Friday 17 November 2017

Lets give our football heroes the credit that their efforts deserve


TWO WEEKS ago after the Irish Soccer team achieved an unexpected draw away to Russia; in his excitement at the result achieved FAI Chief Executive John Delaney threw his tie into the Irish supporters.

After the heroics of the all finalists in Croke Park over the last three weekends, as a comparative gesture Christy Cooney could have been arrested for streaking in front of the Hill 16 crowd yesterday.

The commitment, passion and excitement created in all finals by a wonderful group of amateur players, has been a pleasure to watch.

Too often we criticise the styles of play, the rules and how they are applied and over analyse the performances of our top players. What we tend to forget is that after most games these people are up for work the next morning. While they have to prepare themselves and live a similar lifestyle to full time athletes, they have to balance that with earning a living. So let's not be too harsh and give them the credit they deserve.

There were no complaints about the rise in ticket prices at Croke Park last Sunday, as patrons were treated to two of the most entertaining All-Ireland football finals in decades.

Tickets were in unprecedented demand, but those lucky enough to get them received unbelievable value for money. The minor curtain raiser was a great start to the day, as Tipperary fought back to beat a fancied Dublin team by the minimum margin.

This game had everything and included some of the finest scoring ever seen in an All-Ireland final at any grade.

There is something special about the minor grade particularly on finals day, and it is very rare that we do not see a close game. These games usually show what is good about Gaelic football.

Teams seem to play with more openness and honesty, and their natural abilities are not stifled by negative tactics and game plans. Both teams deserve great credit for the way they played and it was a fairy tale end to the season for Tipperary as they won their first minor football title in 77 years. They did it the hard way too by beating all the top teams in Munster along the way.

The eagerly anticipated senior final surpassed all expectations, with a full blooded and whole hearted effort from both sides. It ebbed and flowed, Dublin showing the better finishing power in the first half to lead at half time.

The expected Kerry comeback materialised in the second half, as they powered through their opponents to force their way in to the lead by four points with only eight minutes remaining.

At this stage you felt that one more score would have wrapped it up for the kingdom. But this Dublin team do not lie down, whereas in other years they would have capitulated. If Croke Park had a roof it would have been lifted off by the roar that greeted the Dublin goal by Kevin McMenamin to bring them back in to the game. It was a great finish and the timing could not have been better. Two more points put the Dubs in front before Kieran Donaghy scored a magnificent equaliser for Kerry. Nobody, especially GAA headquarters would have begrudged both teams a draw and the chance to see them battle again.

But in the most dramatic ever finish, Cool Hand Luke aka Stephen Cluxton, calmly stroked the most difficult kick of his life over the bar to help win the cup for Dublin. His immediate reaction and his demeanour after the game showed us one thing though…he will never make a forward. Any self-respecting forward getting a winning score like that should have been doing cartwheels towards Hill 16. Well done to Dublin they deserved their victory on the day.

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