Six things to discuss about the Final
1) Can Donegal keep this up?
The commitment from the Donegal squad has been well documented. For two seasons they have given their all to the county squad and dutifully carried out whatever was asked in terms of tactics or fitness work. The rewards are evident – two Ulster titles and, crucially, an All-Ireland title. They’ve achieved what they set out to do, it may be hard to find that spark again next year with the medals already in the pocket.
2) A team full of stars
Sunday’s All-Ireland success means that Donegal are guaranteed a good few allstars. Even before the final, it was widely believed that Donegal and Mayo would dominate with awards to players outside the two finalists lowers than in recent years. Gaelic Life reckons that Paul Durcan, Karl Lacey, Colm McFadden, Michael Murphy, Frank McGlynn and Mark McHugh are certainties. We also think that Neil Gallagher, Neil McGee, Paddy McGrath and Rory Kavanagh have all great chances of being honoured.
3) Is the All-Ireland landscape set to change?
Prior to Donegal’s success, the last nine All-Irelands had been shared by Cork, Kerry, Dublin and Tyrone with no real shock winners there. Donegal’s victory was not a shock, but there progress in the last two seasons has been. In 2010 they were humiliated by an average Armagh side in the qualifiers. Ten of the players who featured that day were involved against Mayo. Jim McGuinness implemented a change in mindset and in record time a county was transformed. What’s to say that the same couldn’t occur in different counties and teams like Cavan, Laois or Galway could be challenging in a couple of years? McGuinness has shown that anything is possible.
4) The days of pitch invasions are over for good
Donegal fans were as euphoric as Croke Park has seen in a long time – and they still didn’t make it to the pitch. Not one fan breached the stewards’ lines at the weekend, and it seems that will be the way of it. The Gaelic Life team have different opinions on the matter, but the sight of Paul Durcan standing in goals while Jim McGuinness’s son Mark Anthony took a penalty on him at the Hill 16 end was an example of the freedom afforded to the players to enjoy the moment instead of breaking their way through throngs of supporters. The back-slapping can wait to the homecoming.
5) An All-Ireland moment
The GAA is littered with memorable moments. From Seamus Darby’s goal in 1982 to Maurice Fitzgerald’s sideline in Tralee. The GL team feel that the embrace between Martin McHugh and his son Mark at the full-time whistle will enter folklore. A very emotional moment, it is sure to make the highlight reel on many shows in the coming years. It really epitomised what the triumph was about.
6) Maurice Deegan sets the tone
It was very evident that Mayo were hyped for the occasion, and they were the aggressors, physically, in the opening quarter. Maurice Deegan decided to flash the yellow card rather than let the game settle and this disrupted Mayo. James Horan’s side had four players booked in the first half, Donegal had one – Eamon McGee – and even that was harsh.
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