Championship preview: the provincials

Essentially the majority of teams who make up the 2014 championship are realistically setting targets for a possible tilt at the Provincial crowns. Anything beyond that for those outside of Division One would in all honesty be a massive bonus.  One or two may get through depending on the draw, and this will be a great day out for that county in Croke Park. However, for the majority it will be only two or possibly three days this summer.  But this is the real nature of championship football. You have to perform on the day. So now the provincials are here, we can look to see if there may be any possible upsets that might surprise the so called big guns.

ulster-gaa-logo

This year’s Ulster championship is definitely the main one to catch the eye. Any of at least six teams can lay claim to winning it. To the forefront are Division One members Tyrone and Derry. They are closely followed by Monaghan and Donegal, both newly promoted from Division Two. Further down then you have Cavan and possibly Down who on their day are also capable of beating anyone. But because of the nature of Ulster, the draw itself is crucial as is the home and away advantages. To this extent the card is already marked for several of these.

On one side of the draw are four of the above named – Tyrone, Down, Cavan and Monaghan. On the other lie Derry and Donegal.  And it must be said that Donegal now look in disarray once more after their disastrous Division Two final and subsequent player withdrawals from the county panel.  It could be argued that Derry are not exactly in a brilliant mind-set themselves after the mauling they received from Dublin.

However the thoughts of a possible return to Ulster glory since the heydays of the early 90s will surely re- focus this team. And in fairness Brian McIver had a game plan that worked throughout most of the League. Plus he is picking players on form from within this squad. For instance there was not one Ballinderry man on the starting fifteen against Dublin even though McIver himself is a Ballinderry man. No room for sentimentality in that man’s head. Align this with home advantage in the first round and it’s not difficult to see a Derry win over their near neighbours.

Following this is a clash with either Fermanagh or Antrim. Fermanagh held their own admirably finishing third in a strong Division Three whereas Antrim were hollow in their Division Four campaign. However it is very difficult to see either qualifying beyond this match into an Ulster final.

On the other side is a much tougher road. Tyrone have home advantage in the preliminary round against Down and this should be enough again the Mourne men. The winners here take on Monaghan and this really should be one of the games of the championship. Monaghan’s class was very evident in their destruction of Donegal in the Division Two final. Their six-points win showed how formidable a team they are – one who can play the rough with the smooth. Plus they are reigning Ulster champions and this alone should spur them on. This is really too hard to call as the venue has yet to be decided. If it is in Omagh then the nod most definitely goes to Tyrone however if the Ulster council fix it for Clones, well then it’s Monaghan for me.

The winners go on to meet either Armagh or Cavan. Cavan beat Armagh in the preliminary round in Ulster last year. And in 2014 Armagh had a poor League resulting in relegation from Division Two whereas Cavan won promotion from Division Three. However their failure to win the League title coupled with what may be viewed as failure at U21 level knocks a bit of icing off the cake. Overall the feeling is that they are still a little bit away from being regarded as conclusive contenders for Ulster. So even though they should win in the Athletic grounds a back door beckons beyond this.

Leinster GAA

In Leinster it is really a waste of time and there is no speculation required simply because of the way it is structured with Dublin playing every game in Croke Park. To this extent you can immediately rule out Wicklow, Laois, Longford, Offaly and Wexford as they are all on the same side of the draw as the Dubs. On the other it’s probably a straight call between Kildare and Meath with the Meath men getting the nod over a very uncertain and unreliable Lilywhites team. But to be honest it’s really only a question of who ends up meeting the Dubs in the final as either of these will in all likelihood get their heads handed back to them on a platter in the provincial decider.

Munster GAA

Munster also is a straight shootout. Clare, Waterford, Tipp and Limerick have all real reason to be grumpy regards the new setup. In fact the nature of the draw and the new seeding is really a disgrace. Why should Kerry and Cork receive special treatment? It goes against everything in the GAA and what it is about.  Bar one thing of course – money! And having a big draw Munster final every year will receive far more publicity and as a result more funding. So hard luck to those on the periphery. The real sad fact though is that the gap between the bigger and smaller teams is also widening once more because of structures such as this. As to the result itself, well, Cork get the nod for a range of reasons including  home advantage, Kerry’s retirements and injuries, and Brian Cuthbert’s teams good League form this year.

