Have Dublin levelled the mysterious battle of two superpower traditions?

Have Dublin levelled the mysterious battle of two superpower traditions?

Michael Moynihan asks a few different questions for the week ahead.

What is tradition anyway?

The mysterious concept of tradition is usually raised before an All-Ireland final, and usually because it’s an area where Kerry are generally acknowledged to have the upper hand on everybody.

However, before the drawn game, your correspondent spoke to Dublin legend Tony Hanahoe.

“To quote your county man, the late Christy Ring, it’s very hard to beat tradition, and it’s twice as hard to make it,” said Hanahoe.

“Maybe Dublin are on the road now to making that (tradition), and maybe they’ve achieved it.

“People accept that there are certain traditions associated with certain areas such as Kerry, Kilkenny, Cork, Tipperary, Galway, Mayo.

“Counties emerge and slip away as well. Down, Armagh, Tyrone, and Donegal have emerged in the North.

“But, like it or lump it, Dublin are going to be a traditional stronghold, which is a great thing for the city. People are genuinely interested. You have to make allowances for the percentage who follow a winner, but a fair proportion of the people who’ll be there on Sunday will want to support their team and will be involved.”

Have we all overlooked that in the focus on the five-in-a-row? The establishment and buttressing of a traditional strength within Gaelic football, though given Dublin are second only to Kerry on the roll of honour, perhaps re-establishment and re-buttressing might be more accurate terms.

It’s difficult to disagree with Hanahoe’s assessment. Dublin have dominated a generation of opponents in Leinster and seen off almost all challengers outside the province, creating a hard core of confidence within the county and making a level playing field of the clash of traditions.

The penalty is important. But is the timing of the penalty more important?

Kerry were left to rue Paul Geaney’s missed penalty in the drawn game, though even that description underplays the significance of Stephen Cluxton’s terrific save.

Clearly a goal at that point in the proceedings would have boosted Kerry’s chances — and confidence — immensely, but it was far too early to be a matchwinner. The spotter was taken in the 12th minute.

The same with Diarmuid Connolly’s penalty in the 2016 replay. Coming inside the first ten minutes of the second half, the Dubliner’s calmly-struck goal was a huge plus for the eventual winners, but didn’t win the game. Your memories of that game probably centre on Cillian O’Connor’s late effort to equalise, anyway.

More than one manager has pointed out over the years that the game can be won or lost long before the last-minute miss (or score), but there’s no doubting that a late penalty can be a dagger blow whether it’s missed or scored.

The timing remains important, though. Take the last time a penalty was involved in a five-in-a-row bid, back in 1982. Your memory may compress that game to a sequence where Offaly’s Seamus Darby hit his immortal goal seconds after his teammates swept upfield after Mikey Sheehy’s penalty was missed, but that’s not accurate.

Sheehy’s rising drive to Martin Furlong’s right came with over 20 minutes left to play. Plenty of time left.

What are those people doing on the sideline, anyway, or even just inside the sideline?

It looks like the new battleground is practically on the whitewash marking the sidelines.

After the drawn game, film clips circulated online pretty quickly of a Kerry maor uisce giving Cormac Costello a cheeky squirt of water as the Dublin sub collects a pass near the sideline under the Hogan Stand.

Significant enough to put Costello off his stride? Unlikely. Intrusive enough to anger the referee or linesman if noticed? Probably.

As is the way of these things, however, a corresponding clip popped up in what I am sure was a completely spontaneous way.

This one showed a few seconds of action from the All-Ireland semi-final between Dublin and Mayo about quarter of an hour in.

Dublin’s Con O’Callaghan is down injured near the Mayo goal as Mayo ’keeper Rob Hennelly comes soloing out the right wing (Hogan Stand side). Two Dublin officials hare past Hennelly on their way to attend to O’Callaghan but both are inside the sideline and therefore in Hennelly’s line of vision: the Mayo man can see two Dublin-coloured figures sprinting towards him and overcooks his handpass seconds later, losing possession.

It need hardly be said (again) that the margins are super-fine at this level, but it’d be surprising if referee Conor Lane doesn’t make his views on unnecessary pitch incursions/ mischievous water-squirting known before throw-in next Saturday.

What can we sift out of the Gavin-Keane teatime comments after the drawn game?

Given the personalities of the two managers involved, it might be overstating matters to describe this as a vein suitable for mining, but it was worth paying attention all the same.

Both men stayed in character: Kerry boss Peter Keane referred to the possibility of one dog getting a heart attack in a two-dog race, while Dublin manager Jim Gavin smoothly acknowledged there might have been some pressure being put on David Gough, but they also came up with a couple of interesting nuggets in their comments.

For instance, can we infer that the Dublin boss is likely to change his matchday 26 for next weekend?

“We recover as best we can in the coming days,” Gavin said after the draw, “But we have a very strong squad, and a lot of players will be hungry to get on the squad.”

There was a good deal of surprise that the likes of Bernard Brogan and Eoghan O’Gara were not on the 26 the last day, when inexperienced players such as Peadar Ó Cofaigh Byrne were. This was underlined when Dublin had Diarmuid Connolly lining up one of their potential match-winning shots late on, having played very little all summer.

Would Gavin prefer experienced players available if next Saturday is as tight, particularly a couple who could chip in a point or two between them? The door isn’t shut for the likes of O’Gara and Brogan, going by Gavin’s comments.

Gavin’s opposite number also mentioned his panel after the game.

“We got a good bounce out of our subs today and Tommy (Walsh) was one of those guys,” said Peter Keane. “What did he do? He had two shots and he scored one and missed one but set up another one so he had a good day, yeah.”

As Brendan O’Brien of this parish pointed out, however, this was a considerable understatement of Walsh’s effect: the big Tralee man could claim an assist in Killian Spillane’s vital goal, hit the next point, and contributed to Sean O’Shea’s next two points for Kerry also.

Keane’s is a different quandary to Gavin’s. The Kerry boss has seen the effect Walsh has, but is he better off holding him back until later in the game to give his forwards a shot of adrenaline and his defenders a handy outlet?

Both men were aware that their post-game comments were the first rumbling of cannon for the replay, and each was trying to get into the other’s mind by raising questions, questions, questions.

Answers due teatime on Saturday.

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