Come back Mayo, all is for­given as Walsh’s side shackle them­selves

Th­ese are farces when one team wants to play and the other is trained not to, says Joe Brolly

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Sport - - GAELIC GAMES -

SOME­BODY for­got to tell Gal­way this was an All-Ire­land semi-fi­nal. Sean Ca­vanagh said on RTE ra­dio be­fore­hand he “to­tally be­lieved Gal­way will put it up to them.” Like that was go­ing to hap­pen. Oul sug­ary non­sense.

There was no real at­mos­phere at the game be­cause Gal­way do not go for it. In­stead, they are trapped in a nega- tive sys­tem that does not per­mit any at­tack­ing flow. Noth­ing begets noth­ing. I thought of the dif­fer­ence had it been Mayo play­ing yes­ter­day and not this dull, ro­botic out­fit. What a pity we have to en­dure th­ese farces, one team want­ing to play, the other trained not to play.

In the event, the Dubs cruised through the game, giv­ing it the feel of an ex­hi­bi­tion rather than one game away from the most cher­ished prize in Irish sport. Their first seven at­tacks brought seven points. By half-time they had posted 1-9 from 12 shots. In the sec­ond half they man­aged 15 points from 19 shots. Th­ese fig­ures are un­prece­dented. No team has ever played with such at­tack­ing ef­fi­ciency at this stage of the cham­pi­onship.

They moved the ball swiftly around Gal­way’s static zone, in­fil­trated the mid­dle of it, pulled them left and right, then struck, get­ting most of their scores from the kill zone in front of goal. They played with their cus­tom­ary am­bi­tion and ad­ven­ture, ex­em­pli­fied by their goal in the first half, started with a beau­ti­ful pass over the top.

Gal­way, mean­while, played with two for­wards iso­lated, per­haps 70 me­tres away from their near­est col­league. When their non-tack­ling zone won the odd turnover, they moved the ball la­bo­ri­ously for­ward with hand-passes, be­ing har­ried all the way by their mark­ers. Like that was go­ing to work. In the sec­ond half, they man­aged 1-5, the goal a jammy one com­ing in the 73rd minute when they were 12 points be­hind.

So, Gal­way traipsed drea­rily back and for­ward in their zone, go­ing in­evitably to­wards their gloomy end. Their neg­a­tiv­ity was ex­em­pli­fied by their tac­tic of block­ing and hold­ing Dublin play­ers off the ball to pre­vent them com­pet­ing with their man for the ball.

In­stead of wast­ing all that time on the train­ing ground in a strat­egy that ev­ery­one knew wasn’t go­ing to work, why didn’t they try foot­ball? They were re­duced to kick­ing the odd high, hope­ful ball to­wards the Dublin square in the sec­ond half, like the mini foot­ballers dur­ing the half-time ex­hi­bi­tion, only Dublin’s full-backs are adults.

The sec­ond half was an em­bar­rass­ment, with good Gal­way play­ers giv­ing up since they had no idea how to com­pete. Shane Walsh’s bizarre free-tak­ing rit­u­als — rem­i­nis­cent of some con­vo­luted syn­chro­nised swim­ming rou­tine — gave the Hill some­thing to taunt and laugh at, but that was as emo­tional as the game ever be­came.

Jack McCaf­frey put in an­other elec­tri­fy­ing per­for­mance, com­ing off in the 65th minute to be plugged into his charg­ing cap­sule. Dean Rock missed two frees in the sec­ond pe­riod, but as usual, did not al­low this to dis­tract him, nail­ing the next one and fir­ing over a mag­nif­i­cent point from play. He was taken off shortly af­ter, but the im­pres­sion of Dublin’s re­laxed ex­cel­lence was con­firmed when Cormac Costello steered the very next, hor­ri­bly dif­fi­cult, free over the black spot.

Re­gard­less of how woe­ful Gal­way’s sys­tem of play is, Dublin were, as al­ways, a plea­sure to watch. They probed, and gal­loped, play­ing with verve and au­thor­ity. It was of course very easy for them, since Gal­way are so ut­terly pre­dictable and so ut­terly unimag­i­na­tive.

I have been say­ing since the start of the year that Gal­way’s sys­tem could only end in fail­ure. This was abysmal, self-de­feat­ing stuff and the Dubs — who love a good con­test — must have been dis­ap­pointed that they con­tinue to be untested in this cham­pi­onship.

Bring back Mayo, all is for­given.

Gal­way traipsed drea­rily, go­ing to­wards their gloomy end

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