Friday 9 December 2016

Off the Ball: It's too soon to determine level of Dublin's greatness

Ger Gilroy

Published 05/10/2016 | 02:30

1 October 2016; The Dublin team celebrate with the Sam Maguire cup after the GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship Final Replay match between Dublin and Mayo at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
1 October 2016; The Dublin team celebrate with the Sam Maguire cup after the GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship Final Replay match between Dublin and Mayo at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Kerry improved all summer long while keeping their old guard involved and engaged. It was brilliant management of resources by Eamonn Fitzmaurice. Photo: Sportsfile

Before MTV became a giant teenage reality TV show it used to speak to bands and play music. There's a golden age in the channel's history where they caught young musicians unguarded, happy to speak to their spiritual broadcast home.

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As a result archive material is now becoming documentary, and at the moment knocking about on Sky there's a brilliant two hours of first person REM interviews intercut with live performances. For a period REM put together a sustained period of excellence, from Out of Time to Automatic for the People to Monster they were truly great. During the Monster tour their drummer had an aneurysm and a couple of other band members had surgery and they became conscious of their greatness and the moment, like all moments passed.

The end of this Gaelic football season leaves us with a thousand unanswered questions about the state of the game and the current pecking order at the top. Are Dublin at the end of Monster or are they actually just getting into the second half of Out of Time? While they cruised their way through the end of the league campaign and cantered through Leinster it felt like they might run away with the Championship.

A definite case was there to be made that Dublin were only clearing the pipes for a run at all time greatness.

It felt too at that point that perhaps the transition Kerry were undergoing would be long and deep and they weren't truly capable of being a rival to this Dublin team. That was wrong.

Kerry improved all summer long while keeping their old guard involved and engaged. It was brilliant management of resources by Eamonn Fitzmaurice. He now has the great minor teams of Jack O'Connor filtering into training and bucking to be let loose. They're not done. Quite the opposite.

It felt early in the year that Mayo had come off their own peak - Aidan O'Shea said as much - and that any defeat for them would wound their psyche so much that any comeback would be impossible. That may still be true but it feels wrong right now. For Kerry's minors read Mayo's U-21s.

Tyrone believed their own hype but their setback should sharpen regret and drive winter nights training.

For Dublin the unconscious element has passed. Going back to back and winning four makes them great. Indisputably. Having dealt with that pressure once do they know the trick and grow bigger, or is it a spirit you can only draw on so often?

We can't know this until next August but there is now a glorious tension hanging over next year's Championship as Dublin answer a question they themselves are posing. How great are we?

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