Published Monday, 21 May 2012
You can even lead the game until the dying stages. But unless you have the conviction to see it out; the perseverance and will to win with the game in the melting pot, and the resilience to bounce back from those devastating body blows, then your talent means very little.
For the aforementioned teams, when it mattered most, they all came up short in those departments and as a result found themselves in a very 'messi' situation!
With the footballers up next week, you have to wonder where Antrim hurling is going after getting beaten in the Leinster Championship by Westmeath.
Twelve points won't win many games of football never mind hurling. A wise man once advised me that when you speak the words 'no complacency' in a changing room, it is already too late to do anything about it.
It looks like this may have been a major factor with Antrim having one eye on the next game, and players talking in interviews about All-Ireland Semi-Finals. Liam Watson looked dangerous throughout but even with an extra man for forty odd minutes, the Saffron's struggled to get the Loughguile man into the game more.
It is easy to analyse a game in retrospect but perhaps Jerry Wallace will feel that he should have moved his talisman out the field where he may have found it easier to escape the clutches of the Westmeath defence.
At six points up, Antrim should have been home and dry but momentum is a very hard nut to crack in sport. Perhaps this result was another stark example of how success at club level in GAA sport means absolutely nothing when it comes to Inter-County.
Thankfully for Donegal there was no such surprise in the preliminary round of the Ulster Football Championship. For twenty minutes, a plucky young Cavan team competed well, but an expertly converted penalty by Colm McFadden ended this game as a contest well before half time.
On the day, it was apparent Donegal were the more experienced team with the better footballers, but they also looked two or three years further down the line in terms of physical conditioning.
A goal and sixteen points was impressive scoring, especially given the fact that Micheal Murphy wasn't playing. In fairness, Cavan had some fine performers on the day, none better than full forward Eugene Keating who kicked an impressive five points from play.
If there was any doubt about what sort of defensive system Donegal might deploy this year, then the purists out there will have to brace themselves to endure more of the same this summer.
Whether you like it or not, I think anyone who understands Gaelic football has to admire the organisation and discipline involved in the way the Tir Conaill men shut the opposition out.
As I said earlier in the week, the challenge lies with the team in possession to be more creative with their movement and use of the ball.
Easier said than done.