Monday 22 January 2018

Groundhog absent for once as monkey finally climbs off Kerry's back

Kerry fans John Downey and John Fitzmorris with Dublin supporter Ailish O’Neill after the match Photo: Fergal Phillips
Kerry fans John Downey and John Fitzmorris with Dublin supporter Ailish O’Neill after the match Photo: Fergal Phillips

Ryan Nugent at Croke Park

The groundhog had almost scampered its way back into Croker to save the day only for the Kingdom to rip up the script and put paid to a hoodoo that had been more rodent infestation than mere agitation.

Jim Gavin's 'bounce of a ball' phrase can often seem overused - but it was just that, right off the post in the dying seconds, which finally saw the monkey climb off Éamonn Fitzmaurice's back.

They came from Killarney and Tralee and Dingle in hope rather than expectation, recent meetings with their old rival sapping confidence.

One Kerry supporter pre-match had even devised a plan for a quick escape.

Dublin fans, from left, Cliona Cooley, Auden Lynch, Aoife Malone and Sinead Casserly
Photo: Fergal Phillips
Dublin fans, from left, Cliona Cooley, Auden Lynch, Aoife Malone and Sinead Casserly Photo: Fergal Phillips

"If we're being hammered by a couple of goals, the car is in a good spot to get clear," he said.

The sheer delight post-match dictates that that car may still have been pitched up in the capital this morning.

Both sets of supporters knew there were bigger fish to fry come the autumn, though the dish served up had the bite of a Championship game in late August or September.

Veteran broadcaster Jimmy Magee even mused post-match whether this might be birth of a Kerry team ready to take the throne.

Mick Galwey with his son Ruaidhri (11) Photo: Fergal Phillips
Mick Galwey with his son Ruaidhri (11) Photo: Fergal Phillips

"What was it, 53,000 on a cold day in April? That says it all for the two teams involved," Magee said.

"Maybe not this year, but they (Kerry) will be good enough in time.

"I hope the Dubs will be slightly wounded (going into the summer) but not bad tempered.

"They are a great team."

Tyrone manager Mickey Harte with his grandson Mickey Photo: Fergal Phillips
Tyrone manager Mickey Harte with his grandson Mickey Photo: Fergal Phillips

It takes something special to beat the Dubs, Magee explained - a team in their pomp, on a 36-game unbeaten run and feeling invincible.

One Kerry supporter's anxiety as his side took a five point lead in the second half said it all.

"Surely, surely we'll do it this time."

And when Dean Rock lined up a free kick 74 minutes into the game to level it, it all felt inevitable.

"It was looking like that in fairness, he had the distance but not the accuracy. Sometimes you need a bit of luck and we haven't had luck for a while," Kerry great Mick Galwey said.

Asked if Dublin might be ready to pounce next time out in early autumn, John Fitzmaurice from Moyvane had different ideas.

"We'll be waiting in the long grass; don't worry, we haven't shown our hand yet," he said.

"It'll be like the 1970s all over again, we'll be back dominating," he added, tongue perhaps lodged in cheek.

His work colleague Ailish O'Neill from Clontarf was a tad more pragmatic in defeat.

"Sure we have to let someone else win some time, it was 36 games... we'll be back in September, they won't," she said.

Most would not have noticed, judging by the tiny early crowd, but there was another game on and a far longer drought put to an end, as Galway's footballers took home the Division Two title - their first victory at Croke Park in 13 years.

So the GAA juggernauts from down south topple the Dubs and normal order is restored?

Let's see what Diarmuid Connolly and co think of that.

Here's to the summer.

Irish Independent

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