The championship starts here

Dublin v Meath

Just before six o’clock this evening the deposed Ulster champions Monaghan availed of the final Get Out of Jail card in this year’s championship. So although it’s still a fortnight until the All-Ireland series gets underway, we’ve now reached the stage – with twelve counties still in the running for Sam – where every match from here on is a knockout one. The championship has begun.

It didn’t feel much like the championship at Croke Park this afternoon where Dublin ambled to their ninth Leinster title in ten years. Meath were utterly abject, wasteful with the ball they got – and they got a good deal of it over the course of the seventy minutes – and sent into battle with no clear idea how to stop the blue tide engulfing them. Which it repeatedly did until, by half-time, the result was already beyond doubt.

That disallowed goal, which came shortly after Dublin’s somewhat fortunate opening major, was hard luck on the Royals, as well as being an obvious refereeing blunder, though I don’t honestly think it would have saved them from a whipping. On a day, though, when everything needed to go their way if they were to remain in the hunt at all, it was a bad call they could have done without.

They didn’t help themselves, however, in particular with the number of bad wides they recorded in the first half. Mickey Newman was the principal culprit here, his wayward efforts making it look as if he’d spent the last few days at the Danny Cummins school of speculative pot-shots.

So Dublin are once more masters of all they survey in Leinster, a province where any semblance of inter-county competition at senior level in football has now been completely extinguished. No county is capable of keeping the ball kicked out to the Dubs at this point in time and it’s not too wide of the mark to claim that Dublin’s second team would beat the pick of the rest. It truly is a province in crisis from a footballing competitiveness point of view.

Dublin, needless to say, look like a team that’ll take some beating from here on. It’s worth bearing in mind, though, that they’ve yet to face any meaningful opposition in this year’s championship, having accounted for the might of Laois, Wexford and now Meath in capturing a fourth successive Delaney Cup. Unless they get paired with Kildare in the quarters, then their path to the final won’t include a single county that played Division One football this spring, though they may yet have to get by two – Donegal and Monaghan – that’ll operate in the top tier next year.

On today’s evidence in Clones, Jimmy McGuinness’s rejuvenated Donegal look best placed to provide the defending champions with a realistic challenge ahead of the final itself. It’s likely that these two counties – who last met in the championship in that suffocating semi-final back in 2011 – will face off at the penultimate stage this year. If they do, it’ll sure make for an interesting clash of styles.

On the back of today’s crushing win, the Dubs’ odds for Sam have tightened to a miserly 4/9, while Donegal have come in considerably, standing now at 10/1. Ourselves and Kerry are still joint second favourites but we’ve both drifted out to 13/2.

Final point about today’s inter-county action – as @GAAScores pointed out (before it happened), the double wins recorded by both Dublin and Donegal today in their respective senior and minor provincial finals mean that – surely for the first time ever – the same counties in each province have recorded both minor and senior provincial title wins this year. Donegal’s win in the Ulster minor decider also, of course, means that our lads play Armagh in the quarters, on a date and venue yet to be decided.

Closer to home, there was a veritable raft of action in the county club championships this weekend. A handy summary of all the results at Senior, Intermediate and Junior level and what they all mean is here.

Finally, commiserations to the county’s ladies’ U14 team who were beaten in today’s All-Ireland final by Kerry on a scoreline of 6-8 to 4-9. Hard luck girls.

53 thoughts on “The championship starts here

  1. Was in Croker myself today – Meath were poor undoubtedly but Dublin were awesome. Their forwards are just top class. To me, they’re at their peak this year – it’s like Year Two of a two year plan or something. For me, Bernard Brogan, McAuley, Connolly, Flynn didn’t play all that well and they still won handsomely. I hope I’m wrong but it’s hard to see anyone, Mayo included, beat them this year.
    The other game was torturous to watch, I actually think Donegal play the only system that could beat Dublin – but it’s awful, awful, awful football. And I hate McGuinness, with his Mourinho style posturing after the match.
    If, and it’s a big if, Mayo get to a final, I’d much prefer to play Donegal – I don’t think Mayo can beat Dublin myself. I very much hope I’m wrong though!
    Any word on club games – any injuries? Am I right in saying many of the panel didn’t play today?!

  2. Does this mean meath play armagh and monaghan play kildare in quarter finals. As armagh has already played monaghan,

  3. Thanks for that w. J .Roscommon gave a poor showing last night .hope sligo and Galway put in better displays next weekend,

  4. I think Dublin could do to Donegal what Mayo did to Donegal last year. Here’s hoping Dublin waltz through to the final with all their marquee forwards, Same forwards that scored a total of 4 points in the 1st half of last years final. Let the Dublin based media build them up to high heaven but Mayo have the necessary attributes to take them on. We just have to get there too!

