Down to the last six

TyroneKildare_I’m feeling a bit square-eyed after spending half the day in front of the box but an intriguing afternoon it was as the championship field was pared down to the final half-dozen. I hadn’t seen any live action dish ear involving Cork before today and they looked, well, shit hot. Twenty-seven points in a match in the All-Ireland series has to be some kind of record, with Donegal’s tally of 2-10 (which, in points terms, was as much as Tyrone scored in their two-point win over Kildare) failing to save them from a complete hammering. How good are Cork? A whole load better than Donegal, that’s for sure, but obviously Tyrone won’t provide the kind of limp-wristed opposition that Donegal did today when they meet the Rebels at the semi-final stage in three weeks time.

I thought Tyrone were lucky enough to make it through today. It was a compelling contest, one in which Kieran McGeeney’s Kildare almost pulled off the result which would have blown this championship wide open. Tyrone looked seriously out-of-sorts for much of the seventy minutes and while old hands such as Stephen O’Neill and Eoin Mulligan made telling contributions, their talismanic captain Sean Cavanagh was virtually anonymous for the whole game. Kildare had them well shook up by half-time but, after that blistering ten-minute spell at the start of the second half, it was Tyrone’s cuteness – allied, it must be said, to some truly dreadful Kildare shooting – that got them over the line.

In the run-up to today’s quarter-finals, I was more than a bit mystified about all the adulation that has been heaped on this Tyrone team and I’ve said more than once in the past week that I didn’t expect them to make it as far as the final, let alone win their second All-Ireland on the trot. While today’s tight contest will stand to Tyrone – and in a way that Cork’s demolition job on Donegal so clearly won’t – I’m more than convinced than ever after seeing today’s contrasting contests that the red and white flags that’ll be waved at Croke Park next month will be held by supporters of Cork rather than Tyrone.

I guess the most noteworthy aspect of today’s ties, which contrasted so sharply with last night’s match in Portlaoise, was the intensity shown by – let’s be honest – three of the four teams that were in action this afternoon. It’ll be interesting to see if the same kind of tempo is evident in tomorrow’s match, not to mention our own clash with the Royals this day week. Cork and Tyrone are serious outfits and whichever one of them makes it through to the final will make life difficult for whoever qualifies to meet them from our side of the draw.

PJ reckons we’ll need Kerry to give us a good rattle in the semis to get us into shape for the final but let’s not go there now. Instead, let’s head to Skryne, where the lads there have started a competition based on predicting the scoreline of our quarter-final clash next Sunday. They sent me an email today inviting predictions from our side of the fence so it might be worth having a lash at that to get you in the mood for battle next Sunday. That entry forecasting an 8-32 to 0-3 outcome in our favour is mine, by the way.

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