Connacht GAA

In fairness Connacht has some matches of note. The likelihood of a clash between old rivals Roscommon and Mayo is a high probability. The Rossies have a tricky Leitrim obstacle to overcome but home advantage should see them through. Playing in the Hyde helps Ros a lot. Align this with a very good U21 team plus a rising Senior equivalent gives a lot of positives to their supporters regards the future. But it is difficult to see an upset against Mayo simply because Ros are surely not yet at the level that we should be regularly operating at.

The winners will play of the other semi-final between Sligo or London/Galway. In years gone by a trip to the Exiles would have been viewed as nothing more than a casual weekend away but as we have seen this has changed dramatically. And it’s definitely not beyond the realms of possibility that a Galway team burdened with the losses of Meehan and Sice, and who were ultimately fortunate to stay in Division Two, could flop over there as well. On the flip side London are not seen any more as a walkover so Galway will not be going into this game blindfolded. A tough one for the Heron Chokers but they get the vote to progress nonetheless. In the event they do come through they will be on the road again though against Sligo.

But a trip to Markievicz Park is no easy prospect. Although Sligo had their own issues last season with the public culling of Kevin Walsh, Galway’s record against them is not exactly phenomenal. Pat Flanagan’s team will surely be targeting this match as one they can get a result in. Every year there are a few odd ones and this is definitely a close call. Sligo hardly lit up Division Three but they did win all of their home matches in the Park. Also they are no bad team. This team should probably have won at least one Connacht title in their time. And even though it is still passing, players like Marren, Harrison and Breheny yet have a chance to write their legacy, and a young Galway team will really face a tough one here. The bottom line is Sligo are underdogs who are very hard to beat on home ground.  They have nothing to lose, and as such they get the quiet nod here to advance.

Overall it is difficult to see anyone challenging us in Connacht and as on paper we should be more than capable to come through. But more on ourselves later. For now there is enough to whet the appetite across the board as the championship kicks off. And let’s face it. As GAA people and the summer around the corner it’s great to have the Provincial battles coming around with it.

62 thoughts on “Championship preview: the provincials

  1. Excellent analysis JPM and it’s difficult to disagree with your view of it. Ulster will be a minefield and whoever comes out of there will be battled hardened and, more than likely, facing the Dubs. This quarter-final stage is where any chinks in the Dublin armoury will be exposed. If they breeze through this stage it will be difficult to stop them as complacency will lessen the nearer they get to the All Ireland Final.

  2. You seem to be placing a lot of stock in home advantage, it obviously is a big factor, but …

  3. Excellent analysis JPM. I agree with most of it. Galway will be too strong for Sligo if they come away from London with a win IMO

  4. JPM, thanks for a very interesting analysis. If Tyrone meet Dublin in the quarters then the Dubs best be ready. I could only listen to snippets on the radio. As I recall Dublin quickly took a healthy lead, which Tyrone had to claw back. Tyrone will do all possible to deny such a lead if they meet again.

    I know I am a bit late on the GD debate. I cannot see JH taking these steps if he did not, along with all or a very substantial majority of backroom staff, believe it was an avenue worth travelling. He had to have the players on side.

  5. The fact that we’re even saying “if Galway come away from London with a win” shows the changing times (not forgetting our own last encounter there).

    I have a funny feeling London could pull it off.

  6. Mayo/ Galway final with Mayo winning because they have a better team.

    Cork will come through in Munster because they have the best team .

    Dublin will top Leinster by going through the motions.

    Ulster is difficult to call, although for sure no Ulster team will win Sam this year, it’s tough to see who will come through to lose out in the latter stages. I’ll go with the Monaghan hunger, stony grey soil and all of that.

  7. I go for Dubs in Leinster because they re way ahead of everyone. I take Cork to edge Munster. In our own province I would be hopeful that Mayo will emerge though not by anything like the margins v Ros and Galway that we had last year. Finally as always Ulster is hard to call. Though Monaghan are champions and looked impressive in league I am going for Donegal managed by a capable manager who want to prove last years tame exit was a blip rather than a return to the bad old days.

