Sunday 19 August 2018

Kerry '01 still top the flops

FOUR days after the ultimate ambush, Dublin folk are still trying to make sense of last Sunday.

To help them through the trauma, here's one consoling thought ... by no means was this the worst failure of a defending All-Ireland SFC champion in the 'back door' era, merely the most unexpected.

By our estimation, the first year of the qualifiers remains the debacle benchmark: Kerry losing their crown, maybe even their aura of 'Kerryness', when routed by 15 points. That semi-final ended with a Meath chorus of 'Olé Olés' echoing around Croke Park.

Next up was Donegal in last year's quarter-final. Statistically this was worse (Mayo, slowing up, won by 16 points) but Curve Ball still contends that Kerry's was the more spectacular implosion, given they only scored five points and factoring in the injuries, fatigue, etc, that left Donegal prime candidates for the slaughter.

INVINCIBILITY

What made last Sunday different was context: Dublin's 1/9 favouritism, the pre-match perception that they simply couldn't lose, and their initial exhibition of this putative invincibility.

After 27 minutes, they led by five points and it should have been more. Yet after 48 minutes, they trailed by eight. A 13-point swing in 21 minutes represents shock-and-awe on an epic scale.

The good news for all you 'Blue Monday' disciples is that the world didn't end last Sunday. Kerry took a few more knocks but recovered to reclaim Sam in 2004. And Donegal are back in another final, 13 months after Armageddon.

Conversely, here's a reality check for the delirious Donegal masses. Fresh from embarrassing Kerry, Meath were gutted by Galway in the '01 final while the Mayo marauders of August 2013 suffered more All-Ireland pain a month later.

Conclusion: the final is 17 days hence, not last Sunday.

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