A damp squib of a weekend kind of snook up on us just as the GAA summer was really rolling.
We knew about five minutes in today that Dublin had far too much for a Tyrone team who weren't ready for this stage. It was probably the quietest you'll ever hear Croke Park with 82000 people packed in.
Yesterday, there was a bit more drama, and certainly a few more talking points, but it was ultimately a one sided affair that was never in doubt. Mayo came out and got the job done and easily beat Kerry. A much better team over the course of two weeks.
But the damp squib of a weekend was all set up to make the final in three weeks all the more tantalising.
Another chapter in a Dublin Mayo rivalry that is quickly becoming one of the best ever, and this time they meet with both teams at the absolute top of their game.
Dublin and Mayo. The Super Twos next year so
— Cahair O'Kane (@CahairOKane1) August 27, 2017
Dublin have won their five games this summer by a combined 74 points. Their tightest victory was nine points against Kildare in the Leinster Final. That included a late consolation goal for the defeated team. They left Bernard Brogan on the bench for 70 minutes today. Paul Flynn came off the bench when the game was won. Kevin McManamon and Eoghan O'Gara barely got a cameo.
Diarmuid Connolly's suspension nearly caused an international incident. When he was finally available today, he was brought on with 30 seconds of normal time to go, to give the Hill something to cheer.
They are playing at a level we may have never seen before. It's a squad with 25 or 30 great players who can slot in on any given day and get the job done. No places are safe, and everyone not on the team is hard done by.
Probably one of the best performances I've ever seen from a Dublin team. And I've seen one or two since I first saw them in 74
— Neil Davey (@DubsFanNeil) August 27, 2017
Mayo on the other hand have grown through the season, from a point of crisis in the Connacht Championship, through extra times and replays, and suddenly arrived in Croke Park on Saturday firing on all cylinders and were way too good for Kerry.
The All-Ireland final will be their 10th game this season. Of the nine they've played so far, they've lost one, and were level in four more after 70 minutes. They have been tested and tested and have found their pitch just at the right time. Like Dublin, they are now playing at a level above where they've been before.
If Mayo beat this Dublin team in the final, it will be the best All Ireland success of all time given their run and final opponents.
— Edwin McGreal (@edmcgreal) August 27, 2017
So it's the perfect final. These two teams have met six times in semi finals and finals over the last five years, and all of them have been close.
2012 All-Ireland Semi Final: Mayo 0-19 - 0-16 Dublin
2013 All-Ireland Final: Dublin 2-12 - 1-14 Mayo
2015 All-Ireland Semi Final: Dublin 2-12 - 1-15 Mayo
2015 All-Ireland Semi Final Replay: Dublin 3-15 - 1-14 Mayo
2016 All-Ireland Final: Mayo 0-15 - 2-9 Dublin
2016 All-Ireland Final Replay: Dublin 1-15 - 1-14 Mayo.
Six games, nothing between them. Three wins for Dublin, two draws and a solitary Mayo win. The aggregate score in those games has Dublin ahead by just six points, and that's all the 2015 replay. It's arguable Mayo could have won every game but that replay.
Mayo know they can beat Dublin. They should have done it last year. That makes them very different from everything the Dubs have come up against this year. Tyrone were beaten after 4 minutes today. Mentally, they were shot. Mayo are never beaten. That's the difference.
It's a rivalry that needed another game. The season would have felt unfinished without a seventh clash.
It's the final we all want, and the one we needed to see. Mayo to beat the curse or Dublin to do the three-in-a-row? No need to worry too much about what's gone before.