Dublin’s historic feat, Tyrone hit by goals and McCaffrey’s day to savour

1. Dublin’s historic feat

There’s been no shortage of plaudits doled out to this Dublin team in recent years but today’s victory elevates them to another level. The completion of four-in-a-row is a feat that has only been achieved three times previously by Kerry twice and Wexford.

Jim Gavin has presided over the first Dublin side to reach that height, this success over Tyrone stretching their unbeaten championship to 28 games. Since they were taken down by Donegal in 2014, Dublin’s response has been remarkable with a pair of draws against Mayo the only blemishes on their winning streak. They’ll bask in the glow of this success but the chatter will soon start about their prospects of attaining an unprecedented five-in-a-row in 2019.

2. First-half goals change complexion of the game

With all his pre-match plotting and planning, Mickey Harte could hardly have envisaged a more promising opening. 16 minutes in, they had a 0-5 to 0-1 advantage in their grasp and had held Dublin scoreless from play. They were combative, full of energy and notched a few impressive points.

And yet they trooped in at the break, seven points in arrears. Like so many other teams, Tyrone discovered the ruthless goalscoring instincts that Dublin possess. They knocked home a pair of goals courtesy of Paul Mannion and Niall Scully to propel themselves in front and rattle Tyrone. For all of Tyrone’s early vibrancy, the match had slipped away from them by the midway mark.

3. Dublin weather setbacks and power on

Starting a match in a sluggish manner on All-Ireland final day might knock a side out of their stride but Dublin have long displayed the capacity to absorb blows and keep pushing forward rather than looking back. It was striking that they did not score from play until the 18th minute and that Dean Rock was one from three from frees in the early stages.

But then they hit their stride to overcome that early lethargy and accelerated clear on the scoreboard. That ability to weather setbacks surfaced again when they coped after Cian O’Sullivan went off injury, they shipped a goal from a 67th minute penalty and saw John Small dismissed late on.

Tyrone shaved the deficit to four points yet even with 14 men, Dublin did not panic and outscored their opponents 0-3 to 0-1 after the sending-off of the Ballymun Kickhams man. It’s a testament to their side how they respond to setbacks. 

4. Tyrone close gap from 2017 but not by enough

Despite the fact that these sides clashed in the Super 8s in Omagh this season, today’s All-Ireland showdown was more frequently compared to their last meeting in Croke Park. Dublin cruised past Tyrone last season by 12 points as they issued a serious statement of intent in that semi-final. Thoughts of a repeat will have crossed the mind of plenty in attendance at the interval today with Dublin in front 2-7 to 0-6.

Yet Tyrone didn’t let the deficit swell to double digits and allow this game to culminate in a hammering. They charged at Dublin, and while the champions never looked seriously troubled, it was notable how Tyrone kept the scoreboard ticking over. The gap was closed from last season yet not sufficiently enough to produce a seismic result.

5. All-Ireland final day to savour for McCaffrey

When Dublin lifted Sam in 2016, Jack McCaffrey was watching on after taking the summer out and spending some time travelling. When Dublin lifted Sam in 2017, he was watching from the stands after hobbling off in the 8th minute with a damaged knee that was later diagnosed as a torn cruciate. Yet when Dublin lifted Sam in 2018, McCaffrey was on the pitch celebrating.

He was well entitled to, contributing handsomely to Dublin’s success today with an outstanding showing at wing-back. His surging runs continuously hurt Tyrone and he was one of Dublin’s chief attacking weapons. The Clontarf forward looks a strong contender to be crowned man-of-the-match tonight.

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