At Croke Park, Brian Fenton, Ciarán Kilkenny and Dean Rock wore the expressions of guys who had been transferred without warning from Real Madrid to Wycombe Wanderers.
watched the game with a crowd of Knockmore men. Before the throw-in, a Westport man said: ‘How did the Leinster game end? Damien Martin said: “I thought the Railway Cup was abolished.”
Which made the Knockmores laugh. Damien is an excellent game tipster. He also drives the only environmentally friendly van in Ireland. I had a lift with him once. It’s a 20-year-old Volkswagen.
There are nettles growing through the shifter and moss growing through the side panels. I said, “Won’t you spray those weeds?” He said, “If I did, I wouldn’t qualify for the carbon subsidy.
“Dublin isn’t going anywhere under Dessie,” he said, “Mayo by four or five.”
It’s impossible to improve on perfection, but even so, this Dublin team is a disorganized mess. Up front they have no teamwork and as a result they never looked like they could win.
Dessie Farrell’s big idea was to take Ryan Basquel off midway through the second half and replace him with Jonny Cooper when they were five points behind, which prompted a groan from Dublin supporters, one of whom asked if he would bring in Jimmy Keaveney next.
Dublin, with no clear idea of how they wanted to play, quickly degenerated into a side that will play in Division 2 next year. In the first five minutes alone they kicked the ball three times, with Niall Scully, Ryan Basquel and Michael Fitzsimmons appearing to make their debuts.
I counted the number of times they kicked the ball in the 70 minutes, but out of respect for them I leave that to their video analyst.
Mayo didn’t exactly relish Dublin’s misfortune, but they certainly had fun and played with excitement and a sense of adventure that’s completely absent from the Dessie Dubs.
There was great joy when Kilmeena’s Jack Carney scored his first-half goal. A fortnight ago, he won the All-Ireland junior final with his club.
On Saturday night, on his debut for his county, he scored the killer goal, although it took a lucky rebound off the keeper’s head to cross the line.
More fun followed when Knockmore’s Aidan Orme, a fantastic, modest and respectful youngster, scored the second goal after a disconcerting one-two with Ryan O’Donoghue, who strove manly but otherwise had a of those nights stuck in quicksand. .
At halftime, at 2-6 against 0-9, it was over. Dublin had no plan, Ciarán Kilkenny couldn’t win on his own and Mayo was having fun.
The start of the second half symbolized this match. Brian Fenton won the throw-in, advanced solo, then threw the ball directly to Lee Keegan. Lorcan O’Dell was brought in and with his first contribution dutifully kicked the ball into the goalkeeper’s hands.
Niall Scully delivered a terrible kick (at least 10 meters wide). Mayo then did things in Dublin that teams hadn’t dared to do in a decade, but they had better get used to it.
A word on Rob Hennelly. He was superb. He suffered terribly on the big days at Croke Park. Here he made a cat-like save from O’Dell in the 47th minute, kicked two magnificent long-range runs and generally played like an MVP.
Perhaps the fact that he is no longer in the shadow of the great David Clarke has transformed him. I prefer to think that he has transformed. Right now, he’s the best goalkeeper in the country, although the tough days are still ahead.
The game ended with Mayo not in full control but in their own messy way, showing us that they have great potential, exemplified by their cornerback Michael Plunkett, who moved forward to score two superb points.
“I don’t like to say I told you that,” Martin said at the final whistle.