  5. As WJ alludes, the Dubs were let play today and ran the show with Meath, indeed ran riot………That would not happen with Mayo. Reflecting on last year’s AIF, whatever about the final result, to me Mayo had no advance ‘fear-factor’ that day to get in the way of things, no awe, no humble respect for the blues and their reputation…….Puckout is right too about the Dub forwards being held in the first half……….Around the three-quarter stage don’t forget, we drew level…….that was the critical point, could well have been a turning point if we had the guile on the field and tactfulness on the sideline to drive it home and get the win……but guile and tact we didn’t have and unfortunately we couldn’t clinch it. But it wasn’t for the want of trying. We have a great recent years’ track record with Dublin in Croker (….in Semis, that is !), and last year we brushed aside the prev AIF result to hammer the holders, Donegal.

    So roll on August………….September, and the Dubs along the way !

  6. Very impressed with the Dubs again today, you can’t find fault in their year so far

    I had been hearing how well Meath would play from those who follow them but I think everyone so far had underestimated the Dubs ability to play at such a pace

    I am also wondering when McCauley will go too far and get punished for his retaliation. He is easy to wind up, he raises his hands and current Player Of The Year or not, it will cost the Dubs before the season is finished.

    Donegal are back to their old selves apart from McFadden is still not firing well but McNeilis is a find

    Witness the tactic of being fouled and three or four players come up to complain to the referee in turn around twenty seconds apart – hence the three yellows for Monaghan before half time.
    Lacey still doesn’t look right for a full 70 though

    Disappointed with Monaghan – brainless kick passing at times

  7. Today provided clear evidence that the Dubs have moved to a new level.
    They’re faster, breaking and moving even better, great kick and hand passing with serious finishing.

    Meanwhile our starting forward plans are stuck in loyalty to former stars that can’t match previous levels of performance.

    Time for JH to wake up and deal with reality. We have Cillian and Kevin Mc playing up to the mark and the Doc joined them the last day.

    Time to build confidence with Freezer at 14, and add direct natural forwards like Sweeney and Feeney to the mix too.

    Quit trying to convert midfielder in to forwards and let the best two start and introduce the others as those two selected get tired or are not performing. Similarly with our forwards!.
    More evidence today too that mobility in the middle of the park is going to be vital v Dublin later on in the campaign.

    And our backs also need to catch up on their best 3013 form. They can’t let the likes of the Dublin forwards be first to the ball.

    Another interesting observation today was how much hands on tackling (or fouling depending on your point of view) that the ref let Dublin get away with. Knuckles Buckley needs to get our boys back on the hard persistent tackling (after all we were the best at it) and stop worrying about black or yellow cards !

    We can’t do anything about the pick and strength in depth that Dublin have; we can’t do anything about the higher level of money and resources that Dublin has; and we can’t do anything about Croke Park being their home pitch, where we all play away to them.

    However, if we put our best 15 out with a very good game plan and match them for fitness, tackling, ability, and scoring, we can beat the Dubs. It will require James Horan to start using the professional standards that Gavin seems to impose to get the best in-form player out and get the best out of them – then we will have every chance of beating them later on in Croker. Dublin has no shadow over us, their not a bogey team for Mayo – our demons of late on the big days have always come from within, and of our own making!

    In two weeks time, we need to see the team out with a game plan that can not only beat Cork or Tipp, but display the skills, attitude, teamwork and finishing that can go on and take Kerry and the Dubs too! JH needs to get the front 8 set-up right and not leave it behind with all the hard work done for Kevin McStay or someone else to finish a year later!

  8. Ive spent the night defending,a cork man telling me how hes so useless and can only score from frees, god I hope we bate the luving shit out a them!!!!!

  9. At the Castlebar vs Shrule game. Good tough match, but Castlebar were already qualified. Ritchie Feeney good in the 1st half and also Neil Lydon. Barry Moran came on with about 15mins to go, but no sign of Cuniffe. He was named on the subs though. Mark Ronaldson good for Shrule also.

  10. A friend of mine said (minths ago) that Donegal would put Dublin out and we would beat Donegal in the final but the trouble is that it will go down as an easy all-ireland 🙂

    anyway, we can let them take care of themselves and only hope we are the ones left to take one of them on.
    is our next match likely to be Cork and then Kerry? We will be a different team if we navage that path successfully and I expect JH has seen this coming for months (as my friend saw the other side coming) and his game plan is still under wrapps.

