! Also Morag and JR, the player you referenced has a first name, in case you’ve forgotten it – he’s called Robbie. And, yes, he did play for Breaffy at the weekend.

  60. JP I’m afraid there’s too much reliance on people coming up from the back to get our scores.Its part of our arsenal …fine,but I would prefer more focus on what our mid players and in particular our ff line can achieve in that area…. regardless of where they do it from! And those coming up from the back are not always going to be the scorers either,so what their role is, is to introduce the odd shock tactic which will mingle with and work through the forward players. It’s been our weakness, runners from the back or no,that we have a want in what we are capable of …in terms of breaking through or timing our scoring attempts. Is it how we can’t do it or how we don’t believe it to be as essential as it is or do we not practice it?We saw it yesterday in both games …. the need to do all at v serious pace. And you won’t have all day to take that shot either.Whether it’s kicking or running ….it’s not the issue.The game is best played with both abilities at ones disposal. Some time ago someone asked whether we had a forwards coach.I would ask for a running coach… how,if, when, who and what’s at the end. Sometimes it appears there are fellas who think the game is going to go on for a month…. they are so profligate… throw the ball away without any compunction whatsoever. Morans display yesterday demonstrated what won it for Kerry….hard work and an attitude that shouted … My Ball and I’m going to do what I came out here to do….and he did it! There was no lolling around and looking for an easy way as has been alluded to by many.Theres no easy way. No matter who had the ball in whatever position you could see the K mark on it…pace pace and pace again!
    So,we too can do all this …. It’s a matter of going out and doing it and ///////// being properly prepared in body and mind before hand!
    And yes! There are interesting times ahead.

  61. I think my comments regards Cluxton were poorly worded. What I meant was that Kerry do a brilliant job of pressuring Cluxton’s kick outs, something which we can manage from time to time, but not to the same level as Kerry. Kerry show that he is not superhuman on the kick outs. That said, Cluxton had a great game andis a phenomenal goalie

  62. We have some of the best defensive talent in the country, I believe our tactics should focus on our strength. That is, snuffing out the opposition and counter attack football.

    Any word on Ger Caff…???

  63. @InBetweener I believe we should balance more towards having the running game from 8/9/10/12/13
    Parsons/SOS/Diarmuid/Durcan/Kevin Mc.
    Bring in subs then to freshen it up.

  64. Thanks WJ…I wonder how he’s going. It’s be great to have him back at as an option at 3.

    Obv Ger was on the 21 team in 06 but I think he’s still 29? A few years still in him
    , potentially.

  65. Ger realistically needs to be ready to play Sligo for us to be able to really have him this summer. As far as I know though he has been training for a while and yesterday was his second game with ballina. Should get another two under the belt before the A V B games

  66. Ballina play Moy Davitts next Saturday. Possibly Ger Caff picking up Brian Reape as an interesting matchup.
    Two teams with roughly the same form at u21 the last few years, one title each and competitive most years in A grade.

  67. Toe to hand, I don’t know how you didn’t sees one point loss coming for dublin. They drew a few games and were pretty lucky with some of the wins. The likes of kerry, Mayo and perhaps donegal and tyrone are well capable of giving them a game in August or as we in Mayo know too well, september. We lost 2 finals by a single point to them in the last few years.
    For all their greatness they are there to be beaten if you play them at their own game.

  68. JP…..all I’m saying is that we don’t do the running effectively ….. we depend on being good enough and going so far with it as to get a few frees.I wish Cillian would sometimes have it in him to hit a short pass esp when he’s beyond his limit but we don’t have that kind of intent in our system or confidence….a kind of defeatist attitude surfaces and often after some heroics back down the field.

  69. Dave. . It wouldn’t surprise me at all if Tyrone (I don’t see Donegal in the reckoning later in the year) were to catch Dublin in an All-Ireland semi with them being under cooked or something like that but not this early in the year based on previous years performances. Yes they had lots of close games against the parked bus of the northern teams and games played outside of Croaker but this was a league final. A few Dublin players made an effort but there was no intensity there for long periods.. certainly nothing like the intensity I thought they brought against Mayo. Either Dublin are gone well back or we are being sold a pup.. Just saying

  70. Any word on any challenge match’s for Mayo coming up? If I remember right there used to be one on the May bank holiday, think the last one I was at was against Cavan in Ballina a couple of years ago.

  71. Important games are won and lost in the last 10mins.. clear heads, composure, awareness.. don’t panic if you go a few points behind.. utilise the bench to the full. You simply can’t get enough of that type of experience in Croake Parke especially for new recruits.. the last kick of the game to draw and all that. If I was the Dublin manager I’d do my level best to give the squad as much of that type of experience in the league as I could.. even if it meant dropping key players.. s’long as it built strength, depth and experience in the overall squad… sure you’re playing close to the wind in that you could loose an important game but it’s a small price to play if Dean Rock slots the winning point off the turf in injury time to win sam. I could be wrong but that’s my guess what there up too.

