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An impossible position for ref McQuillan

The cure, as it always has been for down-and-out Dubs, was a trip to Kerry. I was on my way back from the Dingle Races when I was given a piece of priceless intelligence by a source close to the camp.

Dublin were training in Dingle GAA field and they had locked the gates.

Presumably Pat Gilroy and his men were afraid the Kerry MI5 would spy on their drills. Ah, but sure the Kerry mentors would have more interest in the drills full of Arran Banners luxuriating in the moist but fertile soil on the lower and middle slopes of Mount Eagle.

There's a pub at the foot of that mountain, a church, too, and a settlement of only about a dozen or so inhabitants. Twenty or more All-Ireland medals are kept there in forgotten toy boxes, the pockets of old pants and down sofa crevices.

Paidi O Se owns the local pub and the extended family of footballers live across the road.

I got my fifth kiss at that very crossroads when I was in the Ventry Irish College from a Dublin girl who left me for a German boy who wore a goatee and a plastic yellow coat.

Gunter used to close his eyes when he bate out bodhran solos with about as much rhythm as a frying pan in a tumble dryer full of cymbals. How she fell for him I'll never rightly know.

Yet, I still give Dublin due praise when it's deserved.

The word is that Gilroy and the Dublin players were lovely lads, but not one sought advice. It was like meeting the Pope for a private audience and not a question asked about the Third Secret of Fatima.

Before I forget. I did meet her 10 years later in a pub -- the Dublin girl who dropped me -- and she swore I was her first love. But I wasn't her second, was I?

Dublin have the same referee who gifted them several sweetheart frees in last year's All-Ireland final.

Joe McQuillan is in an impossible position. The whole country wanted Dublin to win back then. Now Mayo are the people's champions.

Referees tend to be influenced by the results of informal opinion polls and what is known as the 'good for the game' mentality.

It happens in a subconscious way, imperceptibly sneaking under the skin, through to the brain, unnoticed, via miles of electrical conduits and receptors.

The referees, who have sworn an oath to uphold the laws of the game, have no idea that they are being infiltrated. It's not their fault. There is no premeditated bias, and it's as impossible to stop as puberty or a Leo Varadkar speech.

Whatever the psychology, Joe McQuillan should not have been appointed to referee this one. We have some sympathy for him.

Mayo will wonder if he will be as tuned in to Dublin's style of play as he was all through last year. Dublin will fear that he will be under pressure to show his neutrality by penalising their every mistake.

This year, the Dubs have played well only in short bursts. Those passages of brilliance came at crucial times, though, when they looked like losing.

Dublin need to play the game at top pace all the time. But are they a tired team? Or are Dublin trained to peak for August and September? Mayo are very good footballers and if they get time to settle, then they will pick Dublin off.


Donegal were rightly praised for their conversion from Fifty Shades of Grey Football into a skilful counter-attacking side. The experts lauded it as a new style of football, never before seen. Donegal did what the Japanese do. They picked the best design and improved on it.

Tyrone were beginning to play this way before injury and the ravages of time broke up their team and, yes, Dublin are very similar to the Donegal of 2012. Dublin may not bring 15 behind the ball. Twelve or 13 maybe.

Dublin should win tomorrow, but only if they keep their focus for the whole game. Mayo will be there or thereabouts, though, and I have a hunch a very controversial score or a confluence of unforeseen coincidences might win this one.

I'm told there will be a blue moon this weekend. Well, if that's not a sign...

Notes for the mass leaflet...

Congratulations to our sound-out cousins, James and Edmund Walsh of Knocknagoshel, who helped Kerry win the Junior All-Ireland Championship last Sunday. And to our classy clubmate Conor Cox, who kicked eight points in the final.

Irish Independent