It’s Monday and, yes, it’s raining again here. At least it’s a Bank Holiday, you might say, but the globalised world in which we now live in means that on this occasion I have to eschew that particular privilege. A wet working Monday it is, then.
Okay, seeing as I have to work, this’ll have to be a reasonably quick one, just to hoover up the online match reports that didn’t appear yesterday and to say a bit about the two other quarter-finals that were played over the weekend and stuff.
The Times’ match report by Malachy Clerkin is built around Andy’s injury and the same paper also has some post-match quotes from our James and their James. On a day when we all ended up a bit down in the mouth, I think the following bit from that last piece quoting our man is worth repeating here:
“Christ,” he exclaimed. “I don’t want to sound too feckin’ downbeat. We’ve won an All-Ireland quarter-final by 12 points. I’d take that. I’d take that any day of the week.”
Indeed. The Times also have a short report on the minors’ win on Saturday.
The Examiner is the only one of the nationals to have reports on all three of our victories on Saturday. Here they are: senior, minor and junior. The same paper also has post-match quotes from James Horan and from Wee James.
Okay, I think that’s it as regards match reports. Moving onto a few housekeeping details about what lies ahead, the minors will be facing Meath in the All-Ireland semi-final in three weeks time (i.e. not on the same day as we play the Dubs). That’s because we beat the Munster champions on Saturday and so take their place in the semi-final, with Meath doing the same to Ulster champions Tyrone yesterday. So it’s us v the Royals on the undercard with the Donegal/Cork semi-final on the 26th.
I haven’t been able to find out yet when (or indeed where) the All-Ireland junior final is being played but in that final we’ll be facing either Kerry or Cavan, who play their semi-final in Nenagh this coming Saturday. Hopefully the Breffni lads can do a Polo Grounds job on the Kingdom in that one, thus paving the way for could be our chance to avenge the 1948 All-Ireland final loss to the lads from the border county.
A few quick thoughts about yesterday. I ended up back in Croke Park in the end, in a nice seat in the Upper Hogan and it was a good day’s entertainment. Cork fairly walloped Kildare but they could, had they chosen to do so, utterly annihilated them as they passed up on at least five clear goal-scoring opportunities in the second half. Cork looked menacing – when they could be arsed to play, mind – but the Lillies were embarrassingly bad, worse even than Down against us. Fourth Best Team? Maybe in Leinster but, after yesterday, even that claim would be open to debate.
The Donegal/Kerry contest was, as expected, enormously tactical but for all that, I thought Jim McGuinness’s team lacked an awful lot of awareness in how they took the game to Kerry and, but for their appetite for sheer hard work, this could well have cost them what eventually was an historic victory. The quality of ball they played into their full forward line – especially in the first half – was pretty dire and, time and again, badly-directed passes inside were happily gobbled up by the Kerry backs. The other odd thing was the lack of variety in their kickouts, which were boomed right down the middle time after time, despite the fact that Kerry were winning the aerial duels there.
Kerry were, though, a mere shadow of themselves and they failed completely to hurt Donegal the way they needed to – a regular supply of long-range points was a must for the Kingdom yesterday but aside from one from Declan O’Sullivan in the first half and another from Anthony Maher early in the second they were unable to find their range at all.
That late goal (which looked like a square ball to me although Kevin McStay reckoned on The Sunday Game last night that it was okay – maybe it was) kept the outcome in doubt for longer than was really necessary but Donegal deserve great credit for hanging in there to dig out the win. They’ll get enormous amount of confidence from having done so – they now have a 100% success rate against Kerry in the championship – and this will, no doubt, stand to them when they face Cork in three weeks time.
Finally, I see the bookies have us as outsiders for Sam – Paddy Power are quoting Cork at 6/4, Dublin 9/4, Donegal at 11/4 and us at a rather generous 7/1. Our odds of 2/1 to beat the Dubs are also rather attractive, I reckon – as I recall we were available at the same price in 2006 and it didn’t do us any harm that day.