Impressive Dublin prevail but being participants in a classic of little consolation to Kerry
Winning and losing of an epic contest came down to one vital late kick-out
Dublin’s Diarmuid Connolly and Jonny Cooper tackle David Moran of Kerry. Photo: James Crombie/Inpho
Dublin’s Michael Darragh Macauley tackles Kerry’s Colm Cooper. Photo: Cathal Noonan/Inpho
I met a few of the Kerry players on Monday and the first thing you’d notice about them is that they were probably the last people in the country to give a damn about whether the game had been a classic or not. It didn’t matter to them high up or low down. And as for telling them they had a lot to be proud of in the way they performed! You’d want to be standing a good two or three yards away before you tried that one out for size.
There is no enjoyment to be found in a defeat. When these guys retire and football is talked about, these are guys that are going to come well out of any conversation. They know that.
All they were interested in was grabbing another medal when it was there for them. They’d have lived long and happy lives without playing in another classic game.
The win was there for them. It was a game that came down to one kick-out.
As a Kerry footballer, the one thing you’d always think you’d probably have over Dublin would be the bit of cuteness and the ability to do the right thing when it mattered. But we didn’t do it right under that kick-out.
Kerry had three players there for it – David Moran, Marc Ó Sé and Fionn Fitzgerald. Now to me, Marc was the man facing the ball so it was his to call for. He says he did but in fairness David Moran probably thought he could make it too. It was just a mix-up and it cost Kerry badly.
Michael Darragh Macauley got in between them to flick the ball away and Kevin McManamon did the rest.
It’s funny, when you’re sitting high up in the stand as a supporter, you think you can see the game better than the players on the pitch. You think you know more about what’s going on. But all four guys who went for that kick-out knew what it meant. They knew that was the game right there. And if Kerry had won that kick-out, I’d have given them a great chance to go up for the winner.
The easy way to see the game is that Dublin had the legs on Kerry. And maybe they had. But there was still nothing between the teams in the last minute of the 70 so Kerry didn’t come off too badly for a bunch of old guys.
There was one point in the second half when Tomás Ó Sé got caught up the pitch and left his man Diarmuid Connolly in an acre of space. It was a risk to take but you could see that he took it to try to get Kerry a goal. But in fairness to Stephen Cluxton – who wasn’t having a good day with his kick-outs – he saw the opportunity straight away once the ball went out of play.
He actually caught Tomás’s eye and immediately looked up to see where Connolly was. And fair play to him, he had the balls to stick the ball on the ground and ping it 60 yards into Connolly’s chest. For a guy who was having a poor game to be that switched on and that accurate at a crucial stage says a lot about him.
Tomás knew he was in trouble. He was so tired at that point in the game he could hardly lift his hands over his head. He says he was so wrecked that he couldn’t even shout at the fellas around him to go back in his place. It was pure thickness that was carrying him back up the pitch.
It was a game with so many talking points. Eamonn Fitzmaurice got so much right with his tactics. Putting Donnchadh Walsh on Jack McCaffrey was a masterstroke – I would have thought beforehand that Donnchadh might be short of a yard of pace for that sort of assignment. But he gave young McCaffrey a fair lesson.