The weekend’s action

It’s a wet and miserable morning up in the capital – just the right kind of weather for the mood most of us are probably in right now, reading reports such as this, this and this (that last one is by Ed McGreal, by the way, and it contains a handy round-up of the weekend’s club action) about Cillian’s injury and his likely extended lay-off. Double-plus fuck, as George Orwell might have put it.

Donegal v Tyrone 2013

Photo: The (INPHO/James Crosbie)

Aside from our woes there was plenty of action on the field over the weekend, with most attention focused on that nasty, bad-tempered but utterly compelling battle between Donegal and Tyrone in Ballybofey. Like many others, I fancied Mickey Harte’s lads to shade this but they were well beaten by the All-Ireland champions. As we know to our cost, if you ship two goals to Jim McGuinness’s Donegal there’s no way you’re going to prevail and although Tyrone battled back well after conceding the first one, the second green flag was the fatal one for them.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but one thing that struck me forcefully about yesterday’s match in Ballybofey was the way that both sides were allowed to foul all day, with only the more blatant infractions getting pulled up. On the radio, Tom Carr praised Joe McQuillan at half-time for “letting the game flow” (i.e. ignoring most of the fouling that was taking place) and it was hard to avoid the conclusion that McQuillan knew full well they’d both foul all day so he let them foul all day. It would have been interesting, I think, to see how differently the game would have played out if, say, Mother Duffy had been handling it. Had that been the case, we can be fairly sure there’d have been more than one red card shown.

Two other things stand out from Ballybofey. The first is that not only are Donegal looking extremely fit, strong and hard to beat, they’re also rapidly on their way to becoming one of the most disliked inter-county teams of all time. The constant fouling is one thing but the non-stop mouthing by the likes of Murphy and McGee, the incessant feigning of injuries and the arrogant, aggressive carry-on by their sideline personnel means that they’re setting a standard in this area that even the likes of Tyrone and Armagh failed to reach in recent years. I’m sure I’m not the only one who would be glad to see them knocked from their perch, though after yesterday I’m not sure this is going to happen any time soon.

The second point is that yesterday proved beyond all doubt that last year’s outing of us as a cynical team has got to rank as an even sicker joke that it was when the allegation was first made. We’re not at the starting gate in that department compared to the stuff witnessed – and allowed to continue with impunity – at Ballybofey yesterday. And, needless to say, there wasn’t a peep about this on The Sunday Game last night: instead Eamonn McGee – whose brief it is to foul, foul and keep fouling and then complain, complain and keep complaining on the few occasions when he gets penalised – was one of the three Donegal players shortlisted for MOTM. At least Paddy McBrearty deservedly got that gong.

The bottom line, I guess, is that, love ’em or hate ’em, Donegal are well and truly back and, one would expect, are now sailing serenely – if that term could ever properly be used when describing them – towards a hat-trick of Ulster titles (they’re 4/9 with Paddy Power to do so). As a result, I think it’s fair to say that all the rest of us with pretensions of competing at the business end of the season dish ear have been well and truly warned. They haven’t gone away, you know.

Neither have Kerry or Cork who both skated to victory in utterly one-sided encounters against Limerick and Tipperary respectively in the joke that is the Munster football championship. That joke, by the way, extends to match scheduling this year, with Kerry having to play two matches in six days (they’re due to annihilate Waterford next Saturday evening, yawn) before waiting a full five weeks to play Cork (once they hammer Clare, yawn) in the final. That’ll be an interesting one, with Kerry’s old lags facing Conor Counihan’s refreshed Leesiders, but regardless of who wins that Southern decider both counties will, as always, be in the hat when the draw for the All-Ireland quarter-final is made.

Will London make it that far? Yesterday’s win over Sligo in Ruislip was a deserved and long overdue Connacht championship victory for the Exiles and we know from our own mortifying near-miss over there back in 2011 what a tricky proposition that fixture can be. (Interesting stat – James Kilcullen, who came on as a sub for Sligo yesterday, started for us that day). Sligo could, as we managed to do two years ago, have taken the easy last-minute option of popping the ball over the bar to send the match into extra-time but instead their attempt to snatch victory with a goal resulted in Pat Hughes’ fisted effort cannoning off the crossbar and going wide.

