Kevin McStay: John Small hit on Eoghan McLaughlin was a wild and dangerous foul

The sport quickly needs to realise these hits are more an act of cowardice than bravery

Mayo’s Eoghan McLaughlin lies on the ground after a challenge  from Dublin’s John Small during the All-Ireland semi-final at Croke Park. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Mayo’s Eoghan McLaughlin lies on the ground after a challenge from Dublin’s John Small during the All-Ireland semi-final at Croke Park. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

When your opponent is favourite to win an All-Ireland semi-final there is a reckoning that goes on in your head. Logic assures you that the other team – which has not lost in six years – will probably win. But there is also an amusing law of championship football: as the days tick down, the gap always narrows. The counter-argument grows louder. You find reasons why your crowd might, could, just maybe, somehow – win. So it went for Mayo.

I think that law is in danger of becoming obsolete because there is so much preview material – articles and TV shows and podcasts in which every nook and cranny is explored, removing that illogical narrowing of the gap in the mind. Those conversations are based on form and reason. The old tingling feeling – I just think they are going to do it . . . doesn’t come into it.

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