  8. I agree with jj, but expect Tyrone, donegal, Kerry to be sure certs for getting to August bank holiday also.
    the 8th one is hardest to call but kildare/meath/cavan/derry/Ros all possible. June to august is a great time of year!

    great to hear about Gavin Duffy, he is 11 years younger than me and i am convinced that donie Buckley could kick me into shape ????

  9. Dublin,Cork,Tyrone,Mayo to win their provinces. The four to join them in the quarter finals will likely be Monaghan,Kerry,Meath and Donegal.

    Ann Marie times are certainly changing a lot of the credit has to be given to London also. They have improved from the whipping boys they once were with wins over Leitrim,Sligo,Fermanagh and brought Mayo to extra time all in the last three years. I would still expect an improvement from Galway this year plenty of talent there and should beat both London,Sligo to reach the Connacht final.

  10. Diehard, Jez I hope not because even ahead Harrison and McHale (also reported to be injured?) in the backs, and Sweeney in the forwards, Jason is the greatest emergence from the Leagues this year – players you know can do a good job for Mayo! It would be a serious set-back!

  11. I agree Ann Marie Galway have really struggled with the “lesser” teams over the past few years. Waterford, Tipp last year (blessed to win former), Antrim year before, Wexford a few years back. I actually fancy London to pull off a shock especially as they’re at home. Either way I think it’ll be a Mayo/Sligo final

    As for the Provincials 3 are a snoozefest, but Ulster is very interesting. Think Monaghan will win it, beating Derry in a final.

    Mayo to walk Connacht, Dublin to walk Leinster and Cork to make home advantage count v Kerry

    “Man in Kerry” Donegal cannot be considered “certs” by any stretch to be featuring in August. McHugh is an absolutely huge loss and we all know how bad they were last year. They’re there for the taking this year big time. Derry to beat them in Ulsterr

  12. If Gibbons is injured, while it’ll be disappointing given how well he was going in league, it’ll hardly be that detrimental given we can still call on our two All-Star nominee (one winner) midfielders from last year

    He was going brilliant but with all respect I wouldn’t panic one bit. He barely featured in our campaign last year at the end of the day. Wish him well of course- if true and all that

  13. Yeah also heard about Gibbons. Hope its not too serious and wish him well. Had excellent league campaign and looked a cert to start v Ross or Leitrim

  14. I had fancied Monaghan in Ulster to build on previous yrs work ,but with injuries to Lennon and Mc Manus their task is made a it too difficult I now believe.
    Cant see London doing another surprise in connaught their preparation cannot possibly compare, and the complacency is gone this side of the pond.Expect Galway to be the waking giant this year.

  15. Albany I’ve been living in Galway for years, play my club football here, follow football here year-round and I can say there’s absolutely zero evidence to suggest they’ll be a “sleeping giant”.

    Every year people expect them to suddenly come good, simply because they’re Galway. They were a mess for most of the league, got beat out the gate v mayo last year, scraped past Waterford and put it up to a Cork team who were lacking absolutely everything in the form of tactics and cohesion. They were lucky not to concede about 6 goals in that game the backline is a mess.

    You could count on one hand the amount of above par performances Galway have put in in the last decade in Championship.

    Absolutely nothing against them (as I say live here years and besides Mayo they’d be my favourite team) but with all respect they haven’t a hope of doing anything much. It’ll be a while before they’re back challenging again but it’ll come in time no doubt about it

    As for the London game they look set to be without a few very key players. Believe you me London will be well up for this and will be full of belief they can turn over Galway

    Think you’re being a tad harsh on London with the “complacency” comment too. They had to beat Leitrim after a replay afterall so that’s twice the latter couldn’t beat them. I know Leitrim are no world beaters but they had a good year in 2012 and would have fancied their chances especially with an FBD title in the locker. From what I remember London were well on top of Sligo and it was more down to London naivety and inexperience that the game was as close as it was in the end

