Westerners have absorbed hard lessons: Vaughan
It's been 20-odd games since the Dublin footballers last tasted defeat.
The sting of being beaten is not that familiar to them, and in a run of five consecutive Connacht Championships, it meant any defeat experienced by All-Ireland final opponents Mayo since 2011 was always going to be fatal to their ultimate ambitions.
This year has been different. Galway had different ideas and took their crown out west. Has it done the westerners more good than harm?
Mayo’s Donal Vaughan answers the question.
“At the start of the year if you’d asked us, we would have liked to have taken the direct route and not lost a game. That’s not the way it transpired,” the Ballinrobe man explained.
“I suppose the one thing that would be a positive in our own point of view is that normally when we learn our lesson it’s August or September and you’ve to wait six or seven months to try to right the wrongs.
“Whereas this time it was three weeks. We lost to Galway. We were facing an uphill battle, we didn’t know who we were going to get and it made us look at ourselves, management, players, what were we doing, were we working hard enough?”
He continued: “I suppose we focused on little things, getting to training that little bit earlier, working on our skills, simple things.
“Our attitude and our workrate in that game just wasn’t near the standard we’ve set for ourselves. In every game we’re playing so far, we’re learning all the time.”
Since that defeat, they have wobbled all the way to the final.
Fermanagh came within a few minutes of victory in Castlebar, until that controversial penalty.
Westmeath had their moments in the All-Ireland quarter-final.
However, they are showing serious streaks of form.
So is there a big performance coming on Sunday? Vaughan believes so.
“To win any final you are going to have to play well so, yeah, I feel we are in a good place in fairness,” he commented.
“My body feels good. If you look at the team overall, early on, it is just the way it happened but we had a good few injuries as well and I missed the first round of the championship but we were missing a good few players.
“Like the competition, bar Ger Cafferkey — Ger is the only long term injury. Everybody else is ready to go. Genuinely there’s no one carrying knocks, everyone is in a good position.”
Dublin in an All-Ireland final. No excuses left now.