  11. I was in Clones yesterday for what was a fantastic day out – it had everything but good football! They sure know how to throw a party up there, and Croker aside I don’t think I’ve ever experienced a more exciting atmosphere. Both sets of supporters could teach us a thing or two about getting behind their team when things aren’t going well but Donegal in particular – they were truly the 16th man yesterday.

    I have to say however that I wasn’t overly impressed by Donegal and I didn’t see much there to convince me that they have the beating of Dublin. I’m a bit surprised at the level of commentary around them after the game to be honest – they beat a Monaghan team yesterday that was mediocre at best and who really struggled up front to capitalise on the possession that they won. I’d like to give all the credit to the “impenetrable” Donegal defence for that, but I genuinely feel that Monaghan’s poor decision-making in front of the posts was far more of an issue. For all the talk you hear about Mayo suffering from a lack of quality forwards, Monaghan are another example of that unfortunately.

    Donegal when they got going in the second half (the first was as bad a half of football as I’ve ever witnessed) impressed a bit more, and they did show great composure to win out the game, but they made plenty of mistakes – poor distribution, gave away possession very easily and while McBrearty finally found his shooting boots it appears to me that McFadden’s days are numbered. Michael Murphy was no threat at all from play thanks to Corey (though he did score that amazing free!) and was so deep that he looked at times like he was playing in the half-back line.

    Karl Lacey and Ryan McHugh were both excellent however (the latter in particular), and I was quite impressed by Odhran McNiallais. Leo McLoone really stood up, and Neil Gallagher is an absolute workhorse though I found him quite frustrating at times – slowed the play when they needed to be breaking forward but won a huge amount of ball. But while they showed resolve to win out that game, and while the prospect of a clash with Dublin is certainly intriguing, I can’t see Gavin and his team being too worried to be honest.

  12. Isn’t it amazing how the Dublin-centric media can change the narrative to suit. Mayo claim 4-in-a-row provincial titles only because the competition is so poor and Connaught football is in crisis. Dublin claim 4-in-a-row provincial titles because they are brilliant, one of the best sides to kick leather and, as one national newspaper put it, they are the “Germany” of GAA!!!
    I would hazard a guess that if Roscommon were in Leinster they would be one of the top 3 sides in it and, as WJ rightly pointed out, Dublin have yet to play a division 1 side. They play every championship match at the home of OUR GAA, not THEIR home, that’s Parnell Park, and lately it appears to me that most of the refs are almost star-struck to be involved in a Dublin game as it is becoming more and more apparent that Dublin play to a different set of rules than the rest of the country.
    McAuley should have been carded for his petulant over-reactive (as always) off the ball foul in the first half where he raised both hands and floored his marker just because he dared to touch the hallowed AIG sponsored jersey! Let’s not even mention his persistantly elevated swinging elbows at head height as he runs through opponents. Also, on 2 occasions at least, Connolly fouled his man off the ball and never got pulled up for it. 4 times in the first half the ref played advantage to Dublins favour (correctly so) but then unbelievably failed to play advantage in Meaths favour and ruled out a perfectly good goal.
    Make no mistake about it Meath were pathetic, tactically clueless, severely underconditioned, wasteful in possession and worst of all for a Meath man, soft. The men of the 80’s and 90’s must have been grinding their teeth with anger. It was embarrassing to watch and although the opening Dublin goal was very fortunate the Dublin victory was never in doubt from the 15 minute on.
    There are a few things to take out of it for us though. Firstly, the Dublin backline is very average. For all their attacking breaks, when you get them turned towards their own goal, particularly when you force them to defend direct angled passes in behind their fullback line they are weak. Secondly, a decent attack would have made a lot more out of the sizeable possession that Meath had. Finally, let them stroll all the way to All Ireland Sunday hammering each side they meet along the way, let them be proclaimed from the rooftops as the unbeatable force (that never plays away from home), the blue-eyed boys (that don’t know how to cynically foul), the media darlings, and then please God, let them meet a proper side that owes them a good fucking hiding.
    There is only one side in Ireland that can beat Dublin and it’s us. I said it before and I’ll repeat myself again, look at our league match again. Don’t mind the result, the fitness levels or the “sure it’s only the league”. Tactically we bet them off the pitch that night and we showed a glimpse of how to shut down their kick-outs, negate their runners and also how to open them up.
    As Kevin Keegan famously said, “I’d love it, really love it, if we beat them”.
    Hon Mayo.