    From what I remember London were no worse than Rossies or Galway (our other Connacht opponents) last year tbh. While I think the Rossies will be a bit better in this campaign there is absolutely zero evidence Galway will. Confidence in the county couldn’t be much lower, the under 21’s result didn’t exactly help much either

  16. Tough for Gibbons if this report is true and the injury is serious. He was going really well in the league and seemed one big bonus from last year. I think Ciaran’s dismissiveness is way over the top. Still, we are probably better covered at midfield than anywhere else.
    Regards Galway, I do not think they can be complacent about anything at the moment. They have been beaten by Leitrim in Minor league and Junior and U21 championships this year so far which is surely unprecedented. Were they beaten by them in the FBD also? Leitrim won a two in a row in FBD this year, also unprecedented.

  17. Not sure what you mean re the preparation comment either? I know lads over there who aren’t with “county” team but play club, but they’d have clubmates playing for London and they say the commitment they put in is savage. Even the clubs require a hige level of commitment.

    Many have to spend loads on transport and stuff to get out to training several evenings of the week, from the inner City. I know a lad who played hurling with them a few years back and said a lot of the lads over there are in construction and would be shagged most evenings but still would travel to train most evenings of the week. Their pick is getting stronger too. I’ve heard of a few guys from Galway I’d have played against in club who can’t get in the panel and they’d be very good players (played underage for Galway and stuff)

    They’re not like New York, they had a full league campaign. The only issue is friendlies.

    Heard a piece with Mark Gottsche their midfielder who is originally from Galway, he is secretary over there or something similar like that anyway and he was going on about how much they’ve progressed over the last couple of years and how much work is being put in

    The Connacht final run gave them a huge boost last year as did getting the chance to play in Croke Park

  18. AndyD I’m not being dismissive at all. If I had to pick a 15 v Roscommon if all were fit I’d have Gibbons in, but if he’s unavailable we can still call on our two midfielders from last year who got us to a final and turned in huge performances year round. Remember how good Seamus was last season, he was injured for league. Gibbons loss is his gain in a way

    My point is he’s very replaceable and there’s no need to panic. He had a highly commendable league of course, and yes I’d hugely prefer if he was available than not but that’s life

    There are players we cannot afford to lose. We are well stocked at midfield which is a huge poisitive

  19. By the way to answer your other question galway have actually lost to Leitrim in every “grade” this year, yes, which is frankly mad given the difference in picks and resources available to both counties

    Always like seeing leitrim do well

  20. Gibbons is a massive loss, bigger than some people realise i think. We have this idea in mayo we have this incredible midfield with plenty of backup, yet we ended up losing the midfield battle in the last two finals and many other games, having lots of good midfielders is no good when you need one or two great midfielders to win an all ireland, with gibbons gone it appears where going to be more or less fielding the same team as last year, hopefully he will be ok, does anyone know how bad he is?

  21. Agree Gibbons is a massive loss, if he is out for the season. That lad can pull them balls down from mad high places and equally as important, Gibbons makes good use of the possession after the catch. We should breeze through Connaught so hopefully he’ll be ready to go when we need him. He’s young and provided it’s not a real serious injury, he will heal.

    I also agree that we are fortunate to have depth of talent at mid field but Gibbons is a very special talent. All contenders will more than likely have to deal with tough blows in terms of injurys etc so even if it’s the worst case scenario we’ll just have to stay focussed and get on with the thing.

  22. That’s very disappointing news to hear about Jason Gibbons, if his injury is serious, especially for the lad himself. After establishing himself as a first choice player this season, it’s really bad luck for him. Best wishes to him and hopefully he’ll make a speedy recovery. The main thing he gives us compared to the other midfield options is his scoring potential. He scored a couple of great goals in this year’s league and is well able to take his points as well. Reliable scoring midfielders are few and far between. His mobility also is another one of his best assets, something that caused us big problems in last year’s final, here’s hoping the injury will not keep him out for the rest of the season.

  23. Gutted for Jason. Just when he was finally beginning to reach his full potential after some superb league performances. Lets just hope the ligament damage is not as severe as it has initially appeared and that he will be firmly back in the fold come the autumn. We should have sufficient backup to be able to get us through Connacht – but his absence will be sorely felt and we will be a weakened team without him..

