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Friday 9 December 2016

Eamon Carr: On a fine day, Dublin sent Mayo packing and took pole position in the race for Sam

Dublin fans celebrate after the match Pat Cahill, from Castelnock, with sons Reuben, 11, and Lenny, right, 8. All Ireland Senior Football Championship semi-final replay: Dublin v Mayo, Croke Park, Dublin. Picture: Caroline Quinn
Dublin fans celebrate after the match Pat Cahill, from Castelnock, with sons Reuben, 11, and Lenny, right, 8. All Ireland Senior Football Championship semi-final replay: Dublin v Mayo, Croke Park, Dublin. Picture: Caroline Quinn

It was a fine day. The sun came out and the Boys in Blue threw a party.

Going into Saturday’s All Ireland semi-final replay against Mayo there were as many predictions as you’d get at a fortune tellers’ convention. But Dubliners woke to the good news that star player Diarmuid Connolly had his ban lifted and would be available to play.

They’d been up half the night getting it sorted so lack of sleep was a concern.

If you snooze, you lose. Every Dublin supporter knew that their team would have to be at their very best to beat Mayo, a team that seemed more dogged, resolute and determined this year.

Worryingly on Saturday, it seemed the Mayo engine had received a tune-up. After the re-start, they went ahead. Four points ahead.

Luckily, something clicked in the Dublin psyche. Often in sport, timing is everything. On this occasion, Dublin got it just right.

On came the super-subs and soon Mayo were picking the ball out of the net twice in 90 seconds. The Hill erupted.

What followed could best be described as “carnage”.

Showing no pity, Dublin proceeded to push the Mayo bus over the cliff. A bus filled with decades of aspiration, hopes and dreams.

It was a clinical and utterly destructive display by Dublin. It set up a final between two historic rivals that has the potential to become one of the most enthralling contests in the history of the game.

Kerry are reigning All-Ireland champions, with a record that’s the envy of every county in Ireland, and many beyond.

Thirty-seven All Ireland title wins equates to one every three years. That’s phenomenal.

“It’s uphill for us,” admits Dublin boss Jim Gavin.

“They’re a team full of stars. Not only on the starting team, but on the bench as well. We’ve played our full hand. Their management team were here for the Leinster final, the League final, the last two games, so they’ve got a good look at us. And there’s an expectation that they’re going to win it back to back.”

But Dublin don’t do fear. They’re in the final. And most of us can’t wait.

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