  13. Dead right Anne Marie I have to say myself I’m a little surprised at the praise Donegal are getting

    Credit where it’s due and all that, and 3/4 Ulster titles is by every means a great achievement in itself but I think Ulster is now as weak as it has been since maybe a spell in the late 90’s.

    Thought Monaghan were very poor and if truth be told were maybe lucky enough to get there in the first place with Armagh missing a serious opportunity to send them packing in the semi.

    Looking at Tyrone, Derry, Cavan and Down’s back door showing and it’s clear to see it’s been a poor year for Ulster football no doubt about it

    Objectively looking on, I think Donegal are a long way off 2012 levels and I don’t see too much evidence they’ve even improved that much from last year. At this stage remember they had already beaten Down and Tyrone and went down to a Monaghan challenge which was 10x better than what they produced yesterday (a similar showing would have been enough for 2 in a row I think). They then beat laois quite handy and we all know what happened next but I wouldn’t rule out the exact same in this year’s semi

    Dublin are just unbelievable. Meath may well have been terrible, but in terms of pace, fitness, intensity and movement, that performance was right up there with the best I’ve seen in Croke Park in recent times. When you look at the guys they can bring off the bench, you have to say it’s ominous, very ominous indeed for anyone else in the country

    They look to have moved up a level even from last year, and the addition of guys like Alan B and Costello in the forwards is a massive help. Mcmenamin is the FOTY so far. Last year was the time to catch them methinks. The bookies have got this spot on I reckon, only looks like one team can stop them, I’m afraid to say, and that’s themselves.

    Even if some of their starting 15 start poorly, they’ve 6 quality guys to bring on to dig it out. When you saw how poorly they played in an AIF last year by their standards and still won, it definitely looks ominous indeed. I had the feeling all the way through 2013 they were “there for the taking” but this year they look a much more ruthless and complete team. Their fitness levels and the speed they play at are breathtaking.

    U21 AI in bag, minors look the real deal too, club in the bag, national league in bag… gonna have to get used to it for some time to come, such is the resources at their disposal

  14. Love your optimism Pebblesmaller but that was a nothing league game as far as Dublin were concerned. I don’t really like bringing it up again but they were completely half-arsed in it and we essentially handed them the match on a plate (only for Jack McC to miss a sitter at the death).

    Objectively looking on, I don’t see how we’ll beat Dublin. Call me pessimistic whatever, but we seem to have gone a bit backwards from last year, while Dublin look even better.

    Yes of course we may well peak in late August/Sept or whatever and Please God we do, but even then to put it frankly are forwards are not good enough to beat that team in my view. I still think we will make the final but I certainly won’t be confident going up sadly

    Their backs are often cited as a weak point but Rory O’C is probably the best full back in Ireland now and Mick Fitz looks a good addition. Cooper isn’t really a natural corner back but has improved in it and they now have those 2 fighting for a jersey which should bring them on

    Even still their forwards and midfield are so good that they could put out their minor backline in most matches and still win

  15. Pebblesmeller:

    ” Finally, let them stroll all the way to All Ireland Sunday hammering each side they meet along the way, let them be proclaimed from the rooftops as the unbeatable force (that never plays away from home), the blue-eyed boys (that don’t know how to cynically foul), the media darlings, and then please God, let them meet a proper side that owes them a good fucking hiding.”

    Oh God, that’s the best thing I have read in ages!

    Now compare and contrast:

    Dublin 2014: beat three fairly mediocre teams by an average margin of 14.3 points to win the Leinster title. They are unbackable favourites to lift Sam.

    Mayo 2013: beat three fairly mediocre teams by an average margin of 15 points to win the Connacht title. We “hadn’t been tested” yet.

    Under the radar is the best place to be, right now.

  16. To play devil’s advocate Dubs are reigning champions and league champions so naturally enough this form will see them becoming unbackable favourites

    Whereas last year we had lost AI final year before and were well beaten in league semi

    I do see the point though and I’d much rather be coming in under the radar, than being talked up to the max

    I thought the talk of us not being tested last year was ridiculous as we had been tested plenty with virtually the same team a year earlier.

    Reread my posts and they might come across as defeatist but put it this way if Mayo do go on and win this I’ll be the first to quote them again to laugh at them and eat some humble pie!!!!

  17. Thought the analysis on the Sunday game was laughable again last night – no mention of Meaths disallowed goal which could have made it more of a contest as it would have brought Meath within 3 points – poor decision by the referee, how O’Gara came out with only a yellow is also unbelievable – trapping a player on the ground and then a potential biting incident – the panelists thought it was all fine and sure what else would he do – O’Gara and a couple of other Dublin players have been getting away this thuggery for far too often need refs to stand up and call it as it is!

