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Kevin Cassidy

KEVIN CASSIDY: Maybe in defeat Dublin will get their due respect

ALL good things must come to an end. Dublin suffered their first defeat in over six years in championship football last Saturday evening in what was a truly epic encounter against arch rivals Mayo.

All the talk in the lead up to the game was about how this could perhaps be the one game where Mayo might outclass and outfight the Dubs. I have to admit that last week I felt that this Dublin team were gearing themselves up to turn in another massive performance just at the right time.

If you look back over their performances all year, they just did enough in most games to get by but to me looking in I felt that it was a case of them simply making sure they got over the line without ever setting the world alight.

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I said here last week that I felt that they had their timing spot on and expected them to turn in a massive performance against Mayo last Saturday night and reach yet another final. As it turned out, it was Mayo who turned in the heroic display.

Let’s not get away from the fact that it looked like Dublin were just going to do as they have done in all the previous games and just simply stroll to another victory.

They had the chances to do just that, but the Mayo players had other ideas.

Massive credit must go to James Horan and his band of warriors for their never-say-die attitude. The manner in which they clawed their way back into the contest was simply amazing. Any other team in that position and that far behind this great Dublin team simply fades away but not this Mayo team.

I’m not sure if it’s the years of hatred and constant battles with Dublin, but this Mayo team seems to feed off that sort of energy and the bigger the hill the faster they seem to climb it. As an outsider looking in, I thought the loss of Cillian O’Connor would be the grain of rice that tipped the scales in Dublin’s favour, but credit to this Mayo team because their younger players stood up and were counted and it gives them a great platform moving forward.

We will have plenty of time to talk and analyse Mayo in the lead up to the final so for now all that’s left to do is to congratulate them on an epic performance and wish them all the very best over the next week or two.

When I think about this great country of ours I struggle to find any negatives with it. We have our culture, our heritage, our language and our scenery. But if I was to nit-pick, then the biggest negative we have as a people is the constant need to see those at the top fall.

After Saturday night’s game, Dublin received an unbelievable amount of criticism which I think is harsh and very unfair. This is a team who transformed the way the game is played and brought so much joy not alone to their own people but to lovers of Gaelic football in general.

I have absolutely no problem in saying that this Dublin team is the greatest football team I have ever seen and probably is the best team I am likely to ever see again. People talk about the great team of Kerry‘s golden years but, for me, this Dublin team is simply on another level.

Now that they have finally been beaten perhaps we will all sit back and appreciate just how much they have done for Gaelic games both on and off the pitch. They dynasty was built based on being humble and grounded and that is their biggest achievement in all of this.

They will no doubt be hurting this week but I have absolutely no doubt that they will freshen up the body and freshen up the minds over the winter and we will see them back challenging next year again.

We had no shortage of action on the pitch last weekend but we also had no shortage of action and controversy off the pitch either.

Since I spoke about the issue last week, Croke Park have made the correct decision and awarded another week to the Tyrone team in order to allow them to prepare as best as possible. I think that this is the most sensible decision to take and also great credit must go to Kerry for coming out and saying that they were willing to give Tyrone another week.

Both teams can now fully focus on the game and on All-Ireland final day we will be left with the best two teams in the country battling it out for that much-sought after crown. Whoever wins, there will be no question marks hanging over it because everyone was given an equal chance of winning it.

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