Fennell the main attraction in Dubs charity match
DUBLIN 8-3, KILMACUD CROKES 6-4
THE last time his team conceded five goals, the slings and arrows of outrageous criticism found purchase in Pat Gilroy's hide. Last night in Parnell Park, they let in six and he exited the pitch to a hero's reception.
Last night's charity challenge in aid of Temple Street Hospital and Crosscare was certainly Dublin's worst defensive display of the year but in fairness, what chance had they got against a rampant Rory O'Carroll?
The man who, like fellow All-Ireland winners, brother Ross and Craig Dias, lined out for Crokes, and upon clipping the game's first point, immediately goaded his county mates by kissing his club's crest.
Dublin had the answer, though, in Eamonn 'The House' Fennell, who took to the match like a clown to a circus. He blasted four goals into the Crokes net and drew more 'oohs' and 'aahs' for his various acrobatics than Paul McGrath did in Giants Stadium.
Fennell has had his best season for Dublin in some time this year but will perhaps now always be remembered for his epic performance last night in Parnell Park.
Much like the 1953 FA Cup decider is forever known as 'The Stanley Matthews Final', for the great Blackpool winger's majesty in Wembley that day, so too will Dubs smile and tell their kids about the time they attended 'The Eamonn Fennell post-All-Ireland winning challenge match for charity'.
Cartwheels, DJ-ing celebrations, hoisting Philly McMahon up on his shoulders and refusing to be substituted were, besides the avalanche of goals, Fennell's main contributions, on a night when the entire adult population of the ground might have failed a breathalyser test.
Studiously, Gilroy observed from close quarters as he played in a two-man full-forward line with his new clubmate Fennell and clipped a couple of neat points.
Understandably, the ground buzzed every time Gilroy touched the ball but he displayed a shocking lack of interest in tracking back or making tackles.
How Bernard and Alan Brogan must have seethed.
"It was very, very lacking in intensity," Gilroy commented dryly but wholly accurately afterwards.
Yet the greatest roar on the night was reserved for the introduction of John 'The Bomber' Costello, Dublin GAA's chief-executive and goal-hatcher extraordinaire.
At that stage, though, the game was won and Paddy Carr will have serious reservations now about a defence that conceded eight goals so close to the resumption of the Evening Herald Dublin SFC.
"Disappointed" was Costello's reaction. Cryptic, given that Dublin had won.
"Gutted. I came on too late. The game was in the melting pot."