"Cillian O'Connor, amazingly, didn't even flinch at what was said by Philly"
Philly McMahon getting under the skin of his opponents and sparking a reaction. We have all been here before.
The reaction of Mayo star Keith Higgins, however, to McMahon comments directed at Cillian O'Connor seemed to light a fuse that threatened to derail the 2020 All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Final.
Ultimately, though, the match officials did not catch the tunnel melée that followed the McMahon-Higgins spat and play continued with Dublin pulling clear in the final stages for their six-in-a-row triumph. The optics, though? They were terrible:
Things got a little heated between both sides as the Dublin and Mayo players headed in for the HT break @RTE2 @RTEplayer #DUBvMAYO
Follow updates right here: https://t.co/GgvUsjcTXn #rtegaa pic.twitter.com/mNoIpnrbJH
— The Sunday Game (@TheSundayGame) December 19, 2020
On the latest episode of The GAA Hour, host Colm Parkinson spoke about the tunnel incident during his final review with Conan Doherty and former Meath forward Cian Ward.
"I'd love to know what Philly McMahon said, because we know these trash-talk things go on in games - it was said to Cillian O'Connor after he had a brilliant first half - but whatever was said, both Higgins and Aidan O'Shea reacted in a way that... I don't know [but] I know this trash-talking goes on."
"All this sort of trash-talk, it gets dirty sometimes," Parkinson added. "But Keith Higgins and Aidan O'Shea would be well used to that. Cillian O'Connor, amazingly, didn't even flinch at what was said. It was an unusual one."
Despite Higgins and O'Shea getting extremely physical with the Ballymun Kickhams defender, O'Connor did not allow himself to get drawn into it. Indeed, it was O'Connor that sought to pull Higgins away from McMahon as the tunnel incident threatened to blow out of control.
"I suppose Cillian O'Connor deserves a lot of credit," says Conan Doherty. "He wasn't even interested.
"I'm sure he's heard a lot of shit and he knew he was having a good half as well. He probably felt, 'I don't need to get involved in this'.
"Whatever Philly said, he found it hilarious anyway. He was walking away with his head down, laughing. That was when Higgins just couldn't let it lie."
Doherty also made the valid point that Dublin boss Dessie Farrell may not have appreciated the fracas, no matter what sparked it. "I was I was Dessie, I'd be thinking, 'What are you doing? You've just got them hyped up going into their changing room?'"
However way it played, at half-time, the record books will tell us Dublin broke Mayo hearts again. Sticks and stones, etc., but these final defeats will hurt Mayo the most.
Listen to the GAA Hour Show with Colm Parkinson, Cian Ward and Conan Doherty here.