Kevin Cassidy

KEVIN CLIFFORD: Clifford had decent game by the standards of mere mortals

THE first thing to do is to applaud both sets of players for serving up a game for the ages last weekend. It was absorbing, exhilarating and full of incident from the first whistle to the last. Both teams gave absolutely everything out there and died with their boots on.

We knew going into the game that there would be very little to separate these two great teams and that’s exactly how it played out. Going into the final stages of the game, it looked like a draw would be most likely result but Dublin did what Dublin do and they just simply found another gear.

There are not many things that haven’t been already said about this great Dublin team, but this week you have to give James McCarthy, Mick Fitzsimons and Stephen Cluxton a special mention for achieving something that is simply unbelievable.

These great men have now nine All-Ireland titles and who would back against them in reaching the ten in 2024?

When Dessìe Farrell (inset) went searching for the older brigade earlier in the year, a lot was made of it in the media with plenty of people slating Dessìe for doing so, but these three men – Jack McCaffrey, Paul Mannion and Cluxton – were instrumental in landing Dublin another title.

To the game itself and when you look at the full picture then Dublin were, for me, convincing winners. They totally dominated the first half and should have been further ahead only for the Kerry goal to bring them back into it.

Cluxton’s kick-outs were a joy to watch, I think he had 100 per cent retention, and then when you add in his two 45s then it’s quite clear that he had a massive impact on the game.

When we look at the kick-outs, Brian Howard was the man to make this all tick as he and Cluxton worked so well together. Howard was instrumental in that quarter-back role.

Up front Con O’Callaghan failed to get going so it was left to the returning Mannion to carry the fight and what a game he had, kicking some crucial scores.

Going into the game I said Dublin would win by two points and my reasoning was down to their squad depth. Dublin brought in the likes of Niall Scully and McCaffrey into the game at crucial stages and, for me, that was the difference between both teams on the day.

Kerry will be disappointed as they had enough changes to win but just couldn’t convert them. David Clifford had a good game by anyone else’s standards.

The problem is that this guy is so far ahead of anyone else so his standards are 1-5 or 1-6 a game, so when that doesn’t happen people think he played badly.

I want to touch on his pass for the goal as I’ve heard some absolute nonsense about how it was an easy kick pass. Let me put it like this, 99 per cent of players that get that ball in the corner like that in an All-Ireland final, their only thought is not to get caught in possession and to recycle, but not this man.

His head is up scanning for someone making a run into a dangerous area and that’s why he is the best in the game.

Kerry will be back, there is no doubt about that, but the problem for them is that now the band is back together for Dublin they may fancy another tour yet.

Next up is the club championships as teams up and down the country get ready for battle and yours truly better get off the pints and start training if he wants to make a stab at this reserve championship with Gaoth Dobhair!

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