Despite London’s heroics yesterday, you’d have to fancy Leitrim – who already, don’t forget, have a match under their belts themselves having thrashed New York a few weeks back – to prevail in Carrick-on-Shannon to book their place in the Connacht final for the first time since they won it under John O’Mahony’s stewardship back in 1994. And if they do, they’ll have got there solely by beating non-Irish ‘counties’, which no doubt could become an interesting piece of GAA trivia in years to come. Unless Londáin turn them over in Carrick on June 23rd, that is.

25 thoughts on “The weekend’s action

  1. I’m with you on this one WJ. The Sunday Game have an awful lot to answer in this regard. They decide the agenda for the year, who are their golden boys and who are their black sheep. It sickens me year after year. I’m well aware football is becoming a cynical game but my problem with that is some teams are highlighted and others are let away with blue murder and not a peep from them in there.
    On a side point re The Sunday Game I was very disappointed they did not make Eamonn dissect his counties performance and nail them like he nailed Galway with his jibes. Then again it probably would just turn it even more into the Eamonn O’Hara show then he is already trying to make it. Abusing his soap box positin after 2 weeks. He has a neck like a jockeys…..

  2. On the Sunday Game. I really think that programme needs to be looked at properly. The analysts are not doing their job any more, which is to properly analyse and dissect matches without bias. They seem to be there primarily to attract attention and hype.
    Brolly last week launched a scathing and personal attack on Paul Grimley, O’Hara last night launched another personal and withering verbal assault on Walsh, with incredible accusations surrounding the Roscommon job. Neither of these managers have the right to reply. This affected us last year before the All Ireland, as has been mentioned here before, where Brolly repeatedly highlighted our cynical tactics, without making mention of Donegal. O’Rourke rightly pointed the hypocrisy of this yesterday when Brolly finally made reference to the cynical fouling of Donegal around the middle of the field. How was this impartial?
    Eamonn O’Hara, a guy I never really warmed to before I must admit, was shocking last night and looks to be a new Brolly. Gone are the days where Spillane and Tohill used to actually analyse matches.
    Compare this yesterday to where the hurling pundits were able to offer proper analysis of the hurling (Donal Og in particular showed an ability to outline important aspects Henry Shefflin’s influence on games – proper analysis). The Sunday Game has a lot to answer for and I am getting repeatedly disappointed with the childish behaviour being displayed on it.

  3. RTE Sport in general needs a kick up the arse. When I saw Des “eat the buns” Cahill sitting on the couch in the build up to yesterdays game I had to get the kids back from the tele because I thought he was going to blow up! Jesus, he has wintered well. Apart from his intellectually challenging question, not once but twice, to the intellectually challenged O’Hara “why aren’t you on the team?” he is a very poor presenter. If that’s what RTE get for vastly overpaying for poor presenters then I for one will be telling Minister Rabbitte to stick his new tv license fee where the sun don’t shine. In all fairness, he is a tv presenter and as such he should look presentable.
    I work with a few Sligo lads, and while they admit their team let them down, they are furious over O’Haras comments. One said to me, “don’t worry, he wont be in Montrose all week, he has to come home to us eventually”. As I was told a long long time ago, you never ever shit on your own doorstep.

  4. Donegal look a force in Ulster now and will take some stopping. Having said that Tyrone (similar to last year) failed to take their chances when they were on offer. a lot of pressure was put on Niall Morgan and he failed to deliver. Having said that the conditions were completely against him (and Tyrone who are smaller and favor a pacier day). Donegal prevailed however on a good day (perhaps in Croker) I don’t think the likes of Cluxton would miss half those chances.

