Dublin completed the historic five in a row after a pulsating All-Ireland final replay win over arch rivals Kerry.
The drive for five can now be put to bed as “in the mix for six” gets into motion for 2020. This Dublin team are relentless and deserve all the plaudits they get. They don't do complacency and worryingly for the chasing pack, seven, eight or nine in a row is not beyond them as they are unearthing a few serious additions every year. Should they dominate for the next few years - which is a strong possibility - it will be very worrying for the future of GAA football.
The first half of the replay showed us all that was good about our game. Two teams with unbelievable forwards going at each other in a pulsating contest, one trying to outscore the other. It was fitting that our show piece game had all of the finest skills on display.
The 0-10 to 0-10 half time score was actually the highest cumulative half time All-Ireland final scoreline ever that didn't involve a goal and never before did the first half of a final have 20 scores. Lots of records were broken for all the right reasons. The drawn game was mostly reviewed and summarised by certain players not reaching their potential, big name players not scoring enough, not having an impact on the game.
We were totally spoilt in the replay, particularly from a forwards point of view. I can't imagine we ever had a final when five players scored 0-4 a piece from play. It was a sensational display of shooting, particularly in the first half. Unfortunately for Kerry, that high percentage efficiency rate deserted them for the second half.
The first half stats are staggering. Dublin took 13 shots and scored from 10 of them (77 per cent success rate ) while Kerry took 12 shots and also scored 10 of them (83 per cent success rate ) - which are off the wall percentages. Both keepers had flawless first half’s too. Kerry and Dublin had 100 per cent retention from their kick-outs, setting the platform for both sets of forwards to spring into action. Kerry also retained 13 out of 13 of Shane Ryan's second half kick-outs, which was remarkable, considering he went long on six occasions. He simply kept those long kicks away from Brian Fenton.
I was barely settling into my seat for the restart when Eoin Murchan collected the break from the throw in and raced from inside his own half at a blistering pace to hammer home a goal nine seconds after the ball was thrown in. It was a brilliant finish from the corner back who ate up the ground in front of him, leaving Kerry players in his wake. He did take an obscene amount of steps that went unpunished by Conor Lane before unleashing his shot. However Lane must have decided to play advantage for Murchan as David Moran tugged at him in the middle of those 12 steps. The way the Dublin forward unit left the space for their baby-faced corner back was a sight to behold, all of them dragging their markers out of Murchan's running path - a lesson in a selfless team ethic. I have no doubt David Moran will have nightmares as to why he didn't catch the throw-in instead of fisting it, as no Dublin player challenged him in the air.
If anything, Kerry needed to compose themselves after conceding the goal. Cool heads are the order of the day on Final day but unfortunately, Kerry's unerring first half accuracy was left in the dressing room at half time. Their 83 per cent shooting rate dropped to a measly 31 per cent for the second period. 16 shots were taken and only five raised a white flag. Dublin had a little drop-off also, taking on 15 shots and scoring on nine occasions (60 per cent ) but one of those scores was the crucial Murchan goal. On top of the five in a row, some of those Dublin players have collected their seventh All-Ireland medal, all won in this decade, which is a remarkable achievement. You can't but applaud them.
Feast of football at home this weekend
There is another feast of club football in Mayo this weekend with the senior quarter finals taking centre stage. County champions Ballintubber are up first on Saturday evening taking on Belmullet in Ballina at 5pm. You'd expect Alan Dillon and the O'Connor brothers to have too much for Chris Barrett, Eoin O'Donoghue and team mates, although the venue will suit Belmullet.
For me the most interesting tie takes place in MacHale Park on Saturday at 7.30pm. Over the last number of years you would strike down a comfortable Breaffy win over Ballina every day of the week but the Stephenites seem to be a rejuvenated club who have looked very impressive in their run to the quarter finals. Anything other than a completely committed and efficient Breaffy performance could spell a premature end for Peter Ford's team. This is the game I'm looking forward to the most.
The preceding game on Saturday is difficult to call as well. Davitts will fancy their chances of causing an upset again Ballaghadeereen. I'm already looking forward to the possibility of an Andy Moran / Colm Boyle match up. Sunday's quarter final between Castlebar and Knockmore would also be a foregone conclusion in any other year but the Mitchels seem like a shadow of the team they once were. Knockmore, boosted by a strong final quarter in the round three group game against Hollymount Carramore and an impressive victory over Breaffy in the league last weekend, will fancy causing an upset. All the same, I expect Castlebar's experience to edge them over the line.