The curse is real. It has to be, no team can lose this many finals in a row and six of them in the last ten years. That was my first thought in reviewing this year’s football championship. It was heartbreak for Mayo, but at least Dublin didn’t win it again. Tyrone were deserving winners on the day, but the story is still Mayo.
This year’s championship was the first in about six years’ where the overwhelming favorite didn’t win it all and we can go into the winter hoping that next year will be just as open. It is a challenge to try and review an entire championship right after it is finished, and I am sure that we’ll gain a new perspective of it after a couple of weeks. As of this moment it is one of the most exciting championships we’ve had for a number of years and the semi-finals will go down in history as great footballing spectacles.
Like most years’ this championship will be a disappointing campaign for most and a good one for the few, most of all Tyrone who were able to overcome a Covid-19 outbreak in the camp before the semi-final and they can feel proud in being the unlikely winners, but also the deserving ones.
Mayo can also be proud of their achievements this year when not many people thought they could reach the final again. Especially overcoming the impossible hurdle which for them has been Dublin these last few years, and still the Sam Maguire eludes them. Can they come back next year? I would never count them out and it has to happen for them sometime.
The likes of Dublin and Kerry will be disappointed to have fallen in the semis, but they feel like they’re on different trajectories, with Dublin not being what they use to be with the lack of bench depth really affecting them and for Kerry the development of their young core of David Clifford and Sean O’Shea.
Galway will be disappointed with their year, a poor league resulting in their relegation and giving up a lead to Mayo in the Connacht final means that it has been nothing but a disaster for Padraig Joyce’s time as manager. Will another year under Joyce change anything? Probably not, but they haven’t even made it to a semi-final since winning it in 2001 and its unlikely a new manager will change that in the next couple of years’ so why not give him another chance.
For next year, it’s hard to look past this years’ semi-finalist as the four favorites for it, Dublin will come back and will be hungrier than they have been for a long time. Kerry and Mayo are teams that will improve, and Tyrone have shown they can do it on the biggest stage. It’s going to be an open race and it’s hard to predict the winner, but I have to go with Kerry with their exciting mix of incredibly talented young players and the intelligent experienced veterans.