    Congrats to London too. It’s tough on Sligo to have to take the shame however it has been coming a long time. As you pointed out WJ they also were the architects of their own downfall – if they had taken that point to level it they would probably have comfortable won in extra time. O’Hara was a disgrace on the Sunday game. As rightly pointed out those accusations regards the Roscommon job were just scandalous. I don’t think Des Cahill was expecting it and he shrank back from asking any more questions after the rant.
    There’s a lot of talk about it on the GAA boards and one comment made was regards the fact that all the clubs in Sligo (bar 2) backed Walsh for the management job. And neither of those two were O’Haras club !

  5. Well done to London. It’s been coming a while now
    I’m not sorry for Sligo,they enough depth in the county to avoid this but losing o hara didn’t help. I suppose Walsh will be gone after this performance, maybe Galway will want him?
    Donegal are looking strong, however, a tougher referee will stop a lot of their tactics and if jeering an amateur player while he’s taking a free is going to be the new method of winning then we may as well pack it in. Not a lot of sportsmanship by donegal players, mcguinness and even less from their fans.
    Hopefully Mayo can get to meet them later this summer.

  6. We hammer the shite outta Galway – dont read too much into it
    Donegal beat Tyrone well – and half the country is hiding under the couch.
    Seems a bit odd, thats all.

    WTF is it with us and our club championship? Other counties dont seem to get this many injuries to their county men, or do they and I just dont notice.
    I dont think they should be wrapped in cotton wool, but just when we get a few back a few more seem to get hit and to paraphrase that film “lock, Stock and 2 Smoking Barrels” – would everyone stop getting f*cking injured!!!!

    Obviously I know no more on his injury than anyone else, but having suffered chronic dislocated shoulders over the years myself, I dont believe he will need surgery until after the season, BUT theres a chance it will happen again until he has the surgery. When it happens once, unless its put back in absolutely perfectly (and even then) it has a strong chance of coming out again. The surgery is needed to basically sew the tendons back in around it again and leaves you with a grand “sharkbite” scar.
    Hopefully this will be the case, but if it is, I really hope it doesnt impact his game. Its very difficult to carry an injury like that around knowing it could go at any stage, very difficult not to start subconsciously minding yourself and I’m sure every FB or CHB will be testing it for him if he is with us for the rest of the season.
    Who then for the frees against the Rossies? Dillon from one side, Andy for the 45s?

  7. on Donegal, it doesnt take long for the wheel to turn from popularity to dislike.
    I’m not sure if you get overly sensitive when someone wins and start looking for a different attitude, but some of my Donegal friends are starting to sicken my hole with, what I perceive at least, is their superior attitude, God, if we ever win it I hope we dont get like that. Funny thing is, they werent like that after last September, it seems to have bedded in over the winter. Maybe its just me.
    Kerry are to me, the best examples of the attitude to have as winners. They wind the Cork people up no end, but have always found them quiet humble in victory, the way I hope we would be.
    I suppose they are used to it, and its like the new money V old money analogy. Donegal are probably like the council house dwellers who just won the lotto and go around flashing the cash and acting all loud. Kerry are the ones who were born with the money and wear it alot easier and calmer.

  8. And the call that football ?
    I’m really beginning to dislike this donegal team, their officials and the way they carry on. I think the picture above says it all, Tyrone’s Cavanagh surrounded by NINE Donegal players. Puke football indeed. I thought Tyrone would have known this and had a plan to deal with it, but they didn’t but surely they missed a lot of opportunities. This Donegal team live on the edge and were lucky in some regards yesterday.
    The carry on of their officials on the sideline. ….and running on and around the field. Why don’t the ref’s card these fukers.?

  9. to prevail in Carrick-on-Shannon to book their place in the Connacht final for the first time since they won it under John O’Mahony’s stewardship back in 1994.


    Leitrim reached the 2000 Connacht they haven’t won it since 1994. I think London’s win in 1977 was in Carrick.

    O’Hara was wrong to wash Sligos dirty linen in public Des Cahil and co are woeful viewing can TV3 or TG4 not take over and do a better job?

    I see Roscommon have picked up a few injuries themselves in club games and Donie Shine their main free-taker/scorer is unlikely to start on June 16th.

