Saturday 21 April 2018

Jimmy Keaveney: Cluxton never lets Dubs down – he was outstanding

Dublin's Stephen Cluxton in typical action shot
Dublin's Stephen Cluxton in typical action shot

Jimmy Keaveney

MY FIRST reaction at Dublin's victory was, of course, delight, but coming away from Croke Park I could understand that Mayo supporters must have been very disappointed with losing this final.

The truth is Mayo could have been six or seven points up at half-time but wasted an awful lot of chances and that came back to haunt them in the end.

If Dublin had trailed by seven or eight points at the break I'd have been really worried but, when we were only a point down after some of them played so badly in the first half, I was happy.

And in the second half there was no point when I thought we were going to lose, especially when we got the second goal.

It wasn't the best game of football or final anyone of us has ever seen and 'dour' is probably the best word to describe it.

But I thought Bernard Brogan was fantastic. He mightn't have seen as much ball as he sometimes gets but he still managed to score 2-3 and his goals came at absolutely vital times.

He has come in for a bit of stick this year for not being as good as before but he's always a great help to the team even just from the threat that he automatically carries against any defence, and he came up trumps again.


The other Dublin player I thought was outstanding was Stephen Cluxton.

Paul Flynn, Michael Darragh Macauley were also good and the subs, especially Eoghan O'Gara, made a difference in the second half when Mayo were tiring.

But I thought 'Man of the Match' was between Brogan and Cluxton and for me it was the latter.

Teams have obviously copped on to his short kick-outs and push their forwards up to try to stop the short ones yet, somehow, he's still able to get the ball out fast and pick out his man, which wasn't easy in a game that was as frantic as this one in the end.

Yet again he came up and slotted frees. He missed an easy enough one in the first half but got another from a '45' and then the one at the end – which was a real pressure kick – look at the way he slotted that.

It was just like his winner in 2011 – Cluxton just never lets Dublin down, he's brilliant.

Philly McMahon did very well too and certainly vindicated his selection, and I thought Ger Brennan answered his critics very well. There was talk that he should be replaced for the final but he stood up very well and also scored that great point which was amazing as he kicked it, apparently, with his weaker foot!

Diarmuid Connolly had one of his quieter days but he did plenty all year, especially in the semi-final against Kerry, so that shouldn't bother him.

The young kids were also relatively quiet but it was their first final and that shouldn't matter to them. They've just won their first All-Ireland, they got fantastic experience this year and should be able to use that and hopefully it'll get them back to other All-Ireland finals in future.

Colm Boyle was really good for Mayo and one thing that I couldn't understand was them taking off Alan Freeman.

I know he mightn't have been having his best game but he was still a fair threat at full-forward.

You always need to have the option of dropping one into the square. From what I could see, Freeman wasn't too happy about being taken off either.

As we expected, Dublin had the better forwards who were able to get more scores in the second- half, especially when the subs came in.

And, despite a bad first half, the whole team hung in there and that's what you need in a final.

There's been some talk about Dublin being cynical, and their foul-count was 32 to Mayo's 12. But look, it's an All-Ireland final.

The Dublin-Kerry semi-final was fantastically open but an All-Ireland final is different. You'll fight, scrap, kick, do anything to win one.

You have to forget about pretty football in an All-Ireland final and do whatever it takes. I wouldn't fault lads for that, any footballer in their position would do exactly the same.

Irish Independent

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