Pat Spillane: I’ve Never Taken Illegal Drugs, But Nothing Gives Me What I Feel After Last Sunday’s All-Ireland Finals

I’ve never taken illegal drugs in my life, though I can’t imagine any drug would have given me the height I felt after the All-Ireland final.

Was emotionally exhausted but still feeling excited.

To be honest, I also felt an overwhelming sense of relief that Carey finally crossed the finish line after eight years in an All-Ireland final.

Readers of this column will know that I tipped Kerry to win the All-Ireland earlier in the year. My faith never wavered.

Before the game, I was confident that Carey would finish his job with ease.

But I got it wrong about Galway. They are a much better team than I gave them credit for.

They are athletic, have loads of speed, are well organized defensively, and have plenty of leaders on the field.

Galway played with true faith and died wearing his shoes.

I know that moral victories and holy words have no value.

What I would say is that Galway are a serious team and with some improvisation in attack, could secure an All-Ireland.

Carey deserved the win – although the first half and, in particular, the first 20 minutes did not go according to plan.

Even though all of Galway’s players were making their first All-Ireland Final appearance, they were a more composed side than ever.

In contrast, the favorite delivered the most unusual Carey performance.

They looked incredibly nervous and lacking in confidence.

Statistics support this view. Galway scored 0-5 in six shots in the first 20 minutes, while Carey could only manage 0-5 in 11 shots.

Actually, from Carey’s perspective the full set of figures for the first half gives serious reading.

He had almost twice the number of strikes as Galway – 17 compared to nine – but trailed by one point, scoring only twice out of the game and kicking seven wides.

The only comfort was that they were just one point behind after the half where David Clifford was the only player to take the fight to Galway.

As I already said, Galway’s performance had a lot to admire.

It is very unusual for two out of three outstanding players from a losing team in an All-Ireland final.

Shane Walsh was heroic with his nine-point contribution, while midfielder Cillian McDaid scored four points from the game.

His defensive system was so effective that Carey struggled to score goals.

Their defensive match-up worked a treat as well; Liam Silke did a great job on Sean O’Shea, while Jack Glynn choked Paudie Clifford in the first half.

His Achilles heel was in front. Old-fashioned though it sounds, the team with the more prolific forward always wins the All-Ireland.

The Galway forward’s performance in his last two matches was not very good.

In the semi-final against Derry, five of the six starts between them scored a point – and four of them failed to register a score from the game.

Last Sunday, apart from Shane Walsh, only Johnny Heaney scored – he scored a point.

The other four failed to trouble the umpires. It was a case of deja vu.

Another interesting statistic is that Galway made 32 strikes, but only 25 shots. Carey made 37 strikes and made 35 shots.

Galway’s second problem was also pointed out earlier – the weakness of their bench.

This meant that exhausted players were not being replaced with substitutes of equal ability.

As a result the team’s restraint and game management deteriorated at the end of the game. They ran out of steam.

As I suggested last week, it was Carey’s resilience, game management and composure that propelled him down the line.

Coming to the final stage, Carey played the game on his own terms.

Credit to Jason McGahone, head of athletic performance with the Kerry GAA, for keeping players in peak physical shape.

It probably takes three years of hard work to achieve this level of conditioning.

Mentally, players are much stronger and take lessons from the tough, but valuable, horrific losses against Dublin (2019), Cork (2020) and Tyrone (2021).

Sean O’Shea’s match win against Dublin was Free Carey’s ‘Redemption Day’.

In the end, the Dublin ‘monkey’ got off their back.

David Clifford was majestic; He is the best forward and best footballer in the game.

He was under tremendous pressure last Sunday. David Carey has been a ‘chosen one’ in football since joining the minor team in 2016.

But he was not noticed by some of Kerry’s fans until he won the All-Ireland Senior Medal and delivered a man of the match performance in the All-Ireland final. Now he has.

What has stood out from all his performances this season can best be described as Carey’s unusual qualities.

His defensive game, both individually and within the system, was excellent.

So, the work rate of all the players has also been in terms of tackles, track back and especially in terms of getting the turnover.

