Friday 20 September 2019

Editorial: 'Encore of sporting feast will be welcomed by all'

Supporters leave the stadium after the final. Photo: Sportsfile
Supporters leave the stadium after the final. Photo: Sportsfile


Once again, the men in green and gold showed that when it comes to the big game, you undervalue Kerry football at your peril. On the day, they missed a penalty and two good goal chances, yet still they drew with the all-conquering four-time champions, Dublin.

But first things first: all credit to these two sides who served up a top-class game of Gaelic football at Croke Park yesterday and rescued a rather dull and often one-sided season. In the final stages of this tense and evenly matched encounter, the entire nation held its breath.

Neutrals will readily agree that, in the very end, neither side deserved to lose. Irish people in all counties, and in every corner of the world, will savour the prospect of a replay in the realistic hope that this sporting feast will continue to please us.

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Going into this All-Ireland senior football final Kerry were unfancied by all - but undaunted by that, they showed true grit.

They went to Croke Park with a clear belief that victory was possible.

Praise for the underdogs on this occasion is not to be read as any denigration of Dublin. On the day, they also played some sparkling football and yet again showed that they never take anything for granted.

The Dublin team, their back-up group and mentors and, above all, their loyal and fanatical supporters, can put aside thoughts of what might have been. They will rightly rue missed scoring chances in the final moments. Yet the simple reality remains that the "drive for five" - never achieved in the history of this storied game - remains a very real prospect and is still just 70 minutes away.

Whatever the outcome of the game, already Dublin deserve special commendation for playing a very attractive brand of attacking football which is good to watch. Their achievements, especially over the past four years of big wins, speak for themselves.

Even after yesterday's drawn game, Dublin remain very much the team to beat and their football skills and sporting approach deserve acclaim.

In their favour too is the history of replays favouring the side with the greater record of success.

They can also reflect on having had to overcome the loss of a player to a sending off, leaving them in a battle with just 14 men for much of the contest.

Let us also salute the minor players from Cork and Galway who served up a top-class opening game which went to extra time before the two sides could be separated.

That, combined with some Champagne football in the senior game, will serve to answer some unduly gloomy critics who more recently can only find fault with the game of Gaelic football.

In the end, the day belonged to the youngsters from Cork bringing some consolation to avid Cork football fans who have suffered more than their share of reverses in recent years.

So the scene is set for a replay at Croke Park at 6pm on Saturday week, September 14. We all hope for another exhilarating game between two splendid teams. Bring it on!

Irish Independent

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