On Saturday September 14th, Dublin saw off a brave Kerry effort to claim their 5th All Ireland title in a row. The display of total dominance and self belief put on by the Dubs is hard not to compare to a certain NFL franchise. Yes that’s right folks, I’m talking about the New England Patriots. New England have become annual favorites to raise the Lombardi, and rightfully so. Since 2008, the Pats have appeared in 6 championship games, claiming 3 of those. It’s gotten so ridiculous at this stage that even 2 weeks into the 2019 season, and another Patriots Super Bowl appearance is already being predicted. And unless something drastic happens with the structure of the GAA, (or if another county can find some sort of Dean Rock Kryptonite) the boys in blue are almost a shoe in for a 6th Sam Maguire in a years time.
Perhaps the most common trait that these two storied organizations share is being absolutely despised outside of their own fan bases. It could be that I’m biased, but whenever either team is playing, I almost always side with their opponent. And I think the reason for this is that most (not all mind you) supporters display a certain type of arrogance whenever either team is playing. Now maybe they’ve earned this right – both teams are after all the undisputed best in their respective codes, but there is no need to be downright cocky about it. Patriots and Dublin fans alike show a blind belief and refuse to accept that there is even the smallest chance they will lose. Additionally, they both seem to have attracted an awful lot of bandwagon supporters over recent years. I don’t know about you, but I have definitely noticed an influx of Dublin GAA and Tom Brady jerseys about the place.
The Dublin footballers and the Patriots both happen to have wiley coach at the helm, undoubtedly a major factor in their joint success. Bill Belichick and Jim Gavin are renowned for their methodical preparation and “no bullshit’ approach. Belichick is famous for refusing to allow a blizzard to interfere with his practice schedule, informing players they would be expected to train regardless of the snow. Gavin, a former Air Corps Pilot and Flight Instructor, applies his military expertise and precision to his training sessions. And it shows. Dublin’s playing style under him has been almost surgical, patiently picking apart their opponents with precision passing and waiting for just the right moment to launch a strike.
Jim and Bill also share somewhat of a dispassionate relationship with the media. Bill’s responses to questions from members of the press are typically terse and god help you if you ask him something not directly related to the game at hand. And let’s not forget when Jim refused to speak to RTE in retaliation to not being provided with video footage of his footballers. Taking no prisoners whatsoever.
By the way, have you ever seen either of them smile during a game? Didn’t think so. In fact, the only time the two men smile is when they win big. Like Super Bowl or Sam Maguire big.
We can complain all want about the unrelenting supremacy of both teams, but we must acquiesce to the fact that they are the standard to which all challengers must reach before even dreaming of taking their place. Some have come close – The LA rams stilted the Patriots offense to a 13-3 victory in February, but ultimately they couldn’t find the firepower to finish the job. Similarly, Dublin needed two go’s to kill off Kerry in this years All Ireland. While the would be de-throners fell short, it can only be a matter of time before either sport becomes competitive once more.