The weekend’s not yet over and I’m already back at work and so with very little time to talk about today’s events at Croker where Kerry (yawn) qualified for their gazillionth All-Ireland final, overcoming the Dubs by two points.
Much-hyped it may have been but today’s semi-final was an ugly, ill-tempered affair, badly refereed by the incompetent John Bannon and largely devoid of any good football. Dublin were desperately disappointing, none more so than Ciaran Whelan who, despite his 6’4’’ frame managed to keep himself hidden for virtually the entire 70 minutes. Other key men, notably Conal Keaney and the Brogan boys, also failed to spark in the manner expected and overall Dublin played more poorly today than at any time previously in this year’s Championship.
Kerry, by contrast, were far better than in the quarter-final (no surprise there, then). While they had showed plenty of snarling aggression in that ugly opening 35 minutes (most of it embodied in corner-back Marc O Se who, amazingly, managed to avoid getting carded in the first half), in fairness most of it was a reaction to a number of late hits and verbals taunts meted out by De Boyz en Blew.
Whatever good football was played today was played by the Kerrymen. They opened and closed impressively in both halves and this was enough to give them victory on the day. In both halves, they ceded authority to the Dubs after blistering openings but while Dublin were able to overhaul them in the first 35 minutes, the 1-3 that Kerry bashed in early in the second half proved too much of a mountain to climb.
The Dubs did manage to reduce the deficit to a single point but Kerry then kicked for home, widening the gap to three before the Dubs reduced it to the minimum again but, tellingly, it was Kerry who got the final point to seal a two-point win. That close call against Monaghan in the quarters obviously stood to them today.
So too did their bench, where, once again, the two O’Sullivans came on and did damage against a tiring Dublin backline. The paucity of options on the bench available to the Dubs was shown by Pillar’s decision, following Kerry’s second half blitzkrieg, to send Ray Cosgrove into the fray. I ask you – Ray’s last good season for Dublin was in 2002 and he proceeded to prove the point that he had nothing to offer the game’s proceedings.
There’s little else to say about today’s match. Dublin underperformed once again on the big day, Kerry yet again had the greater hunger for success. There’s not all that much mystery, or, indeed, on today’s evidence, magic about how the big issues in Gaelic football are settled. That’s unlikely to change next month, where although the final offers some novelty in terms of line-up, the script is unlikely to prove original.