  18. Ciaran, I can understand and emapthise with your mindset here for sure and should we end up meeting Dublin in a final (we still have to get there, as do they) I know I won’t sleep for a month before it. 🙂

    But Gerry is spot on here, and I think our positioning this year is absolutely perfect. And if we make a final I almost hope we do so less than impressively (by design) as I feel we have been doing so far.

    That said, I don’t think this Dublin team is as susceptible to hype as teams of previous years. I think they believe in their own ability far more – the difference being this time around that they have the ability.

    Pebblesmeller, you make a point that the Dubs play to a different set of rules to everyone else – I don’t even know if that’s the case, or if we just see it more. Refs don’t win games, and frankly, I think it’s up to teams themselves to stand up to them a bit more and play them at their own game. Wind them up. In terms of ourselves, in the past certainly we’ve just been too damn nice, but we saw what happened in the league game when Cluxton got himself sent off. That’s why seeing Boyler go in with that shoulder last Sunday was a nice little signal of intent and that’s the mindset with which we need to be approaching Dublin with should we meet them in another decider.

    Never mind the refereeing – it’s the fifteen who hold their own fate in their hands.

  19. Jasus lads! All this talk of playing Dublin?? Back to Earth for everyone PLEASE!! Have you all forgot we have not yet played the quarter against Cork, one step at a time. We need to improve a lot on the Galway performance to even think about Cork let alone Kerry!!

  20. We need to get as many Mayo fans to Croke Park in 2 weeks to support our team. Likely Croke Park will be not even half full. Bar ourselves, the likes of Cork, Kerry, Galway and Tipp in Football are not noted for their good supporter base.

    Contrast that to the quarters the following week, surly they will have to be stand alone fixtures? Dublin v qualifier and Dongeal v – qualifier ticket demand will be through the roof.

  21. If i was a mayo player id be using that as motivation to .As a Mayo supporter there are 3 teams we like beating most of all ,Galway , Kerry and Dublin . So as a player i would love the Dubs being hyped up. The bigger they are the harder they fall. I myself wouldnt be as convinced as some other people about the dubs. Time will tell

  22. Too much talk at present about our meeting Dublin in Sept. There is a lot of football to be played before then. With no guarantee that we will have any interest in the final at this point. Our next game is the one we should focus on. I was very disappointed with Meath yesterday. I worked with a lot of guys from that county over the years and I know how much it hurts them. I believe that Donegal are a one trick pony. Get ahead and stay ahead and they are average at best. They went 3 points to nil up in yesterday’s game against a poor Monaghan side, game over.

  23. Of coarse Ann Marie the rebels too. Im confused about the pundits being impressed at Donegal.They are back playing their muck football of 2012 which didnt win them and All Ireland so i dont know im lost.

  24. I’m not sure that we’re the only team that could beat Dublin. I think Donegal could catch them too. They have the defensive swarm happening again (even if Ryan McHugh is not at Mark’s level) and still have the shooters at the other end to take the chances.

    Though as Anne-Marie pointed out, McFadden’s form is mystifyingly poor and Murphy is being played way too deep – see his 15 minutes in the FF line against Derry that won them the game. But they can score from distance too (something Mayo really need).

    Donegal have regained that tough, stubborn look. Maybe they’re not as fearsome as in 2012 but they will take some stopping, and they’ll really look forward to playing the Greatest Team Ever in the semi-final.

    For my money, the QFs will be:

    Mayo v Cork
    Kerry v Galway
    Dublin v Monaghan
    Donegal v Armagh

    …with the four provincial winners meeting in the semis. I hope.

    Mayo’s biggest enemy before Sunday week is complacency. We had this same fixture 3 years ago in the QFs.

    Cork, the All-Ireland champions, led by six or seven points after 10 minutes, and must have already been thinking about how to overcome Kerry in the semi.

    Within an hour, they were finished.

  25. I’m with you mayomaningalway. I wouldn’t be frightened of playing them and indeed I want to meet them again in Croker on All Ireland day. No team is unbeatable and they are not as good as the media, and pundits, would have you believe. I know we have work to do to get that far but if we perform as we know we can then I believe we will get there.
    Anne-Marie, you are correct in saying that refs don’t win games but they do influence them and there is no doubt in my mind that Dublin are getting away with an awful lot more than other sides. All of the 50/50 decisions go with Dublin and the current media love-in with the squad and Gavin mean that there is no-one in the national press that is willing to call it like it is. McAuley does 10k runs for charity and sure he’s a lovely fella, therefore we will not highlight the 3 or 4 off-the-ball fouls he gets away with in every single game. What about the elbow straight into Aidan O’Sheas back last September under the Cusack Stand? In front of the linesman? Did the ref not influence the game then by not cautioning/sending off McAuley?
    There is only one way to end this thing anyway and that is just to go, once and for all, and win the fucking thing. The time for excuses is gone.

