Dublin-Mayo attacking ethos has done game a great service
Last Sunday, just as I expected, Dublin found a way to win their 24th All-Ireland football title.
It was thoroughly deserved. The best team usually wins the All-Ireland and 2013 was no exception.
Many were disappointed with the game; maybe our expectations were too high. Stakes are at their greatest in September and it looked like players were suffering as they carried such burdens.
Dublin's performance lacked vitality – the brilliant score-getting of the semi-final clash with Kerry was only seen in glimpses. Nevertheless, their focus was silverware, so it's mission accomplished.
On a big day, teams need their big-time players to perform and Dublin's duly did as Cluxton, O'Carroll, O'Sullivan, Macaulay, Flynn and Brogan all had fine matches.
A full 70 minutes with such big, pacy, powerful men has broken all challengers this year and the continuous development of young players, aligned with Jim Gavin (pictured) remaining in situ, suggests the fortunes of Dublin Gaelic football look very favorable.
You could not but feel sympathy for Mayo. Consecutive final defeats are a bitter blow. Mayo's players displayed admirable determination over the last 12 months, but another final defeat has brought them to places they scarcely believed existed.
Obvious failures to convert chances in the opening 20 minutes proved crucial and once Dublin got a foothold in the game, Mayo were living off scraps.
They have good footballers, just not enough of them to make the difference on All-Ireland final Sunday.
Making a difference incorporates a wide spectrum from ability down to character traits – it's why those medals are so precious. Until Mayo unearth such quality, their quest for Sam will go on.
Right now, consolation for James Horan and his men is scarce and credit for trying to play the game in an entertaining mode will hardly ease the pain.
It is, however, the story of this football year. Those teams attempting to play positively, shifting the focus from mass defence and illustrating that there is another way, have done the game a great service.
Gaelic football might just have turned a corner. We can only hope.