David Gough was at the receiving end of some unpleasant behaviour from Kerry fans leaving the field following yesterday’s game but did he really merit it? Yes, Kevin McManamon fouled Peter Crowley but given Philly McMahon was in the eye-line of the referee he might not have been able to distinguish that the challenge was illegitimate. The turnover allowed Dublin to develop an attack and Diarmuid Connolly sealed the win with a fine point. Earlier in the second half, Paul Murphy protested vigorously when he was adjudged to have kicked wide, yet it appeared his shot was parried by a Dublin defender. A short while later, a borderline 45 was awarded to Kevin McManamon, which Dean Rock converted. Therein lay a two-point swing. All three decisions would have benefitted from a second look. Referees are fully behind the concept of a TV match official even if Croke Park aren’t. Their argument has undoubtedly been emboldened after this All-Ireland semi-final.
If TMOs are required in Gaelic games, then isn’t there a case too for goal-line technology? Kerry’s second goal yesterday was hotly debated by Stephen Cluxton and his Dublin colleagues in and around the small square after Paul Geaney had challenged the goalkeeper for dibs on Anthony Maher’s dropping Hail Mary. The legitimacy or otherwise of Geaney’s challenge may have been up for debate but so too was the question as to whether the ball had actually crossed the goal-line. The GAA has invested a considerable amount of time, effort and hard cash into Hawk-Eye and the experiment has, barring the very odd hiccup, worked a treat. It has eradicated what had been a regular bone of contention stretching back years so is it right then that a moment as crucial as Geaney’s goal could be left open to such questioning when the technology is available to counter that too?
A winter of contemplation for Kerry
To the victors, the spoils. To the vanquished, the questions and the soul-searching. Very few are lucky/unlucky enough to experience the paralysing pain of an All-Ireland defeat with the world watching. Éamonn Fitzmaurice has suffered disproportionately against Jim Gavin, and before him Pat Gilroy, when he was a selector. 2011, 2013, 2015 and again yesterday. And Fitzmaurice takes losing worse than most – not that anyone should boast about taking a defeat well. No-one in Kerry administration will be opening a door for the Finuge man to leave – he knows that. But there is a great risk of that happening now. He only agreed to remain on a rolling one-year agreement. In strict terms, his deal is done. But Fitzmaurice might do well to heed the advice he offered his players last night: make no decisions for a while. As he said afterwards: “We have a long winter now to be stewing over it.”
But the future remains bright in the Kingdom
It is tempting to feel a little bit sorry for Kerry - until you take a look at what is actually happening in the county. Getting dumped out of the senior championship, and by Dublin in particular, is always a bitter pill to swallow, but the bigger picture is a bright one. Kerry’s minors are just one more win from three All-Ireland titles on the trot. It’s an incredible achievement and their juniors recently claimed back-to-back All-Ireland wins too. Consider that both those minor and junior setups have virtually new personnel each season and it highlights the depth of talent in the county. The junior group is essentially an U-23 panel so whoever is in charge of Kerry’s seniors in the coming seasons will have the sort of options that other county managers can only dream of.