  24. Is this confirmed? I think he’ll be a huge loss despite the resources we have in midfield. He was, without doubt, our form player. It also limits our options now for playing a 3 man midfield/chf and our options from the bench.

  25. I feel for Jason as he has developed into a first class midfielder and was an automatic choice for that position the poor fellow must be gutted. What I am going to suggest will probably raise a few hackles but I can assure you that this is not my intention
    Seeing that Roscommon are supposed to be such an easy pushover I would like to see how our new signing so to speak tried at Full Back with Caff.moved to centre half back and Donie to Centre Fieid to do a Daragh McCauly type job.Ger Caff.is an excellent footballer and would help stem the flow of players coming through the centre and he is very efficient at placing a man.Gavin Duffy playing at Full Back would have no problem sorting out O Gara and Brogan further down the line if we get there.Gavin woul be a great man to marshal the defence and provide a bit of the leadership that we are lacking to closeout tight games likein the last years All Ireland.He I an exceptional fielder of the ball and has the strenght to burst out scattering all and sundry in his path.Just in case you think I am not dismissing Roscomm that is not the case or Leitrim for that matter but the general consensus is that Roscommon will come through and that we will beat them this may not be the case

  26. Dublin and Mayo for sure, but don’t rule out Kerry. Cork are the form team in the South based on the League but with new management, may have front loaded their fitness programme. And Kerry have had lots of time to change their game plan without Cooper and you should never rule them out.
    Ulster is a bookies dream this year, even more than usual. It’s like picking a winner in the Grand National. My best guess, based on their greater experience all round, would be Tyrone, but I wouldn’t back them.
    Dublin have be odds on to retain Sam, with the only thing that will be them is themselves, possible over-confidence and a little less appetite to retain it, than when they won it last year. But it will have to be a very good team, with a very well executed game plan that will take them in the quartet or semi-final.

    On Jason Gibbons, Tom says it all earlier. He is very important to Mayo now. And if he’s gone (hopefully not for long) and Mikey Sweeney looking like he’s pushed aside, what’s changing in our 8 to 15 line-up from last year?

  27. Heard the news about Jason over the weekend and am very sorry for him on a personal level after his excellent league campaign. He brought something different to the fray, gave us options and certainly in my eyes had he continued in this vein was becoming not just our second choice but our first choice midfielder. Here’s hoping tomorrow brings him good news and that if he makes his way back he’ll be in contention in August (if we are).

  28. Jason Gibbons is a big loss, made some very good shows in the league, hope he is back very soon and our injury tally this year is at a minimum from now till the end of sept.

  29. I had gibbons as chf in my mind. F— it anyway, I wish him the best of luck and a fast recovery. There’s cover for him but he’s become a first choice player after his league run and I hope he can recover fast enough to get back in time for a few big games in late summer.
    I can only imagine the disappointment himself and Cathal Carolan must have today.

  30. I would have to agree with Ciaran’s comments on the Galway team. There is absolutely zero chance of us winning Connacht this year. We just don’t have enough quality players at the moment simple as. The whole senior management setup is light years behind the top teams.I would have watched some training and trial games over the past few seasons and the lack of intensity and quality has to be seen to be believed.

    We will come again but it will be a few years yet and that squad of players really needs a more professional setup behind them.

    Saying that I do expect Galway to beat London. I wouldn’t be convinced they would beat Sligo after that though and certainly they wouldn’t beat Mayo or Ros.
    They had a training game in Pearse Stadium today and neither Conroy nor Bradshaw were togged. Not sure if that means they are out of contention for next week or if it was precautionary. It’s tough times for us at the moment.

