A short while later over on TV3, leadership was also an issue. The capital’s fairweather fans booed Dublin off at half-time as Jason Ryan’s briefly-rejuvenated Wexford (who appeared to be post-‘difficult second season syndrome’) led Jack Gilroy’s latest batch of misfits a merry dance around a slippery and 30,000-shy-of-capacity Croke Park.
Hatchetman to Matt Cooper’s Michael Lyster, ex-Meath midfielder Liam Hayes said Dublin had gone through a 35-minute crisis with no leaders to be seen, while former Mayo player David Brady suggested the Dubs management beg Ciaran Whelan to come down out of the stand and put his boots back on. Well if that was to be Plan B, or A, the Jacks were well and truly banjaxed, we thought.
Three-quarters of an hour on the clock and the Dubs had just three points on the board. But no sooner had the Hill started thinning out than the unfaithful departed missed three points in as many minutes. Cue the capital’s comeback and it was Wexford who were glad to get the reprieve of extra-time against 13 men, or rather the full complement as the GAA rules bizarrely allow.
The additional period had a distinct inevitability about it and so the Pale moon is still rising. Credit Dublin for showing great character, chirped Peter Canavan, while questioning how their application and attitude was so off at the outset.
Wexford didn’t deserve to win, hammered Hayes, “they stopped playing”. Hailing “the true blues” you sang their side back into it, he deemed Pat Gilroy to be “the man of the afternoon” for “standing by his principles” – not panicking into summoning the old troops and sticking with the kids.
The man of the afternoon should have been in the winners’ dressing-room below in Cork. But once again he’s looking at a lengthy suspension. Children learn quicker than some of those handing out lessons.
*Footnote: Just as George Hamilton concluded his commentary on England vs USA by declaring “the United States have indeed secured another famous World Cup victory over England”, Ger Canning’s first words upon the final whistle at the end of extra time in the Munster SFC semi-final replay were: “Cork beat Kerry once again”, before quickly correcting himself. Micheál Ó Hehir might have been a fair man for shame-shielding euphemisms, but his commentary was famously clear-headed. Nowadays you get the feeling the mic’-holders’ minds are so full of facts and fancy phrases that they frequently botch the basics.