Wasn’t sure where to put this, mods please move if you have a better place.
There’s so many talking points from the biggest games in the last few years alone that you only really get to notice or think about when you watch the games back in detail. Naturally I’m biased but here’s a few things I found very debatable or noteworthy from the 2016 final replay on a detailed rewatch:
The replay was coloured by the drawn game in many respects, not surprisingly. After all the dirt and off-the-ball stuff from the first day, and the media prelude and reactions (remember the ‘debate’ about Keegan and Connolly, the media and commentators lauding Keegan to the high heavens for what a great job he was doing, and the ex-Dublin players weighing in about what wasn’t being dealt with etc), it was clear the second day that the ref was trying to be very tight on anything out of order. Hence alot of frees given, no excuse of weather conditions, and the black card incidents.
Late in the first half, Keegan got the brilliant goal (surprised one of at least two Dublin defenders didn’t make some contact with him, maybe just simply the pace of the run), and Cooper gets clattered with what looks like a dig in the ribs by one of the O’Connors after. Nothing is done, and straight from the kickout, Cooper gets possession and loses it, then holds his man from getting up by grabbing an ankle, black card.
I don’t think that would have happened if the umpires/ref had dealt with the previous incident properly. (and before anyone trots out the “Small should’ve got a black card earlier” line, that was debated extensively and the reverse angle replay shows that Small didn’t actually trip Moran, though he did clearly try to grab his leg just before Moran went down. Moran played on then dived when he saw the ball was gone. Still arguably a black card)
Keegan’s black card was no doubt a result of him getting away with alot of previous, and the attention that had been given to it. It was clearly a foul but not clearly a black card, on that particular occasion, it was perfectly close to the edge of a black card. But as he had fouled in that way so often, both on and off the ball, he couldn’t have many complaints. Incidentally Connolly’s reaction showed how he had been distracted by the whole issue, and Kevin Mac does a great job of trying to keep him out of it.
During the various scraps that went on just before HT, it’s not often spoken about here that Vaughan should have got a card for attacking Connolly (regardless of what went on just before it), and then also how Parsons came to end up with a cut over his eye. For all we know he may have already had a cut from some incident just previous but any debate about it at all has centred on the fact that McMahon gets involved with Parsons while everyone else is elsewhere. So there was an assumption that he was responsible.
But firstly the video evidence is unclear, McMahon pulls back Parsons by the shoulder to have some argument, and all we can see is that there’s an initial very small/quick amount of hands at each others hands/arms but then also that another Dublin player walks over to them. We don’t know what happened next, probably simply that it got more physical, one of many such incidents over the course of the two games.
Early in the 2nd half Mayo get a push on, including one very soft free given to Diarmuid O’Connor, who had perfected the art of going down cleverly for frees. Then comes the penalty, which was a double disaster by Hennelly, as Andrews hadn’t got control of the ball, a defender was about to get the ball/prevent any goal chance, but Hennelly grabbed Andrews’ leg and the rest is history. Needless to say Connolly’s penalty after all that had gone on, including the country’s best shot-stopper coming on to almost save it, was brilliance.
After that there was a fantastic period of to-and-fro play at incredible pace and intensity, helter skelter stuff with both teams giving away and losing possession multiple times, Dublin more softly it appeared, and Deegan giving Mayo another two nothing frees for dives by DOC. Then a major incident that was also little debated, Kevin Mac gets clearly pushed when through on goal.
Even if you can say he went down too easily there is a clear push which at the pace he was going is very likely to make you fall. Either way it was a stonewall pen. He was also certainly about to pull the trigger too which would have added to his imbalance at that moment. Deegan bottled it. These decisions in that ten minute period arguably made a 5 point difference. It Must Be Said and Geraldine both respond to the push with “great defending by Harrisson there”.
Even if you can argue it wasn’t a peno, all that Harrison did anyway was push/put a hand on Kevin, illegally. Not great defending, even though he got away with it and it prevented a goal chance, the comment to be made was clearly, “did that look like a penalty?” and “he was lucky to get away with it”. My sense is that the two of them did not want another penalty for Dublin which could have spoiled the rest of the game ‘for the neutral’.
On 52 minutes COC clearly fouls CK after losing a race to the ball with an arm into the back. Again not even a mention from the ‘experts’. From the resulting lineball to Mayo they get a point, that’s a six point difference on what it could easily/should have been. Even at a conservative review, a 3 or four point difference would have had Dublin ahead by 6, the game completely opens up in the Mayo half, and there’s only one possible outcome of that.
Bringing Costello on was a brave and masterful stroke by Gavin. Kevin had been having a brilliant year, his contribution in the semi-final was huge and lasted for the full game. It Must Be Said makes no aknowledgement of that, claiming in fact that Costello simply has “much more variety to his play”, which is like any tired old clichee about Kevin from a few years ago. The key point for an analyser there was that it was a big gamble considering Costello’s inexperience and lack of game-time, plus his lack of physicality in such an incredibly physical contest, Vs Kevin’s huge experience, his form, and his massively physical abilities.
Costello’s first point, which came from fantastic defending especially by Fitzsimons, after Mayo had got a free for barging by Connor OS, then going down and not releasing the ball, followed by a foul from a Dublin player not given to Mayo, was a thing of pure pace, balance, and conviction, with great accuracy on the run too. You could argue a two point turnover but the previous free which wasn’t negates that. Interesting also that Geraldine noticed the push on the Mayo player that wasn’t given, but not the equally obvious one on Kevin Mac just previous.
Costello’s second point arguably won the game, again pace and elusiveness, and the ability to shoot accurately from angles on the run. With a 3 point deficit after 60 minutes Mayo had to commit players forward. It Must Be Said felt that AOS “finds it very hard to get a free” after another brilliant bit of defending by Dublin, neglecting to mention that one reason why he might find it hard was because of his disgraceful dive for a penalty Vs Fermanagh earlier that summer.
It looks clear at this stage that the reason why Dublin were deservedly winning the game, apart from the extra quality and pace of Costello, was that they upped the intensity all over the field, especially in the backs, and Mayo were hanging on. This was a great testament to the hunger, mental preparation, conditioning, and of course the strength in depth. The similarities with the 2nd halves of the 2013 final, 15 semi-final replay, and subsequently the last 10 minutes of this year’s final says alot.
Very soft free to Barry Moran in injury time made it a one point game again after Costello got a third remarkable score that only he could have got. Even Carney thought is wasn’t a free. Of note is the fact that Brogan had at least two, maybe three shots blocked down, ones he used to get, but in fairness the Mayo defending and tackling was mostly brilliant.
Finally, after the ref had allowed 8 minutes of IT, Parsons lines up a big shot from the middle to draw the game, number 21 for Dublin (Lowndes, Daly?) gets in an incredible one-handed block. To have that level of motivation and concentration, not to mention the skill involved is the greatest testament to the players and Gavin.