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Joe Kernan: Dignified end to final was a credit to players and fans

It is now a tradition that RTE screens the popular ‘Up for the Match’ programme on the Saturday night prior to the All-Ireland football final.

It is invariably an eclectic mix of chat, music and comedy with fans of the competing teams taking part and the usual flavour of celebrities garnishing the programme.

But for me there was a particularly disturbing aspect to last Saturday night’s programme, enjoyable though it was for the most part.

In flashing back to previous finals, the cameras captured a pitch invasion by fans following a decider some years ago and to say that it was frightening would be an understatement - indeed, that particular invasion was the subject of much comment at Sunday’s game in Croke Park.

So it was with particular satisfaction that I observed what I believe was a very dignified, sporting end to the Cork v Down game when Cork players, after indulging in the mandatory celebration scrum, immediately sought out their Mourne counterparts to commiserate with them in their narrow one-point defeat. In the aftermath of some very recent All-Ireland finals - and I'm thinking in particular from 2003 onwards - players have become separated from colleagues and indeed some have sustained knocks because of over-zealous fans.

Indeed, I understand that one Meath player was punched following the Leinster football final against Louth in July.

The Down players had given their hearts and souls for their county and it was gratifying to see both teams mingle together before Cork skipper Graham Canty lifted the Sam Maguire.

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