Thursday 14 December 2017

Compelling viewing left me breathless

Weird Wide World of Sport

Dave Devereux

It's a rare occasion that I get to sit down and watch a match in its entirety on television, so I was relishing the couple of hours in front of the box for Sunday's All-Ireland final.

The good woman kindly brought the chislers off to another room to feast their little eyes on some animated masterpiece so I had the sitting room to myself and sat back, put the feet up and waited for the action to unfold.

All the talk in the studio beforehand of the long Mayo drought made me darned thirsty.

Not a drop of alcohol has passed this writer's lips for seven weeks and counting as I've seriously upped my hours of cycling and jogging in recent times, in a determined effort to get the bikini body back.

Hey, I know it's the middle of September, but it's never too early to start working on the summer Speedo strut.

There's something about watching a bit of sport on the telly that gives me the urge to crack open a cool one. Thankfully my will power and resolve, or quite possibly pig ignorance, is as strong as tempered steel.

My determined efforts of biblical proportions have already taken me well past the 40 days and 40 nights landmark, so I was never going to buckle to temptation that easily.

Speaking of resolve, the one thing the panellists questioned time and time again, was would Mayo have the mental strength to capture that long sought-after All-Ireland crown?

If the experts were to be believed every break of the ball would have to go Mayo's way for them to even have a half-chance of winning, although it turned out to be a desperate case of Murphy's Law and they still managed to stick in there, although everything that could go wrong did go wrong.

Mayo began the game with a sky-high intensity that completely rocked the Dubs back on their heels.

Stephen Cluxton hit a couple of wayward kick-outs and he was clearly more rattled than a skeleton behind the wheel of a JCB.

When the champions were gifted a fortuitous goal to get the juggernaut rolling I expected the well-oiled Dublin machine would move through the gears, but Mayo refused to lie down and were closing down with greater urgency than a publican who has just been informed that the Gardai are on the way when he's serving after hours.

At the back the Dubs were doing more playing around than Hugh Hefner, but Mayo manfully wouldn't let them build out of defence and continually pinned them back, picking off a few points when the opportunities arose.

But then came what looked like the killer blow of a second own goal that would almost have you believing in talk of claptrap curses.

Even things that looked to be in their favour, like James McCarthy being wrongly shown a black card, seemed to go against them, with his replacement, Paddy Andrews, quickly introducing himself to the game with two fine points, helping Dublin to a five-point half-time lead.

Few would have given the westerners any hope of salvaging anything from the game but they showed great grit and composure to first wipe out that deficit and then fight back from three points down with time running out to force a replay.

The quality may not have been top notch but the game certainly was compelling viewing, with as many turnovers as a busy bakery, more hits than a funny cat video on YouTube and a greater variety of twists and turns than a country lane.

Mayo will surely feel that the universe can't continue to conspire against them and they won't be as unlucky the next day, although Dublin almost certainly won't play as badly.

Breathless is probably the best word to describe the match. A bit like me returning red-faced from an afternoon spin on the bicycle or after one too many laps at the local track, barely able to put one foot in front of the other.

I need a drink after that game. Water will have to do though, that bikini body won't shape itself.

Wexford People

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