Starting and getting ready to start

So, the championship is off and running once more, off on its crazy, meandering four-month run, one that alternates between periods of very little activity and bouts of frenetic action. Although Galway were first out of the traps (and damn near out altogether) the weekend before last, it was only yesterday that the summer season got going properly, with the first championship matches played on home soil and, of course, the return of all those same old faces we know and love on The Sunday Game.

It was fairly ominous, I thought, that Kerry didn’t seem to be any the worse for wear yesterday due to the loss of one-third of last year’s All-Ireland winning side.  Well, they did line out with fourteen All-Ireland medallists and the manner in which they pulled away from the Stone Throwers in the second half at Semple Stadium yesterday suggested that we could end up being as pig sick of them this year as we have in previous years.

One of the Sunday papers (I’m not sure which one it was) suggested that the Kerry lads are determined to make it to the All-Ireland series via the front door this time around, mindful of all those years they have on the clock at this stage and their desire to give their increasingly uppity neighbours a reminder (yet another one) as to who is really boss when they meet at Killarney in a few weeks time.  I don’t think I buy that argument – Kerry look, if anything, to be in better shape now than they’ve been at any time in recent years and I’d say they’re confident of making the All-Ireland series no matter what road they have to take.  Beating Cork would certainly be the easier option for them and they could well do that but I doubt we’ll see too many obituaries written about them should they fail to do so either.

Our lads, meanwhile, are continuing to make their way through a thicket of challenge matches.  The game down in Belmullet last Saturday seems to have been a very poor contest, with Cavan failing to get going at all.  Trevor Howley’s second appearance in the corner would appear to confirm that he won’t be playing centre-back against Sligo and it now seems to be a straight choice between Tom Cunniffe and Donal Vaughan for this position.  Tom started there and I think he’s now also likely to do so in Markievicz Park but there are still a few more challenge games to come so I guess the line-outs in these will give us some further clues about who will be playing where when we meet the Magpies.

Our next run-out takes place down in Abbeylara, Co. Longford, tomorrow evening where the lads are set to face Westmeath (where would our pre-championship season be without a meeting with Westmeath?) and then next Friday we’re due to play the Dubs down in Hollymount.  That was the one I was hoping to take the kids to but there’s no way I could contemplate the three-hundred mile roundtrip that would be involved, even if it is against the Dubs.  I don’t have a definite throw-in times for either of these matches, though one of the lads commenting here said that the one tomorrow evening is set to get underway at seven.

31 thoughts on “Starting and getting ready to start

  1. Hi WJ, impossible to tell anything on the Mayo v Cavan match but Howley was solid and strong in the corner. Cunniffe was good at centre back. However Vaughan when he came on looked most like an actual county footballer. Donaghy’s performance for Kerry showed how to use a target man. We are miles of that type of understanding and that is the difference.

  2. It does seem to be between the two of them for the position but it’s hard to know which way the decision will go. Given that Tom has already played there and Donie has been such a success on the wing during the NFL, it’d probably make most sense to put Tom in at 6 and leave Donie where he is. We need to be making our minds up soon on the issue, though – it’s shades of 2007 all over again with the way big calls are being made about key positions late in the day.

    Donaghy was pretty impressive the last day alright and it’s obvious there isn’t a defence in the country that can hope to stop him. He has a hell of a fetch, brilliant hands and superb ability to lay off the ball, with the best forwards in the country around him ready and waiting to take whatever ball he has to give. With so much being made about how many players Kerry have lost, it’s only now we’re all copping onto the fact that Donaghy’s return, after missing virtually all of last year, is such a huge boost to them. McCarthy’s return at centre-back has also settled them down there as well and right across the field they look very, very strong. 11/4 is beginning to look like generous odds for a 37th All-Ireland.

  3. Hi
    W.r.t K donaghy there is a way to stop him. the way is to put your hand on his jersey and make sure he cannot get off the ground.
    for this you need a FB who is rock solid and not afraid to put himslef about – i’m tallking here of someone form the Mick Lyons/Francie Bellew type of man i.e. hard as nails and

  4. oops.. that went wrong – unfinished from above on K Donaghy.

    Donaghy – you have to have someone who will keep “prodding him” with the “occasional” elblow into the lower bolg !!

    Even then though Kerry have serious target men. Gooch was phenomenal. Gooch will seriously punish you if given any space as he has vision as well as accuracy. He also has a free roll in that Kerry team so can play where he wants to. Only option for this is to have a fast paced man marker (who is not easily decieved by trickery and is very dogged in his job).
    Or else you block the supply line in.

    Problem with supply line in though is that there are a lot of suppliers in the Kerry team. P. Galvin was brilliant as well and the balls he played in were perfect for a forward to come on to – i.e. head height and with pace to give the forward space to move around into. So at mid-field you have to have some serious Ball winners.

    Hardest thing about Kerry is they want to dictate the way the game goes. If you can stop this and dictate it in your own way you stand a reasonable to good chance against them.