  31. Lads, where is all this unwavering confidence coming from re the semi over the Rossies? If you ask me, bar some phoenix like resurrection from Galway, it IS the Connacht final and much as it pains me to say it the noisy neighbors are building a decent team. They generally have one once every 10 to 15 years and unless it implodes like they often can, they will be quiet a challenge, in this game anyway.
    The Rossies are brimming with confidence, they’ve won a trophy in Croke Park this year, had their 21s in the final and are getting the first year bounce managerial bounce from John Evans. They are playing at that sh*thole the Hyde which is generally worth 2 or 3 points to them and have nothing to lose. Any sort of performance for them after last year will be a positive and thats always a great way to go into a game. Evans generally gets the best out of teams, and has a good record with the exception of his latter years in Tipp (even if he does have the annoying habit of refering to himself as “John Evans”).
    I’m quiet concerned about this one, I reckon we’ll probably get out of it with 2 or 3 points to spare but if a drop of 10 to 15% in our standards and we could easily come a cropper.

  32. I hear you east cork but I think we will have more than enough for them, i dont think you can ever accuse this current team of being complacent , they will do what they have to do to get the 4-in-a-row this year.

    on an unrelated matter, i think kerry are laughing up their sleeves in munster this year, everyone has written them off, cork being spoken of as potential AI winners, i think kerry will beat them in the munster final.

  33. Anyone hear anything further on Jason Gibbons injury? Terrible news if he is out for the year, first for himself, his club and Mayo.

  34. I was thinking the same about Duffy..if we are to play him, and he has the size and fielding capability a lot of folks here say he has, then I think the Full Back position is perfect for him!.
    He could potentially boss that area and provide some much needed leadership there.

  35. I don’t know where people expect we can play Duffy. Remember he has no experience in playing any Senion Inter county not even at League or even FBD level. So throwing him in at the deep end, into the championship team would be a major, major gamble.

    And a hiding to nothing for Horan. For instance it’s only in the latter days of the championship that we actually expect to be under any pressure i.e. from August onwards. So he wouldn’t gain any respect by playing him against Roscommon, or anyone else in Connacht for that matter as we’re expected to win those anyway.

    And then say it was a failure. Then he would be seen as a desperate man unable to get the best from the existing crop of players that had won Connacht so successfully for the past 4 years.

  36. Your right of course JPM…and its pure speculation on my part to suggest he play at Full Back. But god only knows what Horan has planned for him..maybe he’ll play, maybe he’ll just train, maybe he wont play at all!
    If he plans to play him, now is the time to do it though…while we have a few easier games before the august bank holiday weekend.
    I see no sense in waiting till then to put him in. A mistake here or there in Connacht we can recover from, but a mistake in August could spell disaster.

    But if he doesnt play, then this is all a big unnecessary distraction.

  37. Mister Mayo, not directed at you personally but in general i think even if he is dropped in a few weeks, while it may be a distraction to us i dont think it is really a distraction to the players or management who are the only people that it really matter if they are distracted or not, they have a good idea now what his chances of playing are and while where all distracted with speculation i dont think it will affect there focus. Also my 2 cents if he is to play anywhere which i think is unlikely i imagine it will be wing forward, i am confident it wont be as a defender, especially not Full Back where if he messes up it could be game over, whereas in wing forwards the worst that can happen is he has a bad game a needs to be substituted.

  38. Wouldn’t it be a very curious thing to stick Gavin d at full forward for 10-15 minutes against Roscommon and have Sweeney and o Connor waiting for the pass or palmed down high ball?
    If the right ball was played in, it could be a nightmare for a fullback to beat him for a ball.
    Or in a line marking diarmuid Connolly, that would be worth seeing, and give him the works within the law.

  39. Was reported in the Western that Duffy would have to play some sort of club championship match (in Galway perhaps?) to be eligible to play for Mayo, which they say hasn’t happened yet.

  40. Dublin do not get special treatment for the Leinster championship. Meath and Kildare would both regard Croke Park as home away from home and the more big match experience gained therein the better.

    As for Munster I can’t empathise too much with the seeded counties, the quality of Munster finals that didn’t feature the big two has been poor indeed. You’re not going to promote the game with non-events like that. Maybe it’s time the provincial championships were put out of their misery anyway?

  41. Digits if true I wonder if there’s any club that will step up? Someone said he’s living in Galway.. can’t see any Galway team paving the way for a Mayo mans return.
    This adds some more intrigue to this.