  72. Exactly right toe to hand which is why I wanted them.to win last Sunday. Keep the unbeaten record. Now we have Kerry with their tails up and their chests puffed out thinking the AI is theirs. JoD is the only player of note out through injury and I’m not sure how effective he can be with so little game time. Dublin were missing McCaffrey , Cooper, Small, Costello (who won the game for them against us) & Connolly for most of the match. He looked like he was on form too. Still the team to beat.

  73. Full round of club league games this weekend.
    Charlestown – Aghamore – Should be Aghamore by a few points.
    Claremorris – Breaffy. – Breaffy comfortable.
    Crossmolina – Ballintubber – This should be a tight game. Ballintubber to sneak it, having a better midfield.
    Garrymore – Ballaghadereen – Ballaghadereen by a few points.
    Hollymount – Davitts – Davitts to sneak it.
    Knockmore – Castlebar. Castlebar are already into flying form. Castlebar should win by a few points.
    Division 1B
    Ardnaree – Kiltimagh. Kiltimagh flying form already scoring 5-19 against The Neale. Should win this one.
    Ballinrobe – Kilmaine. Ballinrobe should win comfortable. .
    Belmullet – Kiltane. Local Derby. Belmullet to sneak it.
    Islandeady – Mayo Gaels. Mayo Gaels have the better panel and should win this by a few points.
    Moy Davitts – Ballina. It’s been all favorites to win so far. Moy Davitts to sneak this at home.
    Divison 1C
    Balla – Achill. Should be a comfortable win for Balla
    Ballyhaunis – Parke – Ballyhanus comfortable win.
    Bonniconlon – Louisburgh – Louisburgh comfortable win.
    Burrishoole – Ardagh. Comfortable Burrishoole win. Big development result for Ardagh if they push close.
    Shrule – Lahardane. Comfortable Shrule win.

  74. My take on the league final result is that it’ll kick any complacency out of the dubs. It’ll make them harder to beat for anyone in the championship. I’m on the ‘poke the bear’ side of the fence. Although it’s not to say they cannot be beaten. We showed last sept/oct that they can be beaten (there was nothing between us and them in those two games).

    Kerry’s tails are certainly up and they’ll be gung-ho to make it to a final in sept having lost last years semi-final.

  75. I’m with Mayonaze on the league final result.
    I probably wanted Dublin to win it, just to keep up this media led image of their invincibility. The time to catch them on the hop is in August or September, not a league final in April.
    The result has also given Kerry a massive boost and the confidence (not that they ever lack that) to believe they can go on and win Sam this year.
    The only positive I can see is that the media will continually drive the narrative that it’s all set for a “dream” Dublin Kerry final in September.
    We can expect to see the Kerry media mafia out in full force after this, playing down this win and continuing to build the Dubs up.

  76. I don’t think the media led hype of the Dublin team has done anyone other then the dubs any favours. The narrative was the Dublin are the purist playing the right way and it’s the team against them that was cynical, can you image the uproar of Tyrone won a game the way Dublin bet Mayo in the last 20mins of the 2013 final? Because it has been pushed that Dublin are the purists playing the game the right way there wasn’t a peep about it. Make no mistake jim Gavin and the Dublin PR machine have gone out of their way to force through this message because they know it gives them an advantage in games. The best think to happen in the league is that fitzmorris decided to push back against this and in fairness it seems to have turned the tide a bit. Dublin are still the team to beat but as long as it’s an equal playing pitch other top teams will have a chance.

  77. Niallmc1983 – if you have a reputation as an early riser, you can stay in bed all day. Its interesting to see that the Dubs were not let get away with as much as they usually do on Sunday.
    Goes to show the narrative they have been peddling has worked in their favour, but now that its being challenged, they may not be so fortunate.
    Despite that, Philly McMahon seems to only tackle with the closed fist, often to the head. How he continues to get away with that without punishment, or even having this noted by the media is telling in its own right.

  78. FBD that’s totally correct. A big problem is that any journalist with the nerve to question the high moral values of the dubs is very soon shut out.

  79. Well now…from Kerry GAA blog

    agree with ballythefireside. Just completely forget about mayo ok. The day they will beat Kerry will be never simple as that. And only 1 or 2 of those u21s have been seen in the league for mayo and they only average. Out of the Kerry Dublin Mayo. Id love to be Kerry at this moment and for the future. Dublin are declining even their own fans recognise this. Obviously they are still talented and We will even need a better performance to beat them in September but im Sure we wil with u21s coming through and a perfect blend of seasoned campaigners such as Donnacha , Bryan, Donaghy, Killian,.Competiton will be Serious.

    Read more: http://kerrygaa.proboards.com/thread/6720/kerry-dublin-league-final?page=11#ixzz4dwdKqiNC

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