  5. Could be wrong on this but as far as I recall Bellew was eaten by Donaghy in the 2006 quarter-finals. And while you have your hand on his jersey make sure your other one is covering your mouth. Those Kerry boys can take care of themselves and Donaghy is no shrinking violent.

  6. violent…subliminal thinking there. Should have been violet.Apologies to Kieran and JJ!

  7. f. enough.
    I mentioned Lyons and Francie becasue they were they two men that came to mind who could “take it” as well as dish it out.
    You’re right in saying that Donaghy will not like this sort of behavouir.
    That’s what I meant in winning out on who dictates to one another. Donahgy has to be dictated to as well like it or not !

    PS: apologies if I am dictating here. 🙂

  8. David Brady gave a glimpse of how to mark him in 2006 but only after all the damage was done. Management were considering starting him at full back in the run up to the final but to be fair to them it would have been a massive call to make considering how well heaney had done in the semi. Having said that these are the sorts of decisions the likes of Mickey Harte will make… Tyrone showed how to do it in a horses for courses selection back in 2007. Alternatives are to cut off the supply.

  9. I remember that Ted.
    I was standing on the Hill, right behind where Kerry were attacking, when Brady was brought on. First thing he did when he came over to Donaghy was belt him in the ribs! That was the last cheer I gave out that day. The look on Donaghy’s face was priceless. He was shook for a good while after that, but we were well beaten by then anyway.
    We needed a few more David Brady types that day. Still do.

  10. It’s interesting to see the small amount of influence Kieran Conroy has allowed Donaghy to have any time they were matched up. Donaghy does not like being marked by Conroy and clearly showed it in the league match earlier this year. Conroy started at No 3 that day in anticipation of Donaghy being on (he came on at half time). So Johnno has done his homework there as Conroy definitely got on top that day and Donaghy’s game suffered as a result.

    So he can be marked!

  11. Doc G, Conroy is not the answer for Donaghy in croker. it worked in a couple of league games alright but not in croker. Anyway we’re getting ahead of ourselves…we have smaller fish to fry before we start speculating about things like that.

  12. Cork will instruct on how to mark big lad next day in killarney and I put money it wont be left to one man ..as shown in thier management of AOS last month.

  13. Lads, know this is cutting it fine but, anyone have a definite time for the game in Abeylara this evening??
    Also if ya think ya can rough up Donaghy, good luck, but I would advise coming up with a plan B also. He may not have faced such a revolutionary game plan in either club or county football before.

  14. Funny guy ontheroad.
    Lads a bit of common sence, please.If elbowing or hitting a player off the ball is the way to go then g.a.a is better to die off.
    Donaghy is good and if any good player gets a good supply marking a bad full back hence heaney,mayo mid field, tipperary mid field and full back.Whereas for mayo decided a game plan would be a bad idea.If we win the ball more often than not at mid field and breaks then its cuts out donaghy same way if we put a full back on him and deploy a sweeper it nullifys him.I think in 2004/6 colm cooper probably caused us alot more problems.
    I cannot believe the pure bollox “mayo beat cavan by 9 points in a friendly but they were bad and because of that they will not win anything” It was a misreable day in belmullet, a gammy friendly against a team who beat sligo..Do you expect to see highly motivated players there, i wouldn’t give a crap so i don’t see why should they.Slightly more dissapointed if they tried hard there but not in croke park.

  15. I’ll let ontheroad reply himself, jj, but I should point out that the house rule around here is generally to play the ball and not the man. You might want to bear that in mind for future reference…

    Apropos how to stop Donaghy, I guess the best demonstration of this to date was Tyrone in the 2008 AI final where Joe McMahon kept two hands on his jersey at all times and literally bolted him to the ground. Donaghy got the odd free for his efforts but he never got airborne all day and couldn’t make any runs to collect those diagonal balls in either. There was a Kerryman beside me in the Cusack that day – we were in the Davin Stand end, looking straight down on all this – and he was apoplectic at the treatment Donaghy was getting, both from Joe Mac and from the ref, who gave him bugger all, despite his being constantly fouled. A good ref obviously wouldn’t let this sort of thing happen but good refs and AI finals don’t seem to mix very well!

  16. Maybe so wj but i prefer to not win at all than win by thuggery.I support g.a.a i dont go to see people cheat, im proud mayo don’t stoop to those levels, kerry usually dont do it. Tyrone/dublin/armagh/donegal/fermanagh/monaghan play atrocious football, also galway adopted this, i really dont understand how anybody can stand for this in a amatuer sport that was set up for enjoyment.I’m sure you seen the sunday game sunday night and spillane and o rourkes little bitch about physicallity, theres a difference between outmuscled to get a ball first and every time some gives a pass been hit late, its cowardly and pathetic and the gaa is filled with these guys.

