Wednesday 21 February 2018

Brian Fenton has his mojo back, Dublin big guns return and king Cluxton reigns supreme

Brian Fenton of Dublin catches the ball
Brian Fenton of Dublin catches the ball
Roy Curtis

Roy Curtis

Dublin are safely through to the finbal four in their bid for a third successive Sam Maguire following a routine victory over Monaghan. Here are five talking points from the Dubs' rampant victory.

1. Stephen Cluxton stands alone as prince of the city

With great gusts of warmth, a hurricane of gratitude, The Hill serenaded its record breaking son.

For 16 years of sustained wonder, 89 games, a football infinity, he has been a city landmark:  As constant, as quietly reassuring, as steadfast, as indomitable, as eternal as Anna Livia herself.

Contemptuous of celebrity, enslaved only by the pursuit of excellence, he became The Transformer:  A man who radically metamorphosed an entire sport.

A daring soloist, Cluxton rose above the choir.

His kick-outs, uranium-enriched, carrying the deadly payload of his laser-controlled accuracy, became Dublin’s nuclear weapon, gifted the city superpower status.

Here, there was a reminder with one point-blank save that his fast-twitch muscles remain in fine working order.

2.   Tyrone will look Dublin in the eye and not flinch.

Armagh were submerged in a small, excruciating pit of Red Hand-emblazoned torment.

Tyrone – all harmony of muscle, mind and September intent – had disappeared over the horizon before their forlorn, overmatched neighbours had even turned the ignition key.

Summer’s narrative might yet lead to an epic Dublin/Kerry closing chapter on the third Sunday of September.

But Tyrone at their efficient and pragmatic best are likely to shine a penetrative searchlight on the defending champions’ credentials at the end of the month.

3.  Dublin are in rude good health.

Paul Flynn and Michel Darragh Macauley, cornerstones of the big city empire, returned to the office after long, injury-enforced sabbaticals.

Two of Dublin's most selfless soldiers, their physical presence might yet be critical against Tyrone.

4.  Brian Fenton has rediscovered his mojo

The league final was a first dip in a career that has clacked upwards like an express elevator destined for the penthouse.

Fenton strained for his 2015 and 2016 form in Leinster without ever being the familiar Lamborghini presence.

But here again he was a gliding presence, delivering an effortlessly elegant masterclass.

His standard is not remotely tattered.

5.  The gap between the haves and have-nots continues to expand

Tyrone had 18 points to spare over Armagh;  Dublin, in cruise-control, eviscerated Monaghan.

Elite-eight games, yet an entire fleet of oil tankers could sail into the gulf between winner and loser in both games.

Dublin, Kerry and Tyrone are operating on a different plain to the rest.

On Monday, a Mayo team that appears to be running on the vapours of raw desire will have its chance to expand the Big Three to a Fab Four.

Online Editors

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