SO there we all were not so long ago, thinking that after Cormac and the Donegal saga Tyrone's All Ireland was gone.
And that Fermanagh's run to the last eight last year was sweet but a freak. Not so, as it turns out; the Ulster revolution continues. Yesterday two of football's oldest aristocrats, Galway and Cork, were dumped out of the All Ireland series even more emphatically than they were from their own provincial championships. Judging by this, it'll be a while before either is a power again. The same can't be said of Tyrone, now that they have Peter Canavan back.
Yesterday, Tyrone were only one point ahead of Galway when Canavan was sprung from the bench in the 52nd minute. They were playing tentatively, especially in their shooting, racking up 12 wides alone between the 26th and 52nd minutes. When Canavan came on though, everything changed. This year they've proved they're not a one-man team but yesterday underlined it's a much better team when it has that one man.
This summer has already seen some other legends make impressive introductions. In Limerick, Brian Corcoran's first act upon returning to championship fare was to score a point off his knees. Canavan's first touch though was just as inspiring, when he beat Kieran Fitzgerald to a ball played into the right corner before kicking a splendid point off his left. It was his sheer presence that seemed to transform Tyrone.
Moments before that point, Owen Mulligan kicked over a point and set up another for Sean Cavanagh. Then Brian Dooher, whose kicking had been off for most of the game, landed another one from range. In the end, what was a contest turned out to be an exhibition, with Shane Sweeney and Philip Jordan coming up from the half-back line to kick a point apiece.
There is bound to be an inquest in Galway as to why Padraic Joyce or Michael Donnellan did not take a 25th minute penalty. When these sides met in that epic league semi-final replay in Salthill, Savage had taken a penalty without any conviction or confidence; yesterday's effort was just as tentative as he again made a hero out of Pascal McConnell.
In Galway, they will feel it should never have come to this. In the O'Mahony era, their gameplan was based around playing ball in front of Padraic Joyce, yet yesterday it seemed as if he was instructed to stay behind Conor Gormley, so touted was Tyrone's vulnerability under the high ball in the absence of McAnallen. What will really gall is that their capitulation in the closing 15 minutes yesterday was virtually identical to that in the last quarter against Kerry two years ago. Back then it seemed evident that John O'Mahony had done all he could with this team. Now even O'Mahony himself will know it's all over. Still, he was good to Galway, just as Galway was good to him.
This day though really belonged to Fermanagh and their manager Charlie Mulgrew. No one wanted this job last winter, and at one stage, it appeared no one wanted to play for the county either.
He found men who did though, and with verve we could never have imagined.
Yesterday they showed no respect and no inhibitions, just as was the case against Tyrone and Meath last month. Just think of the men Fermanagh were without yesterday: Paul Brewster, Raymie Gallagher, Rory Gallagher. And think of the men Meath and Cork had out there to play them, men who played in the 1999 All Ireland final. Darren Fay. Trevor Giles. Evan Kelly. Ollie Murphy. Ciaran O'Sullivan, Eoin Sexton. Incredible.
In the battle of numbers, there should have been only one winner here. Cork have 163 clubs solely dedicated to football and 259 in all; Fermanagh have 24.
There has been a serious malaise and apathy about the whole Cork scene for nearly a decade now though and yesterday was only the latest manifestation of it. Both these teams were beaten by at least 15 points on their last visit to Croke Park. While Charlie Mulgrew's side looked like a side hell-bent on atoning for their hammering, Cork played as if they were unaware of theirs. They'll know all about this one though.
And Derry put the seal on a hugely successful day for Ulster football with a comfortable 2-16 to 2-5 win over Wexford at Parnell Park.
Derry managed to put the shackles on Wexford dangerman Mattie Forde, while at the other end Paddy Bradley and Enda Muldoon were in fine form, accounting for all bar 1-3 of Derry's total.
ALL IRELAND SHC QUALIFIER, ROUND 3 Clare 3-16 Offaly 2-10 ALL IRELAND SFC QUALIFIERS, ROUND 3 Derry 2-16Wexford 2-5 Fermanagh 0-18 Cork 0-12 Tyrone 1-16 Galway 0-11