Well the performances against Armagh and especially Tyrone in 2010 demonstrated a very new attitude and belief. The semi-final defeat was that we ran out of options and out of steam a bit, Cork had us under siege for most of the second half. And we were unlucky, so I can see how they would have used that for motivation and belief the following year. The league final collapse was a starnge one, the substitutions almost seemed premeditated but that was the hopeful outlook, deep down I didn’t believe that, hardly anyone did.
The performance against Tyrone in 2011 gave us belief that we had a seriously good team, and that Connolly could be the player we had hoped he might for years. And the manner of the win against Donegal I feel worked so well for us on several levels. Apart from anything else it broke the semi-final losing sequence, and it left us as big underdogs for the final. So we had a seriously good, and ravenously hungry team going in against Kerry as big underdogs, an ageing great Kerry team who at 64 minutes in looked like cruising to victory.
They absolutely got a bit complacent with backs up the pitch going for the kill, maybe going for the glory, and the lost possession (after a fumble) before our goal was careless. In fact if Young hadn’t fumbled that simple pass, the opportunity for the interception would never have arisen, and with Kerry breaking forward in space, it’s very likely they would have got another score. Incredible how things turned from that moment, Young must have been a bit haunted by it after.
In hindsight we can look at the fact that for nearly 20 minutes of that second half we couldn’t catch a break from Dublin Joe or just a break in general, Kerry won every single ball or we gave them away. So it wasn’t that we were out on our feet, or not good enough. In hindsight. But the discipline of the backs and the team in general to not panic and not push up exposing ourselves to killer counter-attacks when defeat started to look likely was one of Gilroy’s and the team’s biggest achievements, the hard lessons of 2008 & 2009 bearing fruit. And a collective non-acceptance of being 2nd best anymore.
The fight-back against Mayo from 10 points down in 2012 also proved that. MDMA was heroic, and if BBs goal chance had gone in we were looking at the greatest comeback in history. But we would have lost to Donegal in that final, so just as well. Funny to think of all the water that has flowed under the bridge since we came out the right side of that unbelievable semi-final in 2011.