Fifteen years ago, Gaelic football's tastemaskers were busy decrying the death of the sport. Armagh and Tyrone tossed their blanket defence over the sport, with The Sunday Game pronouncing death. Now, with more doomsday preaching wafting from a few ivory towers, we've come to realise we were actually experiencing one of the greatest rivalries in the history of the sport when Tyrone and Armagh went to war.
Today's clash at Croke Park has conjured memories of these clashes, and an Off the Ball panel today remembered the titanic clashes of with Enda McNulty, Paul Hearty, Joe McMahon, and Paul Hearty.
Among the highlights was McNulty's memory of the 2003 All-Ireland final, in which he was honest about his own "stupid" performance. His sole job was to man-mark Peter Canavan, with the ambition to hold him scoreless. In the '03 final, however, McNulty was struck by an underrated aspect of Canavan's career, which he calls "genius":
Looking back, I was absolutely stupid in that final. The reason for that is that Peter wasn't fit to sprint. His ankle was wrecked. In hindsight, I was playing with insanity. I should have moved on to Stevie [O'Neill] or [Owen] Mulligan, because Peter was nowhere near his best that day.
But what he did that day was genius. He wasn't at his best, but he orchestrated the entire attack for Tyrone. His communication was exceptional in that game.
He was almost like a quarterback playing in the forward line, always talking to the others: 'Pull McNulty out of the way'; 'Bring Francie into the corner, Stevie', constantly telling the lads when to run, where to run, when to stay, when to hold, when to play the ball in early, especially when the ball was out of play. A lot of communication wasn't verbal: signalling when to go down the left, when to take your breather if you were a half back or Dooher and you'd done your three or four runs back, I thought it was a masterclass of non-verbal communication.
It's well worth listening back on the Newstalk website.