  10. It didn’t bed in during the winter, sure they had the same attitude even before the All Ireland Final last year.

  11. I must be warped or something but I admired every bit of the way Donegal went about their business.

    Excellent tactics to hold back all the Tyrone lads and stop them from any chance of a quick free kick. Great way they stood in front of the young goalie and put him off. The two magees giving an excellent physical display in the full back line. And the 3 lads up front pure class with their finishing.

    Rather than moaning about their style, trying to derive a plan to beat them would be interesting.

    I reckon the way to go about it is only with short kick outs and to hold possession in your own half back line until they (if they) decide to come out and dispossess you, then a couple of fast breaks through the middle with one of your corner backs joining the attack.

    Tyrone no longer have counter attacking players like they had in the frame of Dooher and Ricey, if they had then perhaps the result would have been different.

  12. Donegal under big Jim are pure winners and they couldn’t care less if they become the most hated county team in Ireland. From what i seen of them yesterday they are well set up to retain their All Ireland title it’s up to the others (including Mayo) to stop them.

  13. Actually only a few teams out there to trouble Donegal. Yes they are cynical and arrogant and yes Brolly is an idiot and a raging egotist but that is hardly news.
    In relation to O Hara he gave no analysis only a poor effort at ingratiating himself with the Brolly brigade.
    Mayo need to keep the head down and work on the panel game. It was interesting that despite Brollys little story about McGuinness not taking off key players, he did exactly that. You have to admire the way McGuinness used his full panel though to good effect.
    Roscommon are not seriously at Mayo’s level. May not have Shine (who wasnt going well anyway) or Domican (who was). Kilbride and Cregg will offer some hope but thats all in my view.
    Mayo surely ready to take the mantle of favourites without pushing the self destruct button at long last!

  14. Every second comment seems to contain bad language. This has only started happening in the last week or two i will put it down to pressure of championship keep the comments coming but mind the language mayo supporters are above that. Its such a pity that TV3 do not broadcast a Gaa program on Sunday nights to give those clowns in the Sunday game some competition.

  15. whilst donegal were very good and utterly in control against tyrone, i think tyrone are overated. look at their championship record over the last two years. all they beat last year was armagh (went out to roscommon) & roscommon (who beat armagh). Lost to donegal and kerry (pretty convincingly). 2011 they beat monaghan, longford, armagh and roscommon and lost to donegal and dublin. since they won the all-ireland in 2008 prob the best team they’ve beaten is kildare. bar donegal the closest they’ve come to any of the current top 5 is 5 points. prob the 6th or 7th best team in the country.

    Tyrone hit 10 or more wides on sunday and whilest a lot of them were from frees they actually managed to stay in the game until the wides (and points) dried up in the 4th quarter. donegals defence breaks so quickly and efficiently that i think your better off hitting a wide than losing the ball to them. also in every donegal match paul durcan seems to gather quite a few balls that drop short would u b as well to leave a man on the edge of the square and if not challenge in the air at least tactically foul him and stop donegal breaking out. as a ref blows up for much less when a keepers involved it might yield the tickings and bookings it would further out the field

  16. All comments above noted……Great span of views and insights.

    Just to offer a few of my own – yesterday Donegal looked formidable, they certainly showed fitness and strength and in the end, with their two winning goals in the bag, frustrated Tyrone (who I still believe are a good team in the making) with a barrage of drags, pull-downs and cynical smiley showboating…….Near the end, their two big men feigning injuries was pathetic, particularly McFadden……. Add to that their constant mouthing, and what seemed to be the perfecting of the ugly art of ‘clothes-lining’ an on-running man, all around the field………..Maybe that’s the way to do it, but I don’t believe that Mayo should ever sink to that level. Win or lose, let’s never go there.

    Look…..I love the tough contact sport that our game is…..when played within the limits…..In my opinion, although rare these days, there is no better sight than a back sweetly fielding a high one, then weathering a solid hard shoulder from a tackling forward, putting the forward fairly on his arse and clearing his lines….In my book that’s toughness for you, not the pulling and dragging we saw in the second half yesterday.

