Thursday 21 September 2017

John Mullane: Floodlit final will be unique but replay deserves daylight

Goalkeepers Patrick Kelly and Anthony Nash after the drawn All-Ireland final
Goalkeepers Patrick Kelly and Anthony Nash after the drawn All-Ireland final

John Mullane

IT seems that the floodlights will be in use for the All-Ireland final replay on September 28 – and that's not a good thing as far as I'm concerned.

I remember in 2010 that we beat Cork in a Munster final replay at Semple Stadium under lights and there was a magical feel about the evening.

It was special, but this is an All-Ireland final and it deserves to be played in daylight.

Some people might think that finishing the final under lights is a unique thing and a breakthrough moment of sorts, but it's not for me.

I understand that other factors were considered before the replay date and time became known, but I would have been in favour of pushing the game back until Sunday, October 6.

The 5.0 throw-in is not ideal for players, but they'll get on with it and I'm sure both teams will be training under lights until then.

Flying

If I was Cork manager Jimmy Barry-Murphy, I'd consider flying the team to Dublin or getting the train on the morning of the game.

The extra hour and a half of waiting brings a new dimension to preparations and won't sit well with some players.

But if the travel itinerary is handled correctly and well thought-out, players will be more relaxed and have less time thinking about what lies ahead.

For Waterford in 2010, it was easy to get ourselves back up for the replay against Cork because we had come from five points down and Tony Browne scored an injury-time goal to level it.

We were given a second chance and it's very easy to build yourself back up again when that happens.

I wonder now whether Cork or Clare are in that space. Perhaps it's Clare, who got the last score of the game to draw. But they will feel that they should have won it in normal time. Or maybe it's Cork, who played poorly and yet still could have won.

Of the two managers, I do think that Jimmy Barry-Murphy will have slept better on the Sunday night.

He'll know that his team played well below par and still came out with a draw. And if you'd told him with 10 minutes to go that the game would end in a stalemate, he'd have bitten your hand off.

JBM will have learned an awful lot more than Davy Fitzgerald did.

And his main objective now is to work on cutting down the space that Clare are able to create for themselves.

Clare had so much of it against Limerick and Galway and there was loads of lovely green grass for them to operate in during the drawn final.

I'd also agree with Daithi Regan's assertion that Davy's not doing his team many favours with his comments about Brian Gavin.

Referees operate in a close circle, they talk to each other and they talk about managers and players. That's just how it is.

Look at JBM's response to the question about the additional 30 seconds. He said nothing about it and I think that in this situation, silence was golden and it's usually the best reaction, given the circumstances. Let the media and the general public play it out – but don't get involved.

It may not do Davy or his team any good in the long term.

No referee goes out to deliberately 'do' any team. Gavin was lenient towards Cork defender Shane O'Neill, but at the same time, he added that time on and Clare scored the equalising point. On the balance of play, then, things seemed to even themselves out.

Looking back on the video, the incident that will have infuriated Davy and Clare the most was the foul on David McInerney that went unpunished, with Cork getting the free in.

Outside of that, the penalty was a penalty in my view and after a shaky start, I felt that Gavin had a relatively good second half.

And let's not forget how much pressure he was under, too.

I've discussed the type of pressures that players experience, but Brian was also under an enormous amount of it.

With a crowd of almost 82,000 packed into Croke Park and millions watching all over the world on TV, he would have wanted to put on a good performance too.

For the players now, they'll have come down from the high of the first Sunday. Recovery sessions in the pool, visits to the sea will have helped to ease the knocks and for a number of the Clare players, they had the U-21 final on Saturday.

For this coming week, I'm sure JBM and Davy will get loads of hurling into their players, and slowly build them back up again for the replay.

Mindset is all-important and for some of the Clare lads, they could end up pocketing a third All-Ireland medal in the space of 12 months. Now that would be a phenomenal achievement.

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