Friday 27 April 2018

One slip, one shot, game on

Dublin's final flourish steals the show

Now and then a friend, if it's a slow night, and sometimes even if it isn't, will replay the last 10 minutes of the All-Ireland football final. He swears allegiance to the three burning castles, but when Kerry destroyed Dublin in 2009, he texted surrender -- he couldn't take any more.

This was a year after Dublin were pistol-whipped by Tyrone. Before that were a slew of agonising defeats, a torturous catalogue of broken dreams.

Had the last 10 minutes of this year's final finished as they had begun then he'd have walked tall out of the stadium. There was no disgrace in that finale.

Everyone wants to see their team win in an epic finish, against the odds, and Dublin achieving that against Kerry, with all the associated afflictions, had no rival in capital accomplishment. And so it isn't a moment, as such, but 10 minutes of moments.

The final 10 minutes has become one gloriously choreographed moment where the ending never alters or becomes tired on the eye. But if there is a moment when the game shifted then it was when Declan O'Sullivan, a man you'd trust with your life, gave up the ball on the halfway line.

In his gut he seemed to realise the danger, to read the mortifying signals, for his reaction almost smacked of panic.

It also smacked of a man expecting better and disgusted to have given up the ball so cheaply. He went about making amends and in doing so, in his eagerness to atone, he made his first mistake. He turned his back on the ball.

By the time he wheeled around, Kevin McManamon had such momentum that even a foul was beyond O'Sullivan's limited range of options. He burst past, drew the cover and scored the goal that, in effect, turned the All-Ireland on its head.

Dermot Crowe

Sunday Indo Sport

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