Sunday 23 November 2014

Trolling keyboard warriors miss point after epic upset

Ger Gilroy

Published 03/09/2014 | 02:30

31 August 2014; Ryan McHugh, left, and Neil McGee, Donegal, celebrate their side's victory. GAA Football All Ireland Senior Championship, Semi-Final, Dublin v Donegal, Croke Park, Dublin. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
31 August 2014; Ryan McHugh, left, and Neil McGee, Donegal, celebrate their side's victory. GAA Football All Ireland Senior Championship, Semi-Final, Dublin v Donegal, Croke Park, Dublin. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

A specific strain of the torrent of texts, tweets and emails into the show after Donegal beat Dublin was of the nah-nah-nah-nah variety, pointing out that we had been talking of five-in-a-row possibilities for Dublin and were really struggling to see how to make the case for a Donegal win.

Even though we found a couple of brave souls who were up for making that case, notably Brendan Devenney and Tony McEntee, who both talked in detail about a game-plan that might work, still the taunting texts and tweets about the media being full of crap, a disgrace, needing-sacking rolled in.

It's strange how some people feel we'd rather be right than watch brilliant sport. Never has a shock been so thrilling to watch unfold. One tweet likened it to the Germany-Brazil game, and that was the best short-hand I could find.

People also took it personally that I suggested this was the biggest shock of the last 20 years. In pure gambling terms there are probably a few other events that match it - twitter yesterday pointed to the Monaghan-Donegal Ulster final last year, the Longford-Derry qualifier this year and the Antrim U-21s beating Wexford. Not quite the same box office and not quite the same story as the unbeaten Dubs being out-thought in Croker in the second biggest game of the year.

The pre-game analysis had to factor in that Donegal's forwards weren't playing as well as they had been when they won the All Ireland in 2012, that since Mayo last year they'd looked human in all aspects of the game, that Mark McHugh was a big loss and that several other key players weren't playing with the same confidence or mobility - McBrearty, McFadden and Lacey for starters.

It was pure faith in McGuinness that convinced a few brave souls to give Donegal a chance in public before the game. Add in how well Dublin had coped with setbacks winning the league and perhaps the notion that it was the media puffing Dublin up begins to sound like a conspiracy theory.

Astonished

In that first quarter, we were astonished by the pace and accuracy of Dublin's forwards. They were brilliant. The odds touched 50/1 on. It looked like they were going to swat Donegal aside, that Mayo last year was the true measure of Donegal, that one All-Ireland was going to be a fair reflection of the relative resources of Donegal.

It would not have diminished the genius of McGuinness. Until Christy Toye came on they looked flat-footed, directionless, lacking animation. They were sliced open for seven points and a great goal opportunity. It had the potential to get ugly.

What happened next will thrill Donegal fans forever. As the video gets analysed and the stats reveal precisely how and who, a wealth of new incidents will emerge blinking into folklore and reputations reach stratospheric proportions.

Their team pulled out an 11-point turnaround from the 25th minute on. It was football for the ages - dynamic, aggressive, intelligent and self-confident, as beautiful and thrilling as sport can be. It's a game that will become a founding text of how to play the game. We were wrong about the future for Dublin, for now. Nah-nah-nah-nah!

Irish Independent

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