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The curtain came down on the 2015 football season in quite possibly the worst weather conditions I remember for our showpiece game. I felt sorry for the players, the supporters, the umpires; even the referee was offered a sigh of sympathy. Some of the most sought after seats in Croke Park were all of a sudden not as appealing as they would normally be as they were exposed to the elements, with some supporters not returning after half time. Many people are of the opinion that conditions do not affect the top players and they can adapt to whatever is thrown at them, I beg to differ. Some of the finest exponents of the GAA game were left to look like they were quite literally playing on ice, sliding all over the place, and that the ball was covered in oil. Keeping your feet was almost impossible when you went full throttle, and handling the ball when it was fired at you was as difficult as peeling an orange in your pocket while wearing a pair of boxing gloves. Bernard Brogan, one of the most skilled players on view was the prime example; he spilled up to six balls in the first half alone that he normally would have gobbled up. Let no one tell me players do not mind playing in such conditions.
It might not have had the drama and frustration of how things ended last year in Limerick, but at the end of the day the result was the same and Mayo were bound for home on Sunday evening, with plenty of questions and plenty of regrets in the boot. In the past 12 months, Mayo have played in four All Ireland semi-finals (including replays both years) and not got over the line and back to the All Ireland final. Plenty time will be spent over the winter months picking over where it went wrong again and what could have been done. At the end of the day, the better team won. Dublin should have killed us off the first day when they were seven points up, but they made no mistake last Sunday when we were unable to hold onto a four point lead with the game entering the final straight.
As in every game between two evenly matched sides a number of factors will be decisive in sorting out where the winning and the losing of this game will be. We will look at a few of those factors here.
What a mouth watering clash we have in prospect for Sunday. Some of the biggest names in planet GAA competing against each other. We can now definitely say the three best teams in the country are left in the race for Sam Maguire, no one can argue against that. Kerry did all they had to do to get by Tyrone and reach another final but Sunday’s clash between Mayo and Dublin is the one we have been waiting for. The games against Dublin are incomparable especially at championship level. People all around lose the run of themselves. Croke Park is a cauldron of unimaginable noise, even deafening while wearing a headset and on radio duty. The league game in McHale Park this year between the two sides almost attracted a crowd of 16, 000, the likes of which I have never seen before for such an early season clash, which is where I am going to start. Dublin came into that game on a serious losing streak and in relegation trouble, Mayo were on the crest of a wave. All Dublin folk will tell you that game was the turning point in their season; they gave Mayo a right trimming winning by 2-18 to 0-10 that evening and went on to comfortably win the league thereafter. They have since won nine games on the spin.
Traditionally, once the starting 15 was announced all talk would move towards the various match-ups that would occur on the field. But even with Mayo announcing their starting 15 on Wednesday night for Sunday's big game, most of the talk was shifted towards "is that how they will actually line out". Since Pat Holmes and Noel Connelly threw the curve ball of dropping Barry Moran into the starting 15 for Mayo's win over Donegal in the quarter final win over the Ulster men, the chances of their doing the same for Dublin became a more real possability.
The west of Ireland is set to become a key telecommunications and data gateway over the coming months with the construction of a new transatlantic fibre optic cable system which will have the capacity to handle up to one third of the world’s telephone calls. This follows the installation of the Irish portion of the cable in Killala, last Friday – the first time a cable of this type has been connected to the Western region.
The West of Ireland is set to become a key telecommunications and data gateway over the coming months with the construction of a new transatlantic fibre optic cable system which will have the capacity to handle up to one third of the world’s telephone calls. This follows the installation of the Irish portion of the cable in Killala, on Friday – the first time a cable of this type has been connected to the Western region.
Mayo got over their heartbreaking loss to Galway in the Connacht final with a 24 point win over Tyrone in their qualifier game a few weeks ago, while Mayo were totally dominant in that game, the return to action of Claire Egan after missing the whole league campaign and the championship up to that was one of the most pleasing things for Mayo manager Frank Browne.