Joe Kernan: Croke Park chiefs deserve credit for their part in terrific final
There have been serious misgivings expressed on an ongoing basis in relation to the decision to clamp down firmly on Croke Park pitch invasions at the end of All-Ireland finals.
Many people have contended that such invasions had become an intrinsic part of All-Ireland final day and that the GAA was being too rigid in enforcing the ban on pitch encroachments.
Last Sunday the GAA decision was proved to be one hundred per cent correct.
Dublin may have had to wait for 16 years to become re-acquainted with ‘Sam’ again, yet the celebrations and jubilations following the team’s win over Kerry were not diluted one jot because fans could not mount a pitch invasion.
Indeed, the euphoria was shared by everyone, no one was in the slightest danger, the players were able to celebrate as they wished and Kerry were able to exit the playing arena in a quiet, dignified manner, that befits a team who had fought to reach the pinnacle of the gaelic football calender.
Against a background of music, the GAA rocked in spectacular fashion and from my own observations I would estimate that there were still some 50,000 people in the ground long after referee Joe McQuillan had sounded the final whistle.
To me that said everything. Even disappointed Kerry folk remained to savour what had been a truly great occasion that transcended sport and showed the GAA in a glowing light.
From time to time over the course of the championship season I have had occasion to criticise the Association on such issues as refereeing howlers, fixtures planning and disciplinary procedures.
Today, I doff my cap to the GAA. The spectacular climax to the All-Ireland series — I am including those more memorable matches at the quarter-finals and semi-finals stages in this summation — highlighted just what it has to offer in terms of entertainment value and appeal.
If the bar has been raised on the field of play in terms of fitness, stamina, tactics and skill then it has been lifted substantially in relation to the overall presentation of games, PR and overall administration — and gaelic football will be all the better for this.