  42. Great idea putting him on Connolly priceless Duffy would bring him down a peg o two.

  43. Any news on j gibbons I wonder who will replace him didn’t he replace the lad got Injuried against cilldare hope he is okay.

  44. Ah, shite. But 6-8 weeks is not too bad in the grand scheme of things – the key thing will be whether he can break back into the team on his return. Hopefully he’ll make a full and speedy recovery – here’s wishing him all the best.

  45. As bad as that is I was thinking 2015 if it was badly damaged. That puts him as near August, keeping his edge will be the hard part because you can imagine the loss of cardiovascular fitness in 8 weeks of not doing any or little training apart from the pool
    Still, he’ll be there which is good for him after all his effort.

  46. 6-8 weeks isn’t bad. The Connacht final is 8 weeks from last Sunday. Jason may well play a part, assuming we’re there.

    How is the injury situation for Barry Moran and Seamus O’Shea? If those two and Tom Parsons are all available, then with Aidan fit and firing we shouldn’t have too many worries over midfield this year.

  47. Who did j gibbons replace against Kildare the fellow who he replaces could starting ahead of him.

  48. Just watched ciaran macs point from the weekend, he sure as hell makes it look easy.
    If only he was 25 again!!!

    A bit of thumb twiddling for the next few weeks, any challenge games or other developments with the training? I wonder how the new man is finding the round ball?
    I heard Eugene McGee on newstalk earlier, poor old Offaly are in the doldrums in a big way, players there are really not interested and it sounded like they threw the towel in at the weekend.
    He reckoned they were on par with Carlow!!and he said that that sayin something!! I wonder how the people of Carlow feel about a description like that?

  49. @David, do you have a youtube link for Ciaran Mac’s point? The link on twitter was to a video on vimeo which would not open for me. Thanks if you can help!

  50. Trevor
    Go to mayo page on hoganstand. I got it there I think. When I think back to some of the scores and passes he gave, jaypers, it’s a terrible shame he didn’t get a senior medal to go with the club medal

  51. Cheers David. Ah stop, he was unreal. Legend of Crossmolina along with Nallen!

  52. I believe that the need for a club championship game to make a player eligible for county football only applies where a player is transferring from his home county to a county of residence. Gavin Duffy’s home county is Mayo so he could play for Mayo but not for Galway without having played a club championship game.
    Still, I cannot see Gavin Duffy playing a real playing role due to the time he has been absent from any real and sustained competitive football. Nor was he that outstanding as a minor – very good but not really outstanding. Nor was he that outstanding as a rugby player. Connacht is very much a second division team in rugby terms even if the had the occasional outstanding result. The have had many more downright poor results, often against other second division teams. After all Connacht never qualified for the Heineken Cup on their own merits, always qualifying on the strength of the performances of Munster/Leinster.
    Bringing back Kieran McDonald also seems a very long shot since he is now approaching 40 although he is probably still supremely fit. For all of his brilliance, particularly in 2006, he was also a major weakness in the team in that year’s final due to his coming so deep, back into his own defence, to get possession. As Kerry targeted him as the major threat to them he was under major pressure when getting possession and rarely managed to play his usual game. Agreed that it was not his fault that we could not win primary possession around the middle of the field which led to him going in search of the ball in the defence. I believe that he retired when he was asked to play at full forward rather that on the 40.
    Where is he playing for Crossmolina at present.

  53. Andy D,
    He played full forward last week , but was still lashing it over from 60 yards.

  54. Andy D,I’m not 100% sure was it before last years All Ireland final or the previous year Ciaran Mac did an interview on news talk sport,when he was asked at what age and why he retired from inter county football he stated that he never retired that it was the manager we had at the time that decided he was finished,a total shame to treat one of the finest players we ever had in such a way

  55. GD played for top English Premier League side Harlequins, a side that included internationals with World Cup medals in their pockets. He won a European competition with them. He could have stayed in the EPL, but took the chance to return to the West, indeed two EPL clubs are rumoured to have been interested since his departure from Connaught. He also played for Ireland. All in all not a bad rugby career.

    I do not think he will play a role on the pitch for Mayo. However he has experience of being around and holding his own with big time winners.

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