Highs and lows: talking points from a strange and memorable Championship Saturday

Highs and lows: talking points from a strange and memorable Championship Saturday

Mayo manager James Horan, left, and Aidan O'Shea after their side's victory over Dublin in Croke Park  Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile


Not to come across as an actuary here, but some spreadsheet stuff here. In 44 minutes of the second half, Dublin scored three points. In the 24 minutes of extra-time, they scored one more.

The suspicion was there, that sometime they would run out of road. And the thing that would do it was the gradual shedding of quality players around the fringes of this great Dublin panel.

In times past, Jim Gavin might have turned the head slightly to summon a Kevin McManamon, a Bernard Brogan, a Paul Mannion. Cormac Costello helped himself to three points in the 2016 replay, today he started here was replaced, scoreless, after 49 minutes, and sent back on for the last five minutes of extra time.

Mayo might have only mustered up two points from their bench, but Dublin had just one from Sean Bugler in the first minute of extra time.

The second half displays against Kerry in the league and Meath in the Leinster Championship were pointers to how the whole engine could suddenly seize up. From the first half on, the result was Mayo 0-14 Dublin 0-4. Astonishing.


The Mayo captain produced a real tour de force performance in the second half of the Connacht final to bend the game to his own will.

In any normal time it might have set him up for a massive performance against a team that has been his nemesis for so long. But O’Shea could scarcely have played such a poor game in his career.

After getting on the end of an excellent Michael Plunkett pass, his marker Davy Byrne stood off him. Even when O’Shea went to get onto his left foot, Byrne slipped and still, the shot went wide.

The worst moment, and we promise to stop after this as, God knows, we have all put in days when nothing can go right, was the mark he claimed on 22 minutes from a Diarmuid O’Connor floated delivery. It was on the wrong side for a left footer but my God, it was on the 13 metre line. It hit the post and the Hill jeered mercilessly.

After 49 minutes, James Horan took him out of his personal misery. And yet when he needed a firewall to protect against the inevitable Hail Mary balls to Brian Fenton on the edge of the Mayo square at the end, he turned to his captain.

He will be starting an All-Ireland final. He’s never been more needed.


Pushed on what he felt about Tyrone and their Great Lockout during the post-match gassing session (his own son worked his way through a can of Coke and treated the journalists to some fabulous burping), James Horan said he had nothing to say.

But what happens next with Tyrone will be something Horan will be stewing over as the team bus creeps over the Shannon and on home. If there is no semi-final next week and the GAA hold firm, then can the All-Ireland final be brought forward to August 29th?

Given the GAA’s holding statement, that they will digest the contents of the Tyrone statement saying they are not showing up this night week, it seems Sunday and Monday will be a blur of meetings and efforts to persuade Kerry representatives that it might not be a bad thing to hold off for another week for the sake of fellowship.

Naturally, a decent gate of 40,000 might also motivate certain minds.

Either way, it creates a good old circus around the latter stages of the All-Ireland Championship. And give the last couple of years we have had, there’s nothing wrong with that for the general public.

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