Friday 15 December 2017

Paul Curran: McMahon masterclass sets tone for super Dubs

Philly McMahon, Dublin
Philly McMahon, Dublin

A REPLAY can often take on a life of its own and can sometimes turn out to be totally different than the drawn game and that's exactly how it panned out on Saturday.

The drawn game, although exciting and a hugely intensive affair and at times threatened to boil over, the replay was played in the correct spirit and that made for a terrific spectacle.

It looked at times that there were two different teams playing as both sets of players abandoned the negative tactics and the pulling and dragging and that allowed the game to breathe and produce some of the best football seen this year.

The first half in particular saw an exhibition of point-kicking from both teams as one team attacked the other until the ball went dead and the process started all over again.

I cannot remember a better 35 minutes football in a very long time and it was probably fitting that the teams went in at the break all square and that set it up nicely for the second period.

Paddy Andrews was on fire and he chipped in with 40 percent of his team's first half scores. He is having a great season and has always threatened to produce this kind of performance.

There were other outstanding scores from Bernard Brogan, who got the ball rolling in the opening minutes and Ciarán Kilkenny who continues to improve with every game.

Of course Mayo too were producing the outrageous with great scores of their own from the O'Connor brothers and Barry Moran. Mayo led by two midway through the first half but the Dublin forwards looked very dangerous with every attack.


Despite all the outstanding attacking play the half only produced one clear cut goal opportunity but Philly McMahon shot over when he probably should have settled on it and brought his Ballymun club-mate Dean Rock into the play.

Having said that McMahon for me was Dublin's man of the match and his performance over the two days has surely secured his first All Star award. He gave Aidan O'Shea no oxygen again on Saturday and still managed to get up and score a goal and two points.

O'Shea brought a huge reputation into both games but only managed a single point in over 140 minutes of play and that one score was handed to him on a plate last Saturday.

That tells us a lot about the defensive quality in this Dublin set up but it also tells us how inept the Mayo tactics were over the two games. The long ball just didn't work and the fact that there was no Plan B was a sad reflection on the Mayo management team.

They will argue and maybe rightly so that with 20 minutes to go they were in control. They led by four points at that stage but perhaps the real turning point came when Lee Keegan missed an easy chance to extend the gap to five but his tame shot fell into Stephen Claxton's arms.

A score at that point might well have given them the confidence to go on but instead they became far too defensive and began to retreat. That allowed Dublin to build from deep and with the forwards they have in the team it was no surprise that they managed to drag themselves out of the fire.

It was an astonishing ten minute period from the 53rd to the 63rd minute in which Dublin scored two goals and two points to lead by four and once sensed that they were not going to let that lead slip this time.

The final score of that sequence was for me the best team score of the year. I counted at least ten Dublin players who were involved including goalkeeper Cluxton. It was a score that had class written all over it and if you haven't seen it go back over the tape. The finishing touch was applied by Philly McMahon

Mayo were shell shocked again as they have been so many times over the years and I think this defeat will be a massive setback for this group of players.

It is going to be very difficult for them to go back to the well again and this may well be their last decent chance for a long time. The other major talking point on Saturday centred around Diarmuid Connolly who managed to win his case and was freed to play from the start. I thought he did well under the circumstances as there must have been a huge amount of pressure on him.


I was disgusted with the Mayo supporters who decided to boo him at every opportunity. The Kerry supporters didn't boo Lee Keegan last year after the Mayo man was released to play in the replay but then again the Kerry people have that little bit of class about them.

I was also disappointed to read Pat McEneaney's comments in relation to the Philly McMahon and Aidan O'Shea non incident in the drawn game. It was, of course, a throw away remark but it was in poor taste from a man who should know better.

I had the pleasure of working with the Ballymun lads for four seasons and I can say that they were, and still are, a totally committed group who give everything to their club and community. They deserve better.

So Dublin are in another All-Ireland final and there waiting for them are the defending champions and most successful county in history. It promises to be another marvellous occasion and a great finale.



I was disgusted with the Mayo supporters who decided to boo him at every


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