The Dublin footballers captured a fourth consecutive National Football League title this afternoon, and in truth it was all too easy.
They defeated Kerry on a scoreline of 2-18 to 0-13, pulling away late on when the Kingdom were reduced to 14 men after Aidan O’Mahony’s dismissal.
Kerry, All-Ireland champions in 2014, are generally regarded as the second best team in the country, but were blown away by the Boys in Blue. Jim Gavin’s side led the way at the break, having not moved out of second gear.
When the heat was turned up in the second half, Kerry had no answer but to move Kieran Donaghy into the full-forward line, and blast high balls on top of him. The use of a target man is not exactly a revolutionary tactic in 2016, and the Dublin rearguard were more than capable of dealing with the threat.
Discussions after the game focused on the time of year. Some are in denial of the monopoly that is the football landscape, and have been clinging onto straws stating that it’s only the league. However, it was April for both teams, and the Metropolitans were still miles ahead.
Yes, Eamon Fitzmaurice did not want to show his full hand today, but what could he possibly have up his sleeve to bridge the gap?
Kerry will improve in the summer, but similarly, the Dubs did not hit their peak today.
It could be argued that the only thing that can put a stop to Dublin is Dublin. In the 2014 All-Ireland semi-final, they were borderline ‘unbackable’ against Donegal. The Tír Chonaill men shocked Bernard Brogan and Co., and afterwards most were in agreement that perhaps the Dubs had one eye on the final.
This brings us to the point; had they defeated Donegal that day two years ago, they would now be going for a fourth Sam Maguire in succession this season. Since 2013, Dublin have won six of the seven national titles on offer.
There is no sign of the side waning, and they only going to get better. Gaelic football could be facing into a period of dominance akin to Kilkenny’s control in hurling over the past 10 years.
Many thought that the departures of Rory O’Carroll and 2015 Footballer of the Year Jack McCaffrey would weaken the side, but all over the park today, the Dubs operated on a level that the rest of the country can only fathom.
Those two departures have not weakened the team one bit.
The raw caliber of substitutes that was introduced from the bench today was nothing short of frightening, and there is not any other team in the country that could afford the luxury of not starting players like Michael Darragh Macauley, Kevin McManamon, Cormac Costello, Michael Fitzsimons, and Eric Lowndes.
This all begs the question; can anybody stop Dublin this year?
Kerry were touted as pretenders to the throne, but were shown to be far off the pace today.
Similarly, we have not seen a huge amount of evidence to suggest that Mayo, Donegal, Monaghan, Cork, Roscommon, nor any other will be capable of making the grade.
It is only the league, but it already seems clear that the Dubs are operating on a different level to the rest of the country.