  26. Thats true Pebblesmeller they can certainly be dirty players and they have short fuses. I think you if you take Michael Darragh and Flynn out of the equation the Dubs cant be contained.

  27. I think we are in a great position now Cork will be a good challenge and if we’re not up for it they could beat us.
    If we beat Cork then it’s Kerry in the semi a team we have only beaten once in the championship since the early 50’s.Neither of these teams will fear us.In fact a lot of teams would fancy their chances against us because of some of the defeats we have suffered in the past.
    So I feel if we get to the final this year we will have earned it and we will be in a good position to really compete for the title.
    And if we’re not able to beat the Munster teams well we will know that we are just not good enough to be in an all Ireland final.
    So lets take it one game at a time shall we!

  28. It really is time Mayo shaped up.

    I am not impressed by provincial titles . Dublin have 9 out of ten,I ve stopped counting those of Kerry and with regard to Donegal 3 out of 4 so in terms of winning they mean nothing unless you go on which all the others have.

    If we don’t win the All Ireland we will be classed as failures- that is the harsh truth.

    Time to stop any messing or equivocation -time to finally do it.

    Dublin are awesome so we have to be more awesome. Simple enough id say.

    Donegal are defensive so we need a different plan if it is them.

    How about everyone getting behind Mayo but no more excuses.

    Mistakes have been made in the last few years – time to cut those out now in my book. James needs to listen to others on sideline and make correct changes- start with best team and instill some real steel into Mayo.
    Otherwise lets go out at Qtr final stage.

  29. Some clubs not happy with Mayo management apparently as certain Mayo panel members (I won’t go naming players or clubs here) were told not to line out for their clubs at the weekend…where do the rest of ye stand on this?

    We are not the only county in Ireland where friction between club v county happens.

  30. Slow down everyone about. Forget about them. Lets focus on cork/ Sligo. I’m sure the players and management won’t fall into that trap

  31. Yes i agree . I need to get the Dubs out of my head time to focus on our own game and the 3rd of August first

  32. I meant to say there of course ” slow down about dublin”. They have a rocky road to croaker yet. I hope McGuinness shuts up shop again like in 2011. Lets see the dubs go through that brick wall. They will still probably win but it might knock some of the cockiness out of them. What odds Donegal getting to final?

  33. I think Donegal’s result yesterday in securing 3 Ulster titles in 4 years is a massive achievement. It could have been 4 out of 4 except for last year and in fairness to them they were probably wrecked following the year before.
    Also in Paddy McBrearty they have one of the most improved footballers of the past 2 years. His strength and physicality have goe up at least 20% I think. Personally I would rate him as good as B.Brogan, Murphy, our own Cillian now. He has pace and power and he scored 3 points from play yesterday.
    Finally after yesterdays win I think Donegal will push on big time and in my opinion it would be very foolish to underestimate them this year.

    As for the Dubs well what can you say except congratulations and maybe tell me what drugs/medecine are you taking. I want to be as big as them and be fit enough to run marathons after matches. The pace and intensity the play at (for the entire 75 odd minutes) is frightening. So far so good for them. The next level is upon them and it looks like it will take some explosion to derail this juggernaut.

  34. I agree with JPM. I am surprised by some of the criticism and begrudgery aimed at Dublin and Donegal here. Dublin are an excellent team who play lovely football. They are AI Champions and league champions and club champions because of their ability, not because of home advantage or dirty players or cowardly refs. Donegal are a different kettle of fish but are successful in their own way. I don’t like the way they play but I admire what they have achieved and in Jimmy have a very shrewd m anager. These two teams have won the last 2 AI titles and beat us in the process. Perphaps that’s why some here are very critical. We showed in both finals just how close we were to these two. Hopefully we can go one better this year.

  35. Agree with posts that the immediate focus has to be on the winners of a Cork and Sligo, but we have to measure ourselves against the best, and that’s the Dubs.
    The team for the Quarter-Final should be the team we expect to go on and win again later in August and then take the big one in September – a team picked on form (like Dublin is) that is strong in every department, with no passengers starting!