Sixteen of their 28 points against Limerick came from turnover.

Against Mayo, he scored 1–11 of his 1–18 total from turnovers, while last Sunday in the second half he took over Galway on nine occasions in the second half, and 0–8 from those turnovers. scored.

His defensive record is second to none. One goal in the championship, three – including one from a penalty – in his last 16 appearances.

Over the years I have written frequently about Carey’s inability to produce high quality man-markers.

Most of our defenders are natural wing-backs, very comfortable on the ball.

What’s different this year is how much the individual players have improved in terms of their body position, their feet, hands in and out, and tackling the bunch.

Jason Foley has gone from a flamboyant athletic full-back to a prolific man-marker, while Tadug Morley is now the most effective sweeper in the game.

His discipline when making tackles is top class. They won just 0–7 in their last two games in the free.

I have often mentioned the fact that in the last year

In the semi-finals Tyrone captured Carey 35 times, but five of them finished in the middle third.

Last Sunday they were turned over on just 11 occasions.

This is a significant improvement by any stretch of the imagination.

He hasn’t neglected some of Carey’s innate skills, such as walking which is part of the Kingdom’s football DNA.

He deployed it very effectively last Sunday and simple things – like kicking the ball high into the danger zone – can still deliver results.

Carey scored 0-3 from points that were the product of these deliveries.

Often in an All-Ireland final, it is the unsung heroes who step up to the plate.

Goalkeeper Shane Ryan has become more influential as the season progresses.

Last Sunday, Carey scored ten points from his restart, eight short and two long.

Though he’s probably more suited to be one of those wing-backs, Graham O’Sullivan was a revelation in the corner.

Stephen O’Brien did a great deal of the ‘dirty’ work in depth in his own half, especially in that first half when State wasn’t firing.

Also all the options offered made a positive contribution.

Finally, there is the ‘jack’ factor.

I wrote about Paidí Sé’s famous line at the beginning of the year that it takes just one grain of rice to tip the scales.

It was a ‘grain of rice’ to bring Jack O’Connor back for a third term.

He is a born winner, a quintessential player – which means players not only respect him, but they believe in him.

Don’t underestimate how important it is.

Jack was smart enough not to surround himself with his friends.

Instead, they cast Diarmuid Murphy and Mike Quirke, who have serious credentials in their own right, of course, as Paddy Talley from Tyrone.

The history books will record that Carey won her 38th All-Ireland title in 2022.

Neither the quality of the finals nor the quality of Carey’s performance will be noticed.

For the record this was a far cry from an old Carey performance. He converted only 57 percent of his chances – in fact, Galway had a better conversion rate.

The pressure they were under was off the charts. The consequences of losing were unimaginable.

The group was considered Kerry’s golden generation, but they did not arrive until the final whistle on Sunday.

What are your thoughts about the future? Did we see the beginning of a new dynasty?

Can this Kerry team be as effective as Dublin has been in the past decade?

Overall, his age profile is in his favor, although David Moran, Paul Gainey, Paul Murphy and Stephen O’Brien – who are getting married later this year – will now be taking the wraps off his career.

On the other hand, three top-class defenders Dan O’Donoghue, Dylan Casey and Mike Breen, who were the first-choice wing-backs last year, should return next year after recovering from prolonged injuries.

Joe O’Connor has the potential to grow into a top-class midfielder – and Kilian and players like Adrian Spillane and Toni Brosnan will push to start roles next year.

I believe this group could win more All-Ireland titles, but I doubt whether they will be as impressive as Dublin.

Right now, there are far more credible contenders for 2023 Sam than there have been in years.

Galway should continue its growth, while at full strength – under a new management team – Mayo will remain a force to be reckoned with.

Dubs hasn’t gone away, Tyrone will regroup with a full pre-season training under his belt.

Both Derry and Armagh will feel they could have gone further this season, with a new manager reviving Donegal or Monaghan, while Kildare could also be in the mix.

It’s been a long time since I’ve included so many counties on my list of potential contenders. So, let’s roll on to next year’s championship.

But for the time being here in the state, we want to celebrate this victory for a few more days.