    The ref certainly contributed to the manner in which yesterday’s game degenerated towards the end……He let lots of stuff go, and not always in the best interests of ‘keeping the game flowing’.

    Let’s hope we get another crack at Donegal this Autumn…

  17. Getting bogged down with Donegal too early. Lets not leave any hostages to fortune. If and when the time comes and we get to meet only one thing matters and that’s to beat them. They do what they do and we will do what we have to do.

  18. Think Donegals performance is being slightly overrated here!,

    I thought Tyrone had chances once they drew level to push on but they were haunted with wides – same as the league final against Dublin, they just don’t seem to have the killer instinct upfront especially when Stephen O’Neil has a quite day, there is a lot more football to be played lads and plenty of twists and turns before September, I just hope at this stage that Thursdays news isn’t as bad as we are all expecting and if it is well its up to James the players to find a workable solution – where there is a will there is a way, this should be our only mantra one game at a time!

  19. I always felt that Donegal would win, for the reasons I previously stated, but also because I felt that Tyrone were not all that great to begin with. Tyrone are a heavy, muscular team that look like they have overdone the weights a little. Its not just the tight jerseys that make them look that way, or the gps systems they all seemed to be wearing, but to me they lack real speed and agility. The type of speed that defenders hate and the type of movement and agility that can get defences off-balance. Later in the year when the pitches are harder and drier (hopefully!!!) that is when the speed merchants come to the fore, e.g. Conroy, Darren & Declan O’Sullivan and McMenamon and the agility of Brogan, Cooper and McBrearty will leave defenders on their arse. Tyrone lack that type of physique. They have the straight hard running of Harte and Penrose which can be easy for structured defenses to deal with and they have the genius of Stephen O’Neill who sadly appears to be on the wane. Even if he isn’t, a man in front of him and his marker behind him will nullify the threat.
    For all the talk about Donegals performance, I felt there were certainly chinks in the armour. Firstly, Tyrone gave away 4 or 5 very soft frees in scorable positions to help Donegal settle into the game. Donegal led 4-1 but conceeded the next 5 points and for large periods of the game were soundly beaten at midfield. Tyrone were guilty of 5 or 6 bad wides in that first half not to mention the 2 occasions where they could have gone through for a goal chance but elected to take the point. They failed to play quicker diagonal ball into O’Neill (where he won the first 2 balls into him) instead they played alot of sideways ball and only looked to him when the Donegal defense had regrouped. Donegal deserved their win as they pulled away in the last 15 mins, but they are beatable. A strong fair ref with sideline officals that will punish the Donegal bench/management when they deserve it would go a long way. Despite what the media and McGuinness think, they didn’t reinvent the game. They have just perfected the art of snide cynical fouling added to an outstanding PR campaign that paints them as the lovely wee boys from the poor deprived county. At least when Meath were in their pomp in the mid 80’s to mid 90’s they were a hateful shower of bastards and were only too happy to protray themselves as that and play up to it. Rightly so.
    This isn’t sour grapes, it is just stating facts.
    Donegal are not some unbeateable force playing a never-seen-before-style of football. They just push things as far as they are allowed (I wont say as far as the rules allow because they constantly push way beyond that) and allied to a terrific work rate and a couple of talented forwards they do what they do very well.

  20. Sorry, “conceeded the next 5 points” it should have been conceeded the next 4 points!

  21. I agree Pebblesmeller, despite their winning margin, I too think Donegal were beatable. Tyrone had many, many opportunities to take the game from Donegal. Their failure to convert those frees’ was sickening! It sapped the life out of Tyrone and gave Donegal the impetus to push on. They are very disciplined and go about their business in an almost robotic, predictable way…I’d just love to have seen Donegal playing from behind in a big game; they just may have come undone. Tyrone let them off the hook, IMO.

  22. Good accurate post Pebblesmeller. Exactly my sentiments. Be interesting when some team lead Donegal and put them under real pressure. I would’nt rule Tyrone out of the running this year. Mickey Harte will be looking for revenge.

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