  17. welll done on beating westmeath i look forward to a match report.interesting to see the amount of interest in stopping Donaghy (legal or otherwise) league and championship totally different credit where it is due on his day no full back will stop him.Lads forget Donaghy for now SLIGO,SLIGO,SLIGO lets get behind jom (for now) full support for the lads this is an very tricky ficture. Will watch the Dubs result with interest but SLIGO is the big one for now

  18. bit of late news some of you already know jason sherlock has failed to make the dublin squad. Gilroy had shown he is the boss fair dues to him he is making the team his own,it wouldnt have been an easy decision I wouldnt be Sherlocks biggest fan but he has been on the dub panel since 1995 which is a fair achievement so happy retirement self imposed on not

  19. God JJ just as we were becoming best pals I go and ruin it. Nothing could be further from the truth, I hate dirty play. I was actually trying to point out to JPM that “prodding him” and the “elbow below the bolg” was not the way to go. My point was meant to convey that Kerry men are well able to resist this type of skullduggery and also able to mind themselves. No where did I condone thuggery and like you JJ I would rather lose than have to resort to it. I suppose I write tounge in cheek at times and it can backfire. The reference to JJ at the top was over a minor spat that I caused re spelling. It was a joke but hey….I gotta think before I open my mouth in future. For the record, Ontheroad hates dirty play and was actually trying to convey the futility of employing that “style” on Donaghy and Kerry. So JJ we can shake hands over cyberspace and I will kick the short free to you.

  20. Kerry don’t resort to thuggery or ‘cheating’??
    I think we’ve been watching a different team over the years.
    I can go back to the first minute of the last AI final for the latest example of it.
    They’re by no means the worst, I’d just say they’re the cutest at it…

  21. Unfortunately the proof is there….any team that has won the all ireland in the last 10 years, barring maybe Galway, had had its fair share of hard men who were willing to do what it takes to win the all ireland. We would all like to see football played in its purest form but the reality is you need a few enforcers.

  22. No one condones dirty play it but neither can anyone deny it doesn’t and will not exist. It’s nice to think that the game is played in a pure honest form but in reality this Never happens and never will. there’s simply to much at stake.

    As for Kerry not resorting to these tactics – well Dan is right of course. Remember the elbow T kennelly gave to N Murphy in the 1st mininute of last years final. Apologising after the game when match is won – well sorry but that’s too late !! Also why has P Glavin got so much attention ? what about A. O’Mahony and face it D. O’Shea was inspired a lot by Paudie and no one forgets his “approach” to making sure his man did not score !!

    Every team had them throughout the years – smeone mentioned Galway – but Ray Silke was there as an enforcer too in the 1/2 back line.

    The simple fact is there are 30 grown men out on a field of grass in front of a huge audience and their job is to satisfy the hunnger of that audience by wining the match.

    There is 1 man to manage all of this and frankly ths cannot be done because of course he does not have eyes in the back of his head or niether is he a computer who gets all descisions correct in an instant.

    But the audience will be satisfied if what happens on the pitch is fair for both sides.

    Apologies for stirring up a debate here but at the end of the day I believe in football sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.

  23. debate is what it is all about lads, i have heard enough compliments down in kerry about how mayo always had classy footballers , i would take an armagh style puke football all ireland if i was offered it..

  24. Dan and jpm, well tadhg connellys incident was on of the blue.
    dara o se was not dirty, he played perfectly within the rules, he won balls fair and square , he was the perfect example of out muscling, nicholas murphy couldn’t match his strength in the air.
    Paul galvin is not dirty but he is targetted of the ball constantly and thats a different matter, well aidan o mahoney is not a member of the kerry team (first 15 anyway) watch kerry vs dublin last year lads if you can.Dublin trying every cheat in the book, kerry didnt react to it, won everything fairly as is the kerry way.

  25. why would you, that style of football is almost a cancer in the game, justs speaks highly of your morals lads.Its simple the best team in ireland in a given year should be ai champs.That the best team at g.a.a football not hitting off the ball fouling off the ball constantly, targetting good footballers with personal insults and sly’digs’.I remember tyrone vs kerry a few years ago pascal mc connell came 20 yards out of his goal to poke colm cooper in the eye.Is that what g.a.a. is about?

  26. JJ i hear what you say and i have always been a proponent of the beautiful game as a player and as a trainer of teams in both Gaelic football and soccer but i have alwys been a man to select hatchet men too, now i would never condone a fella verbally abusing his marker , but i have often sent a fella out to “haunt” his man as i put it… by that i mean stick to him like glue , allow him no space , be as negative as possible and to try to put him off his game. That to me is exaclty what G A A is about , the likes of the gooch can make mincemeat of such a fella and leave him looking like an idiot , are our forwards of such calibre? not from what i saw in the league final ( admittedly the only mayo game i have seen in full this year) or in the game against meath..

  27. Well there is a difference between man marking and elbowing , or ripping his jersey off,i’m not saying you do roger but i could never and will never understand how a manager could condone that kind of play.basically its lazy poor management that cannot think of a decent plan.

  28. and regards our forwards your right when you look at the likes of the any morans, but then if you look at the likes of the alan dillons, conor mortimers, aidan o se,idan kilcoyne,sos,that could match anybody

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