Is control an illusion?

The Week in Sport

Dublin's Jack McCaffrey
Dublin's Jack McCaffrey

Damian Stack

Jack McCaffrey snapped up possession and off he went, taking flight down the left wing hugging the Cusack Stand sideline. It was electric and electrifying, the moment the Clontarf doctor secured for himself the footballer of the year award.

It was special because it was an off the cuff expression of the guy's vitality and talent. It was memorable because of that too. McCaffrey's run was what Dublin have, to a large extent, ceased to be - spontaneous, exciting, fun.

Dublin are obviously good, very good, brilliant, absolutely bloody outstanding let's be honest about it, but they're just not as much fun to watch as they used to be. They seek to control games, it's safety first football, frustrating to play against and frustrating to watch for the neutral.

Once they got on top of Tyrone on Sunday Dublin's tempo dropped. They played it around and took their time and picked their moments to strike. Some people have compared it to tiki taka and that seems apt enough.

It takes a technically brilliant side to carry that sort of thing off and Dublin are that. They are a marvel of coaching. Jim Gavin and his team have done a magnificent job, but it just doesn't stir the soul the way you'd like it to.

Gaelic football hipsters will probably tell us we're living in the past talking about Dublin in such terms and that may be so, but the subdued atmosphere in Croke Park during the second half tells us we're not the only ones.

Of course a lot of that was due to the opposition they were playing. Tyrone seemed oddly meek after a blistering start. The way they set out their stall in the second half suggested Tyrone were accepting of their fate.

Still it was odd to us that Dublin didn't push on in the second half and win big. They certainly had the footballers and the opportunity to do so. Instead they played their controlled game and kept the score in and around eight points.

The events of the last few minutes, however, suggested that Dublin's control might have been an illusion all along. For all their dominance they allowed themselves be put in a position whereby they were in danger - nominally at least - of losing the game.

Looking for weaknesses in this Dublin team is a pretty difficult thing to do, but this looks like one to us. Tyrone drew to within four points, they could have and probably should have brought it down to three points at one stage.

Probably we're clutching at straws a bit, but the idea that Dublin could let themselves be in a situation where the game was a one or a two score proposition boggles the mind just a bit.

Something to think about for 2019.

Kerryman

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