There was little else to do yesterday, with the rain pissing down incessantly, but to watch all the action on the Sunday Game Live. Well, that was after the ritual slaughter down in Dungarvan was over: watching that one would have smacked a little too much as voyeurism, I think. 2-9 to 0-1 at half-time kinda told you that it was all over and at least Kerry did have the decency to let up in the second half. They now face Cork – what a novel pairing that makes – in the Munster final but I think they’ll have their work cut out to regain the Munster title for the zillionth time.
The main action of the day was, of course, in Croker, a rain-sodden Corker at that, for the meeting of Dublin and Meath. (Louth finally saw off Wicklow in the curtain raiser but, like my comments here, that one was relegated to parenthetical mention what with the main event that was to follow). It was an okay match too and while the draw elicited the usual guff about “a fair result”, there was little fair about it from a Meath perspective. They had a perfectly good goal by Graham Geraghty disallowed after twenty minutes, while a screamingly obvious square ball effort from Alan Brogan just prior to the break was let stand. (What is it with the square ball rule? That’s two high-profile goals in as many weeks that should have been disallowed for square ball infringements but which were judged to be okay.)
Despite the six-point deficit they suffered in the first half due to dodgy refereeing, Meath still clung on and deservedly got the draw. They could even have nicked it but that would have been too much for the GAA’s bean counters, not to mention the salivating media, who now get to dine out on acres of 1991 All Over Again bullshit. (By the way, speaking of the fans with typewriters, Tom Humphries has four separate articles in today’s Irish Times about yesterday’s match – is that some kind of record, I wonder? National newspaper, my arse).
Graham Geraghty, the country’s unlikeliest political candidate (did the Blueshirts not recall his politically incorrect comments Down Under when they put him on the ticket in Meath East?), could find himself sitting out the replay in two weeks time as the cameras caught him twice landing sly punches on opponents when officialdom wasn’t watching. He got booked for a separate open-fisted belt later on but if a trial-by-video is instigated, he’s likely to find himself on the sidelines for a while.
Geraghty would be a big loss, no doubt, because when he’s not being a gouger, he’s a wily, talented performer, one who caused plenty of problems for the Dublin backs yesterday. However, Meath will have Brian Farrell back the next day and Cian Ward - who rescued the draw for Meath yesterday with a humdinger of a sideline kick - is almost sure to start as well, so Geraghty or no Geraghty, the Dubs will have their work cut out to live with the New Model Meath in two weeks time. This new Meath have a nice balance to them, with plenty of talented young lads suppemented by a few old hard chaws like Geraghty, Nigel Crawford and Darren Fay. If these guys build up a bit of momentum in the championship, they could take some stopping.
I thought the Dubs were disappointing enough overall. They opened well but, as has happened with them umpteen times in the past, they quickly ran out of steam and it was only the excellence of Conal Keaney’s point-taking and the munificence of the referee that kept them in the hunt. Some things about Dublin baffle me. What other county, for example, would persist with a place kicker as execrable as Mossy Quinn? For every rare one that he lands, he misses buckets and when he’s off target, it can be by yards. Barney Rock he sure ain’t.
Meath by five in the replay. And then we’ll draw the Dubs in the qualifiers.