Shock All-Ireland draw proves there’s life in Gaelic football yet
TV View: Never mind the mega tsunami – this whirlwind of a game left us all reeling
Lead boots but no lead balloon: Dublin’s Dean Rock prepares to take a free during the All-Ireland SFC final against Kerry in Croke Park on Sunday. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho
As his colleagues on the RTÉ panel pointed out, it’s not often that Pat Spillane is left speechless, but come full-time Ciarán Whelan told us there hadn’t been a word out of the fella for the closing stages of the game, the exquisite tension and drama of it all rendering him mute. But, finally, he broke his silence. And it’s not every day that Pat speaks for us all. But he did this time. “Ah Jeez, Joanne, it was great to be alive today,” he said, the ruddiness of his cheeks suggesting that his heart had just exited a grinder.
Completely marvellous stuff, enough to leave even neutrals’ tummies in knots, and it might just have dispelled, for now at least, that theory about Gaelic football being dead and buried. Lazarus how are ya? There’s life in it yet.
Over on RTÉ One, around the same time as the game, was a cheerful-sounding programme by the name of Could We Survive an Atlantic Mega Tsunami?, and, as it happened, that was kind of how Joe Brolly had apocalyptically characterised Kerry’s chances of surviving waves of Dublin attacks, his notion being that the Kingdom would disappear under the deluge.
This Dublin team don’t do shocks . . . it would the biggest upset we’ve ever seen if they managed to lose this somehow
“This is a democracy of excellence . . . a culture of selflessness,” he said of the Dubs, citing Michael Darragh MacAuley as an example: “He’d put his head in where you wouldn’t put a crowbar.” And while Pat battled pluckily to remind him that Kerry aren’t exactly the Accrington Stanley of the game, Joe was having none of it.
“CAN I JUST FINISH THE POINT? CAN I JUST FINISH THE POINT PLEASE? SERIOUSLY, STOP PATTING ME.”
(Joe being aggrieved about being interrupted is akin to Warren Buffett accusing someone of being rich).
Patting Pat, though, reminded us that it had taken Rory McIlroy eight attempts to insert his ball in the hole at the first in Portrush at this summer’s British Open, so “pressure can do strange things”, but Joe interrupted him to point out that “this Dublin team don’t do shocks . . . it would the biggest upset we’ve ever seen if they managed to lose this somehow.” By now you’d have been wondering why Kerry would even turn up.
By half-time, the Dubs four points up, there was a heap to discuss, not least the award of a penalty to Kerry, the saving of it by the Cluxton man and the sending-off of Jonny Cooper.
The penalty, said Joe, “was a scandal” (“it was not even the first cousin of a penalty!”), the sending-off no less of an outrage, Joe reckoning it was Cooper who had been fouled when he grabbed a hold of David Clifford’s arm.
It was possibly at this point that Michael Lyster, wherever he was watching from, felt a little like Theresa May, ie relieved to be gone, chuffed to be leaving it to his successor to deal with the buffoonery. In fairness, though, BoJo asked for Brexit; it’s doubtful Joanne Cantwell ever requested Brolly.
Trip to Specsavers
But Joanne tried valiantly to point out to Joe that the referee isn’t actually entitled to overlook the rules just because it’s a Dub who infringes them, and she came mightily close to telling Ciarán he needed a trip to Specsavers when he reviewed the footage of the Cooper/Clifford incident and insisted he spotted no arm-grabbing, when arm-grabbing was plain to see, even for someone requiring spectacles. Joe, meanwhile, was so angry with Pat for making a similar point that he even called him “Patrick”. That’s how ugly it turned.
They won the last four All-Irelands, they didn’t exactly get them in Lucky Bags
The second half? Ah lookit, one for the ages. Culminating in that free at the death for Dublin. “This is the moment,” said Ger Canning, going all Colm CT Wilkinson-ish on us, as Dean Rock stepped up. “If you’d a pair of wellingtons on you, you’d tap these over the bar,” Kevin McStay had said of an earlier easy-peasy Rock free, but if he was any way human he must have felt like he was wearing lead boots for this one.
Wide. Replay required. Lovely jubbly.
“Yerra,” said Kerry manager Peter Keane when Clare McNamara asked him to sum up the game. The Dubs? “They won the last four All-Irelands, they didn’t exactly get them in Lucky Bags.” Kerry weren’t just in Dublin for the day out? “We didn’t bring twelve or thirteen thousand Kerry people to Croke Park just for the spin.”
Yerra indeed. Our Lucky Bag came up trumps, we have a sequel.