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Championship keeps on giving


NO LOVE LOST RTÉ analysts Pat Spillane and Seán Cavanagh (centre) are pictured during the All-Ireland SFC semi-final between Kerry and Tyrone last Saturday. Pic: Sportsfile

The way I see it
Ger Flanagan

WELL, who saw that coming?
Not this columnist, for one, and gauging the reaction on social media, neither did the resr of the world either apparently.
Of course, that’s not entirely true and I’m sure the Red Hand folk were quietly confident of pulling off the ultimate ambush at Croke Park in last Saturday’s All-Ireland football semi-final.
It was primed and ready for it too, slow-cooking for the past two weeks until finally coming to the boil at HQ last weekend and spectacularly combusting into what was barely-controlled chaos. Tyrone fairly tore up the script about another so-called ‘Kerry rising’.
This was a Kerry team being lauded in the media as the ‘only’ team who could beat the Dubs. A team who were averaging victories by a whopping 15 points up to last weekend, thanks to a star-studded forward line that would give Messi, Neymar and Mbappe a run for their money.
Turns out it was nothing more than an infatuation from many in the national media and Kerry weren’t near as good as they believed. Or that history would make us believe.
At the full-time whistle, I genuinely couldn’t resist in digging up a tweet sent after Mayo beat Dublin by Daniel Hussey of Radio Kerry that read: “It would be – and I can’t emphasise this enough – the most Mayo thing every to finally beat the Dubs only to lose to Kerry in the final #DUBvMAYO.”
Fair enough that at the time of writing Tyrone may have just played their joker card and declared their intentions to pull out of the All-Ireland senior championship. But hey, either way it didn’t age well at all because I don’t believe there was a person in Kerry who foresaw what unfolded on either All-Ireland semi-final day in Croke Park.
Speaking of Kerry, the bould Pat Spillane could not have put it any better on RTE last Saturday when when he said that Tyrone had ‘out hoor’d’ the quintessential ‘cute hoors’ of Kerry.
Spillane was clearly agitated by the events that led to the delay in the game being played.
His ‘hammer and tongs’ argument with Sean Cavanagh in the pre-game analysis set the tone for what would be a day of complete bias and totally non-impartial punditry from the duo.
Spillane was credible in his frustrations at Tyrone about the ‘vacuum of information’ that shrouded their Covid-19 saga. The fact that they had issues preceding the Ulster Final and bigger issues following it meant it was clear as day that protocols had not been adhered to.
But Tyrone managed the situation well from an optics point of view and came away relatively blame-free, when in fact more questions needed answering as to how and what exactly happened.
The lack of information released was like a red rag to a bull for Spillane and he let his emotions get the better of him on live TV.
But Cavanagh’s brazenness to toe the Tyrone partyline, before then trying to claim that the referee had got a number of major decisions against Tyrone wrong did him no favours either.
Many felt when Joe Brolly was whisked out the door that RTE’s coverage would turn over a new leaf.
A new beginning where personal grudges, conjecture and petulance would be no more.
We were all left disappointed though last Saturday because while the ‘Punch and Judy Show’ between the pair was – somewhat entertaining – when you consider this broadcast is funded by the tax payer, professional standards weren’t met.
But aside from the display in the TV studio, Tyrone produced a wonderful performance.
If they were greatly hampered by Covid-19 it makes it even more impressive. If not, well then it was still equally as good because we’ll never know the full story.
Their athleticism is a real worry for James Horan and his management team, who were in the stands watching. Kerry appeared the side more suited to Mayo, particularly given how the Connacht champions have struggled against systems deployed by Tyrone in the past.
Yet Mayo will go into September 11 final as the bookies’ favourites.
Isn’t that some turn of events?

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