Seamus Duke On Sport – 23rd September

Mayo have the measure of the Dubs!

I have been lucky enough to have attended all the All-Ireland finals in the past few decades and while last Sunday’s match between Mayo and Dublin may not have been the best in terms of quality football it was a stunning contest. It was ferocious in its intensity, passionate and spellbinding throughout as both sides battled for the title in front of a capacity crowd.

  I have never been at an All-Ireland involving Dublin before where the opposing team outnumbered their supporters but that’s what happened last Sunday. I don’t know where Mayo people got all the tickets but they hoovered them up from all over the place. The atmosphere was unreal. It is some occasion. I know I am probably biased but there is nothing like it in sport and I have been to a lot of major events over a range of sports.    

  As for the game itself: it would have been probably the worst loss that a Mayo senior team has ever endured if they had lost last Sunday and that’s saying something! The amount of courage, determination and refusal to bow the knee was a joy to behold. Not even the concession of two own goals affected them as they refused to lie down.

  Dublin will claim that they will never play as badly again but the facts of the matter are that they played as well as they were allowed. The Mayo defence in particular was brilliant. Celebrated attackers like Paul Flynn, Bernard Brogan, Kevin McManamon and Dean Rock were blotted out of the game. The duel between Lee Keegan and Diarmuid Connolly was worth the admission money alone. They cancelled each other out. I’d say when Diarmuid Connolly went to bed on Sunday night he had to check underneath the bed to make sure that Lee Keegan was not there!  

  In fairness to Dublin, their subs Paul Mannion and Paddy Andrews did well and Brian Fenton was again very effective at midfield. But Mayo were heroic all over the field. David Clarke made three fantastic saves (although he made a few poor kick-outs too), Donal Vaughan had his best game in a number of years in the defence and Paddy Durcan was superb as well. Lee Keegan spent the day keeping Diarmuid Connolly at bay. Tom Parsons had a great game in the middle of the field. Up front Mayo were not as good. Aidan O’Shea was poor again and he needs to pick it up for the replay, Andy Moran was excellent though and he is having a great year and you have to hand it to Cillian O’Connor: he always does it on the big day. What a point it was to level the scores in the 77th minute. It was no more than Mayo deserved.

  So what about the replay? I actually think that rather than having missed the bus that Mayo will now go into the game certain that they can finish the job this time. They know they have the measure of the Dubs now. One thing is for certain, if Dublin play the way they did last Sunday they will not be keeping Sam Maguire in the capital. Before last Sunday I didn’t think that Mayo had a chance but now I know they do. Who would begrudge them a long overdue title? They will have to earn it but they have the team to do it, that’s for sure.

  The minor game was a huge disappointment. Galway did their best to contain Kerry but they made some puzzling decisions on the line taking off three of their best players. The third Kerry goal from David Clifford was as good as I have ever seen in a final but overall it was a poor game. Three in a row minor titles for Kerry – who said that there was anything wrong with Kerry football?

Ladies’ GAA goes from strength to strength

I went to Knockcroghery last Saturday evening to the ladies’ club finals and it was a great day out for the game in the county. There was a huge crowd, the biggest that I have ever seen at the county final, and there was some mighty football played. Pride of place of course goes to Kilbride who won their first ever senior title in their first final. Well done also to Pearses who won the intermediate title and Michael Glavey’s who won the junior title.

  There were some brilliant individual performances on the day but I will pick out two. In the senior final Siobhan Tully was sensational, and in the intermediate final Pearses’ Heather Payne had a stormer.

  The standard of attacking play was really top class and the ladies’ game is going from strength to strength in the county.

  Let’s hope that this success transfers on to the inter-county stage now. The appointment of former star Michael Finneran is a positive move and I wish him the best of luck. There is certainly plenty of young talent there.

Mourinho’s honeymoon is over

With the hectic schedule of GAA games both locally and nationally I haven’t had much time to look in detail at the Premier League so far but from what I have seen the honeymoon period for Jose Mourinho is well and truly over and after spending so much money Manchester United will have to get their act together very soon.

  I saw Liverpool against Chelsea last Friday night and was very impressed. They need to be more consistent though. But the best team by a long way that I have seen so far this season are Man City. Guardiola has them playing very well and they look like a side that can score almost every time they attack. Even at this early stage of the season they look likely champions.

  I also saw Celtic v Bercelona last week and it was like watching two teams who play a different sport. The lack of quality in the Scottish Premier League was surely evident. Celtic lost 7-0 and were lucky it wasn’t 15-0.

From the Internet

To illustrate what I was saying about the atmosphere at Sunday’s All-Ireland final here is an interesting little story from The 42.ie this week:

Sunday’s All-Ireland football final between Dublin and Mayo kept its captive audience at the edge of their seats from the first minute until the last.

And the drama was very much reflected in the noise coming from the crowd – noise levels that reached 114 decibels (db) when Dublin (well, technically Mayo) scored the first goal of the game.

  The GAA is obviously pretty happy at the wall of sound created by the fans during the decider  – a tweet this week suggested that the 100 db mark was breached on a number of other occasions also – when the teams entered the pitch, at the very beginning of the game, and for Mayo’s first score.

  So just how loud is that? Well, by way of comparison, it’s louder than: A symphony orchestra (about 110 db); a motorcycle (about 105 db); a Boeing 747 during take-off at 1,000 feet distance (about 100 db) and an indoor rock concert (about 100 db). (courtesy of the 42.ie)

Championship Crystal Ball

TG4 All-Ireland Ladies Football Finals – This Sunday in Croke Park:

SFC Final Dublin v Cork at 4 pm: One of the greatest teams in the history of Irish sport are the Cork ladies. Surely they have to be beaten at some stage. If anyone is to relieve them of their title it will be Dublin who have had some heartbreaking losses in recent years. It won’t be easy but I have a feeling that this could well be their year. Prediction: Dublin

IFC Final Clare v Kildare: There will be Roscommon interest here as one of the famous Earley’s from Newbridge will be playing for the Lillywhites. They should be good enough. Prediction: Kildare

JFC Final Antrim v Longford: Prediction: Longford