Tuesday 28 March 2017

Kevin McStay: All Ireland final didn't pan out the way we thought

Dublin players, from left, Cormac Costello Ciaran Kilkenny, Diarmuid Connolly and Davy Byrne celebrate after the game
Dublin players, from left, Cormac Costello Ciaran Kilkenny, Diarmuid Connolly and Davy Byrne celebrate after the game
Dublin’s Philly McMahon and Rory O’Carroll tackle Kerry’s Kieran Donaghy during the All-Ireland SFC Final

Who would have thought that Dublin simply had to score goals to beat Kerry in a final? Well it turns out we all thought that! In the end, Jim Gavin took charge of a winning Dublin team who failed to score a gaol in a championship game under his tenure for the first time.

• Who would have thought Kerry might only score four points from play (and in total) in an opening half of football? And then repeat that dose in the 2nd half?

• In game management the final 8 or nine minutes before half time can be a critical period when minds and bodies begin to turn to the short whistle and the sanctuary of the dressing-room. In that period the platform to winning a game can be constructed and that's exactly what Dublin did with four terrific points in just under 8 minutes of football. From level pegging in the 27th minute to double scores in the 35th.

• So, does this make the current Dublin team the leader of the pack in terms of greatest ever to represent the capital? In the past five seasons the Dubs under Pat Gilroy and Jim Gavin (inset)have won 3 All Irelands, 5 Leinsters, 3 NFLs and of course lost the 2012 semi-final to Donegal and the 2011 NFL final too ……… some record! The super Dubs of the 70s (1974 - 1979) won 3 All Irelands, 6 Leinsters, and 2 NFLs. They also lost 3 All Irelands and 2 NFLs. Impossible to compare across eras and decades really, so we'll call it a draw

• If you think the GAA has a problem with the way time-keeping is accounted for in major games, you would be correct. In a match that lasted 76 mins + 40 secs in total, it was out of play/stopped for 32 mins + 08 secs. Almost half the game

• And finally, the kick outs did not play as big a role as we thought they might. Dublin won 12/19 (63%) and Kerry won 14/24 (58%) - low numbers when you think what they had planned for.


Coldrick's Donaghy penalty call spot on

Dublin’s Philly McMahon and Rory O’Carroll tackle Kerry’s Kieran Donaghy during the All-Ireland SFC Final

When you want only an excellent result in whatever venture you choose, whether business, sporting or otherwise, one almost guaranteed requirement is to surround yourself with excellent people. That way if the idea is any way reasonable these calibre of people will ensure it is successfully executed.

Cheap lesson then for those tasked with appointing match officials for Gaelic football's biggest day. Well done to the Central Referees Appointment Committee (CRAC - great acronym) who went for the two best referees this season to officiate at the senior and minor final. The easy option of course would be to give the senior job to the guy who had given the service and was next on the list - the 'senior man' if you like. And the minor gig - sure give that to some up and coming young fella.

There is simply too much at stake and too much happening at speed in the modern game to take these sort of chances with appointments. David Coldrick (senior final) and David Gough (minor final) were by some distance the two best referees in the 2015 championship and their respective performances last Sunday confirmed that.

Coldrick had one difficult call to make - the possible award of a penalty to Kieran Donaghy near the end of the game. The Sunday Game team watched footage of the incident at least 10 times and from various camera angles, but on balance felt no need to highlight it any further. So, in desperate weather conditions the Meath whistlers had superb games and it was a single call by David Gough that highlighted their overall excellence.

A beautiful pass inside set a Kerry minor attacker in on goals and though clearly fouled Gough allowed the advantage rule to kick in the hope the loose ball might be finished off. When it wasn't, he called play back, awarded the penalty and issued a black card to the Tipp defender. Even though the game was long won by Kerry, Gough still wanted the perfect performance. Impressive stuff.


Five Dubs in my team of the year

The Sunday Game Team of The Year (TOTY) selection at the end of the season is always much anticipated. It's a kind of forerunner to the All Stars, a bit like The Emmys and The Oscars!

But because we are a loud-mouthed, opinionated and stubborn lot the debate can become heated and yet despite all that, we have an excellent track record of getting the team 'right' or as close to 'right' as makes little difference.

I think a difference in two personnel at most would mark the scale of difference between the two overall selections and working under the time constraint of a couple of hours post the final, that's not a bad strike rate.

But no selector ever gets his way entirely so, for the record, here's my selection for the 2015 TOTY:

1. Brendan Kealy

2. Shane Enright

3. Rory O'Carroll

4. Philly McMahon

5. Lee Keegan

6. Ronan McNamee

7. Jack McCaffrey

8. Anthony Maher

9. Mattie Donnelly

10. Diarmuid O'Connor

11. Ciarán Kilkenny

12. Donnachadh Walsh

13. Conor McManus

14. Aidan O'Shea and

15. Bernard Brogan

I wouldn't mind having that 15 to prepare and coach for the 2016 season! Hardly much need to have any systems in place to ensure victory. Indeed the only thing you might need is sufficient supply of cigars and brandy on the side line as you sat back and admired the quality of their play.

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