Too busy minding McCaffrey, Kerry left Dublin's lethal weapon with the freedom of Croker
There seemed to be a special rule for Eoin Murchan.
First half of the All-Ireland senior football final and it's hot and heavy, it's helter skelter. Every loose ball is hunted down. Every break is harassed and harried.
This was intense stuff. But Eoin Murchan was in a world of his own.
While Geaney, Clifford, Mannion and almost everybody else on the pitch was surrounded, Murchan was offered the freedom of Drumcondra. Like the kid playing astro-turf who nobody picks up because he's young and just so small, the Na Fianna nipper was left to his own devices.
Go on, have a little run there. Play away to your hearts' content. You're not really going to do anything.
But Eoin Murchan was not messing around. He was not teetering on the edge of it. He was in the eye of the storm and he was going straight for the jugular.
Kerry had no answer. Their defence parted like the red sea in front of him. They didn't know what to do. Murchan, that elegant mover danced on the grass and floated over Kerry bodies like they weren't even there. You'd struggle to find a more graceful dancer at a ballet session.
It ended in points for O'Callaghan. It created breaks for Dublin. It had Kerry's heads in a spin because they actually hadn't a clue who was meant to be marking the Dub smaller than the rest of them and livelier than each one of them.
Kerry can't say they weren't warned. In what was the lingering image of that first half, Murchan constantly popped up with more than 20 metres in front and behind. Criminal stuff, but at least Kerry had 20 minutes to plot for him in the second. Maybe stick Stephen O'Brien on the other side. It's hard to blame a marquee forward like him for leaving Murchan off.
Give Diarmuid O'Connor a go. At least do something for Dublin's most destructive runner.
But Kerry changed nothing.
And like a man who had blood in the nostrils, Murchan went to punish their ignorance as soon as Conor Lane through the ball up. Within nine seconds, he had darted from the opposite 65 to the Kerry 21.
In the mean-time, he'd left about five green and gold jerseys behind him just because they were unsure whether to stay or to go. Murchan didn't think twice. Just ran.
David Moran pulled and dragged and you could hardly blame Conor Lane for playing what seemed like a 'live advantage.' Some called steps and steps were taken but no pull, as seen below, and Murchan was going to play that ball.
What can you do when your hand is being held?
The ref should have blown up for the free. But you can understand why he didn't. The steps rule is one that certainly needs to be looked at.
Ah Eoin Murchan this is just unbelievablepic.twitter.com/smN2reuEkF
— GAA JOE (@GAA__JOE) September 14, 2019
Though it seemed impossible, Murchan ran back to his position faster than he'd ran in. He continued to dictate this game with his decisive and purposeful runs, and it was clear where Kerry had gone wrong.
With all the talk of nullifying Jack McCaffrey, they left this time-bomb free of commission. Murchan exploded on Croke Park and he was one of the key men in winning five-in-a-row.