Paddy Durcan's fearlessness a sight to treasure in the age of lateral hand-passing 2 weeks ago

Paddy Durcan's fearlessness a sight to treasure in the age of lateral hand-passing

Some games of Gaelic football make for a tough watch.

Dawdling defenders and lateral hand-passes. Retreating forwards and restrictive systems.

Slow ball. Boring game. Gaelic football is gone to the dogs you say, and with a shake of the head and a flick of the channels, you switch over to Burnley and West Brom on this Super Sunday. Neither of them within a country mile of the goalposts, in fact, the only realistic hope of a goal being scored is when there's a set piece or of course, the ever-present off-chance that someone like Phil Bardsley might commit a catastrophic error.

So within a few minutes of watching this shadow-boxing develop, and maybe it's just because the Sunday isn't that Super at all, you get the urge to go back to the Gaelic.

It's not that there's non-stop certified entertainment over here either, far from it in fact. But it's more-so based on the possibility that you're going to miss out on something local, something great, something that will have the group chat hopping later.

It could be someone like Pat Spillane saying Cork shouldn't even bother turning up to play Kerry. The topic of the night could easily, on some heaven intervening day, be a barely believable bolt from the sky from someone like Mark Keane. The magic is back, they'll say, this is why we watch it.

But in general and more often than not, it's the simple things. By Jesus lads, it's a joy to watch Paddy Durcan play.

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Just when you're put out by the sight of David Clifford defending like he shouldn't have to. Just when you're about to say something outrageous, like 'I'll never watch a game of Gaelic football again.' Just when you think you're out, Paddy Durcan pulls you back in.

The Castlebar man plays with a fearlessness that is not such a common thing these days. Every time he touches the ball he makes it his business to ask a question of the opposition, with one of those trademark, scampering runs forward or with a non-percentage kick-pass that most players would just pass off.

In an age when half backs regularly collect the ball with all the urgency of a Sunday morning driver, Durcan is the tearaway exception to the rule.

In fairness, it takes two to tango and it's James Horan's liberating management style that sets Durcan free, just like it does for Eoghan McLaughlin, Oisin Mullin and co. But given the ease and regularity with which he breaks through and scores, Durcan is its best exponent.

Against Roscommon at the weekend, Durcan was at his barnstorming best. Like Lee Keegan circa. 2016, he left tacklers for dust and kicked points for fun. The shackles were off and the foot was down. The game was flooding with possibility.

There's been a lot of talk this week about Dublin having the six-in-a-row sewn up, but if Durcan and Mayo can keep on asking the questions, maybe they'll pose a bigger challenge than the Kingdom ever would have.

There's life in this old dog yet. West Brom and Burnley can wait...