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There’ll be a special place in Heaven for Big James McCarthy


When it mattered most, the entire season on the line, the Dublin Captain led the charge with unstoppable ferocity. Fenton, Kilkenny, Mannion, Costello and Con heeded his clarion call and responded in kind. Right from the throw in in the second half, James won the ball. Within seconds, Dublin had a two point lead.

We wanted to know if they still had it.

This team, this incredible team, who gave us 6 All-Irelands in a row: how dare we ask for more?

They owe us nothing, absolutely nothing. And yet they rose again.

They may not be quite the force they were but when it mattered most, they showed the old ruthlessness and power that dominated the entire country for a decade.

There was a strange familiarity to this performance. The 3rd quarter, the Championship Quarter, came alive in a way we haven’t seen from Dublin for some time. That 18-minute spell after half time was the turning point for so many games during Jim Gavin’s reign. In would come the cavalry: McManamon, MacAuley, Costello, O’Gara, Flynn, Connolly and Brogan would turn up the heat and decimate the opposition with a purple patch blitz.

The names are different now, yet all still familiar. This year it is Jack McCaffrey, Ciaran Kilkenny, Paddy Small and Dean Rock coming on in the second half. Who knew Dublin would have the strongest bench in the competition?

The turning of the game came with Dublin’s second goal. Clever footwork from Mannion on the end line put the outstanding Costello in on goal. Costello’s quick thinking and fast hands put Player of the Match, Colm Basquel, through for a brilliantly worked tap in from the turnover. It was a superb piece of football that encapsulated the whole second half performance; intensity, ruthlessness and precision.

Basquel is having the season of his life. At 27, the Ballyboden ace has been around the panel for quite some time and yet he appears to have the air of an exuberant rookie who has just discovered a super power to score goals. His three pointer in the first half kept Dublin in the game when Mayo were playing all the football and on balance, probably should have been ahead going in at half time.

Costello was superb today and continues to operate at peak performance in the full forward line.

By his own standards, Con ‘O Callaghan had a quiet game. The Dalkey man will bounce back – he’s not the highest scorer from open play in this year's Championship for nothing. But with two weeks to go to the All-Ireland Semi Final, dare we just imagine – even for a moment - the prospect of a fully fit, peak season performance from Con, Mannion, Costello, Bugler, Kilkenny and Basquel?

Because if they can click on the same day, it will be the winning of the Championship.

We can take nothing for granted. There’s a lot of football to be played yet, but the potential is there.

McCaffrey, Cluxton and Mannion didn’t come back for nothing. They want this All-Ireland.

March on to Monaghan in an All-Ireland Semi Final. The dream is still alive.

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