We gave it all we had but it wasn't enough

Conor McKeon

THERE was a point in yesterday's match when the whole Dublin team that Pat built looked like it was crumbling around his feet.

Trailing Mayo by 0-17 to 0-7, the outcome was beginning to resemble something akin to the 'startled earwigs' of 2009 or the five-goal concession to Meath a year later.

This time, though, with their All-Ireland title on the line, there was a response.

It was both stirring and compelling but ultimately, not sufficient and far too late in its arrival.

"We gave ourselves an absolute mountain to climb," reflected Gilroy afterwards, "but in fairness to the players, they really threw everything at it but it just wasn't enough in the end."


No goals scored. Nineteen points conceded. Two damning statistics which, when piled together, aren't conducive to winning All-Ireland semi-finals.

"Once it gets over that 17 or 18 mark, you're going to be in trouble and we would have needed a goal in the second half if we were going to get something out of the game," bemoaned Gilroy.

"In fairness, we threw everything at it. It was disappointing that we just didn't have that same bite in the first half because if we had, we certainly wouldn't have been so far behind.

"I think we were quite close to Mayo's intensity but not quite at it for maybe 26 or 27 minutes of the first half and then a couple of cheap scores, really easy scores, at the very end put us into a very difficult position -- six points down.

"We continued that pattern after half-time and went 10 behind but I think we really put the screw on. We put them under severe pressure but it probably was just too late."

Diarmuid Connolly, Paul Flynn and Bernard Brogan all had good goal chances that went awry, the latter having a potential, which would have levelled the match, saved by David Clarke late on.

"At that stage, we had so much momentum that if a goal had gone in," Gilroy trailed off before praising his former Footballer of the Year, "but I think we have to thank him a lot. He was digging in and winning balls when fellas were hanging out of him. I think we wouldn't have been in the position without him.

"I think he gets a bit of a hard time. People expect him to score 2-10 in every game. He does an awful lot of work off the ball and I think he had a very honest year.

"He's been very committed. He's a guy you can rely on."

Gilroy didn't, though, have the luxury of his brother Alan for very long. Eighteen minutes was the sum total of his involvement after coming on at half-time and then leaving before the finish, obviously still uncomfortable with his groin injury.

"During the warm-up he felt it wasn't right," Gilroy explained. "He felt he didn't have the full power. We had a plan that Ciarán would come in if that was the case.

"He got a bit of a pain killer and he felt good enough to go but he just couldn't run then when he was on.

"It was a gamble, it backfired. But in fairness, when you have a player like him, it's one of those things you want to try."

Dublin now go the same way as 21 of the last 22 All-Ireland champions, down and out before the Sam Maguire is being handed out.

The result might, in the minds of some supporters, put closure on last year's heroics but Gilroy insisted there had been no negative ramifications from 2011.

"I don't think it's any harder defending it than winning it," he stressed.


"It's just very difficult because other teams get better. People are good. I couldn't fault any player for their application or effort this year. They all did everything, even more so than last year.

"Physically, they were probably even a step above where they were last year and it wasn't good enough. To win an All-Ireland is huge task and I just think other teams probably do get a bit better.

"As a group, to go out of the championship finishing the way they finished is at least some consolation. If we had gone out and played like we did in the first half, there would be a lot of soul-searching.

"But we all have things to think about and understand and learn why we were in the position of being 10 points behind but that's for another day."