Published Monday, 06 August 2012
Big sportsmen producing big performances when it really matters.
With the glorious Donegal victory fresh in the memory, it cast my mind back to a video I saw on YouTube a couple of years back when Usain Bolt met the Kerry team whilst on holiday in Jamaica, after winning that year's All-Ireland.
Donning a Kerry jersey and under the tutelage of Darren O'Sullivan and Kieran Donaghy, Bolt was quick to pick up the basic skills.
You have to think if it weren't for the small matter of the Men's 100m final in London on Sunday night then the Kingdom could have done worse than enlist the help of the fastest man on the planet in their efforts to overcome Donegal's blanket defence.
Many may point to the fact that this was yet another example of Kerry choking against an Ulster team, when the pressure came on.
But in fairness to Donegal they played the more creative game in the final third and where Kerry floundered to break through the tackles they had the likes of Mark McHugh, Karl Lacey, Leo McCloone and Rory Cavanagh able to penetrate to great effect.
In short, Donegal shut Kerry out at vital times and at the other end broke them down when needed.
To win, Kerry needed to control this game, but after a fortuitous Colm McFadden goal early on, they never once lead.
Ironically, the goal came straight from a type of sideline ball delivery that twelve months ago Jim McGuinness would have frowned upon. Playing catch-up to Donegal is a tough place to be, and the system always seemed to have the upper-hand on the so called natural ball players.
But what many of us should start to take stock of is that Donegal aren't all about fitness, speed and system and in fact have some of the most intelligent and talented footballers in the country.
McFadden, Murphy, Cavanagh, Lacey, and McHugh were players who I felt made better decisions than the so-called big names on the Kerry team.
As Donegal gave a lesson on the art of effective, disciplined defending, Down showed us how zonal marking can go horribly wrong if it isn't executed properly.
One defensive calamity after another, it probably made Down wish they had been beaten against Tipperary last week.
If we be perfectly honest about it, there were at least three defenders in the Down defence who looked miles out of their depth.
Loose marking and token tackling, devoid of any real intensity showed us that the Ulster final collapse wasn't a one off.
With the four provincial winners now through to the last four, Donegal have the toughest task in store, up against a Cork team who look pretty much invincible.
Don't write them off just yet though, as just like the big Jamaican, they will raise their game when it matters most.