Dublin city centre alive as countdown to final nearly over
THE countdown to throw-in has begun, Dublin city centre is alive this afternoon.
It is the game most agree is the most fitting line-up to sign off on this year's Championship - Dublin versus Mayo in the All-Ireland football final. The two best teams in the land, by common consensus, and the occasion will be adorned by an atmosphere that will not be rivalled anywhere in the world today.
The Indian Summer promised during the week has arrived right on cue too, and it's hard to escape the conclusion that everything is coming together perfectly and we will get the sort of game we wish for.
It is hard to remember seeing such a large and expectant crowd outside Croke Park so early on the day of an All-Ireland final. Mayo fans young and old have been gathering in huge numbers around the stadium for several hours now.
For many, this is a familiar feeling - a trembling mixture of hope and dread; hope that this will finally be the year when the county's enormous hunger for this one much longed-for crowning moment will be realised, and dread that it won't. Dublin's massive and vocal support has been less conspicuous so far but of course Mayo will be in early anyway to cheer on their minor team in the curtain-raiser against Tyrone.
With just hours to go before the talking and endless rounds of predictions will be set to one side, it's still a contest that is so close to call. Our Independent.ie experts couldn't be separated this week, so maybe - just like the hurling final between Cork and Clare two weeks ago - one game may not be enough to decide this year's final. Time will tell, because the time for talking is nearly over . . .