  36. The view from here in Donegal is that they are back in the big time and itching to take on the Dubs . That assumes they get past the quarter finals which I expect both to do. A semi final to savour then with a massive clash in styles. Dubs could come a cropper on this Donegal shore and we could be in line for a repeat of Mayo v Donegal in the final. We need to take care of our own business with potential matches against Cork and Kerry and be there if the Dubs slip up.
    Otherwise just get there and be prepared for whoever turns up. Not on the fence or anything like ! Hon Mayo.
    Ps we beat Kerry in All Ireland semi after a replay to retain Sam in 51

  37. To win just once, I hope you weren’t referring to my post with your “begrudgery” comment,. 🙂 I’m just telling it as I saw it from being in Clones yesterday. No badness intended, I just didn’t think they were as impressive as the reports today are making them out to be.

    Naturally what they have done in Ulster is a great achievement – if I’m not mistaken, they had only ever won three Ulster titles prior to Jim McGuinness taking over – now they have won three under him alone. And we only have to look to our own team to see how much those provincial titles mean.

    I have to say, while the players and management team focus on the next game, (as I’m sure they are) it’s hard as supporters not to get a little bit excited at the prospect of potentially meeting either Donegal or Dublin again further down the line. Here’s hoping!

  38. Was certainly not referring to your post Anne Marie which was interesting and fair as always. Was also interested in your comments about both sets of supporters and their vocal backing for their teams

  39. Just checking 😉 I was pretty critical of them but all the reports today suggest that they are best placed to beat Dublin with that system if they meet, so maybe I’m wrong, but I remain sceptical for now.
    Yeah, the atmosphere was incredible, and it was when Donegal were struggling the most in the first half that the supporters got to their feet and shouted and chanted for all they were worth. Have to say I felt a bit envious!

  40. to win just once, to say that having home advantage in EVERY championship match is not a major plus for Dublin is naive in the extreme. And to suggest that allowing the single most influential player on the Dublin team play to his own rules and avoid punishment on all cautionable offences is NOT an advantage to his side is puzzling to say the least.
    Dublin are a terrific side and are the reigning league and All Ireland champions and do play a fabulous style of football and I do not begrudge them anything. All I want is a level playing field for the 20 or 21 players from both sides and to play the game in the knowledge that the result will be dictated solely by ability on the field. That is not the case with Dublin currently.
    As for cowardly refs? I don’t know if I would go that far to call them cowards, but, there are far too many instances of refs siding with Dublin on the 50/50 calls and also on deciding when to dish out the cards. I’ll remind you of the last 10 mins of last years All Ireland when Dublin players repeatedly jumped and almost “piggy-backed” on Mayo players in attempt to slow play and kill time. How many cards were dished out to them? How many cards did Connolly or McAuley get last Sunday for repeated off-the-ball offences and blocking runs? Both of which are black card offences.

  41. Folks, I know it seems daft, but lets do our bit here. Like the players, lets worry about Game 4.

    Game 4, that’s all we are looking forward to!

  42. Yes. We don’t get to experience Dublin or Donegal at all until Sept 21st and then only if we have safely negotiated Game 4 & Game 5.
    Kerry are waiting in the long grass & we should know what that means.
    We need to be focussing our attentions on the deep south … Cork & Kerry.

  43. I seen a lot of stuff here over the last few weeks giving out about McHale, Brady etc writing articles and that the opposition will be “pining up on the walls” for motivation. If prople believe that happens, well all Cork, Sligo , Kerry or Galway have to do is read some of the stuff here and its the same thing. I am flabbergasted at the way people are talking about Donegal or Dublin in Spetember…we will have a very tough game against Cork ( probably) in the last 8 and we will have to improve no end from connaught performances to beat them, and up it again to beat Kerry. Some of it reminds me of the type of stuff english fans comeout with before every world cup and getting to a final. One step at a time and that next step is a very big one against Cork.
    Someone mentioned up above that Dublin have not played a division 1 team yet… neither have we by the way.. and they are disposing of their opposition a lot better then we are. We have not beaten them sicne Summer 2012.. I make that 2 games in the league last year, the AIF, and this year in the league we only drew with 14 men…… I don’t see how, to quote Pebblesmeller “There is only one side in Ireland that can beat Dublin and it’s us”.. that makes no sense at all in my book.

  44. I dont believe on current form we would beat Dublin.We have not played well so far and there are questions to be answered.However its only July and if we avoid injuries we could improve and then who knows.It would be better to peak later in my view so there is hope.
    I think its reasonable for people to surmise about Dublin after Sunday and last All Ireland so perhaps wjmightdelete less drama and outrage needed at this point.

  45. All – everyone has a right to express their opinions here, from the overly positive to the overly negative, subject to the house rules on comments. If anyone takes issue with someone else’s opinion, that’s fine: take issue with the substance of what you don’t agree with but stick to the substance. Overly theatrical comments expressing, for example, how flabbergasted you are at what others are saying or what “unmerciful sh*te” is being said by others aren’t helpful and don’t contribute to rational debate. In my view, such comments stray into ‘playing the man not the ball’ territory and so fall foul of the rules. I’ve let a few of these kind of comments slide of late but I think we’ve had more than enough of them for now. Please note for future reference.

  46. Wjmightdelete, “I don’t see how, to quote Pebblesmeller “There is only one side in Ireland that can beat Dublin and it’s us”.. that makes no sense at all in my book”.

    Let me explain my reasoning. I believe that Mayo are the only team left that have the correct balance of attack, midfield and defence to cope with Dublin.
    Kerry (who I expect to progress to the semi-final stage) may have a better attack than Mayo, arguably, but their midfield, back 6 and general fitness and conditioning levels are not quite up to Mayos standard. Therefore I cannot see this Kerry side beating Dublin because their defence will not hold up against the Dublin attack and they will struggle on the Dublin kick-outs due to lack of pace and stamina.
    No disrespect to Cork but I feel that Mayo, on their game, will have just enough to beat Cork (who I expect to beat Sligo).
    Monaghan and Donegal are somewhat similar in that both sides can create a formidible defensive structure that could withstand the Dublin attack, probably better than the defensive formation Mayo will offer. But they will not score enough to beat Dublin and in particular if Donegal have reverted back to their ’11 model, which it seems they have.
    Galway, Tipp and Armagh I don’t believe would have what it takes either to topple the Dubs. Therefore, to summarise, on balance I believe that we have the strongest unit left capable of defeating Dublin. A draw in the league, a 1 point defeat in September (bear in mind Higgins’ point wrongly ruled wide!) and a topsy turvy league game in Croker the year before when both sides led by 5 or 6 points at different stages of the match.
    I stand, or currently sit, by my belief.

  47. It would be a mistake for anyone to think that Donegal have reverted back to 11 and the very limited attack they had then. This is a new 14 model which is refreshed and rejuvenated for the battle ahead. They have vast experience and will change plans according to the need. I would expect to see a much more expansive game in the quarters which should see them through to the semis. Meeting Dublin and stopping their attack will be the challenge that they have in mind and everything will be geared towards that. They might just pull it off especially if the Dubs continue to rack up big scores in the next game .

  48. I agree Gerry G. I think that Donegal are very adaptable and while they have been defensive up to now they will let loose very soon. When they did let loose against Derry they blitzed them with 1-3 and effectively won the match. And that little period was enough for them that day and they were happy with it.
    They are also very patient and even when Monaghan came back with that goal they kept their resolve to win the match comfortably. I think they will fear no one. They already have an All Ireland medal and know that on their day they have the beating of whoever they meet. This belief will stand to them big time and ally that with their personal attitude and overall team defense they are a great price at 10/1 if you want a punt.

  49. Way too much talk of Dublin and finals.

    For God’s sake. We have to play Cork, a side weve beaten once in championship in decades ..and if we mange to get over that we play Kerry. Nuff said.

    Wake up everyone. I hope the players etc are focusing on the job at hand.

    Ps: Paddy Power has Kerry at 6/1, we are at 13/2.

  50. True Anne-Marie, but Cork would be marginally ahead of Sligo on their lesser form and well deserving of their favourite’s tag if they play fairly well. However, with a new manager, they started fast and looked too fit too early (opposite to ourselves), which may stand big time to Sligo.
    Kerry too on current form look a good bet. Earlier in the year when Cork were fVouites to take Munster by practically everyone, I went for Kerry ( including in this blog), becauseI figured they had oceans of time to plan with Cooper, and have serious talent in depth – sleeping lions. I don’t see a fast improving Tipp or inconsistent Galway turning them over in the Quarters.
    Other than Donegal doing a frustrating 14 man behind the ball and breaking efficiently to upset the Dubs, I agree that Kerry or Mayo are the only ones that will beat them playing football, as we used to know it!
    On current form in my book, we are joint-third favourites with Donegal, behind Kerry in second and Dublin.

    Our problem is our backs have not achieved the level of dominance they did last year, we don’t seem to know our best midfield pair that complement each other and the team and we’re trying to make other midfielders in to forwards to accommodate them.
    We have only the forward unit that’s being selected on form and consistent to a high level, while others that could contribute are more or less sidelined. So we’re not doing bad to be joint-third favourite on current form. We need to seriously get our act to together in the next match with our best team and form – the game after will be too late !

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