The weekend’s action

Kiltane Charlestown

Photo: Mayo Advertiser

There was plenty of championship football on yesterday and today, both of the local club variety and at inter-county level as the early season provincial and qualifier action continued apace.

Club stuff first, where, when the music stopped in the late afternoon today, the identity of those who’d made it to the quarter-finals, those eliminated and those dragged into the relegation play-offs were revealed in both the senior and intermediate championships. Mayo GAA have a handy summary of all this (here) and the Mayo Advertiser has a round-up of the weekend’s action (here).

From a county perspective, it doesn’t appear that there’s been any new injury scares arising from the weekend’s club action. David Clarke didn’t line out for Ballina, though, due to an unspecified knock picked up in midweek but Cillian O’Connor, Alan Dillon and Andy Moran all saw action off the bench for Ballintubber and Ballaghaderreen respectively.

Onto the inter-county scene where the main focus of today’s action was at Croke Park, with the Leinster football semi-final double-header drawing a crowd of over 50,000 to HQ.

We got there at half-time in the curtain-raiser, the match between Meath and Westmeath, and I was a bit hacked off to see that Meath were seemingly coasting to victory in that one at the midway point. I’d hoped that the day’s first match might at least be competitive, as there seemed precious little hope that the Dublin-Kildare one would be.

The second half between Meath and Westmeath saw the unfolding of an extraordinary comeback story, however, with the Lake County overturning an eight-point half-time deficit to win by four. The win was their first ever in the championship over the Royals and central to this achievement were two-goal hero Kieran Martin and Westmeath’s marquee man up front, John Heslin, who ended the day with 1-9 to his credit.

Some were quick to point to Westmeath’s uplifting win in support of the argument that change is not required to the structure of the football championship. I’m not so sure about this. Results like today’s are very much the exception rather than the rule and when Westmeath are torn to shreds by Dublin in the Leinster final, as they surely will be, then this historic win will rank as little more than a footnote in a provincial contest that is now utterly devoid of any competitive impetus.

Dublin proved this in pretty brutal fashion in the way they ripped though Kildare in today’s other Leinster semi-final. The Dubs were very, very good but poor Kildare were worse than awful and once they’d conceded those two early goals the match was reduced to target practice for their opponents.

The pace dropped completely after the break, with Dublin easing off for much of the second half while Kildare repeatedly lost their way and lost control of the ball every time they attempted to gain a foothold in Dublin’s half. Near the end, Dublin upped the ante once again and more goals – as well as the continual drip-feed of points – followed. The Short Grass County ended up taking a massive 19-point beating at the finish.

Dublin will inevitably seal a fifth successive Leinster title next month, their tenth in eleven seasons, where there’ll be very little fanfare when they complete this particular provincial five-in-a-row. If in Connacht the general perception is that the gap between us and the chasing pack is narrowing as we aim to close out on five successive Nestor Cup titles, in Leinster it’s abundantly clear that an already yawning chasm between Dublin and everyone is widening all the while.

73 thoughts on “The weekend’s action

  1. The one reason I think Westmeath can keep it close (less than 6 points) is that they have big physical forwards. They seen the damage they can do when they get them the ball.
    Diarmuid Connolly today played like he was out practising shots and moves on his own. Flynn/Kilkenny/Connolly/Brogan/McManamon/Rock/Brogan Sr.
    With Kilkenny being on form they are almost unbeatable. Only thing you can do is try and create some mismatches size wise on their defence.

  2. Jp,
    I can’t agree, Westmeath will be devoured in the final, for certain. Size up front is fine but Dublin are almost like a professional team drawn from a pool of players 20+ times the size of Westmeaths playing population, those numbers count.
    Leinster is now a one man show, and out of the next 10 Leinster titles Dublin will win 8 or 9 easily if the championship is left as is, Dublin with huge funding, huge numbers of players and all their games played at “home” will not be caught in Leinster. In the other provinces at least you have Sligo/Galway Roscommon, tipp/cork and Armagh/ Monaghan pushing their way up with realistic provincial title claims, in Leinster the second best team to Dublin were shredded today by them by 19 points. What’s the point in any Kildare player busting his ass next January when he knows that he and his team to travel to Croker and face a team that can destroy them at will?
    Tonight , I’ll say this, Dublin will walk through Leinster final, in 1 st gear, bar Kerry,mayo or donegal I cannot see anyone even giving them a game.
    Mayo are best setup to stop them and only because it’s semifinal and it’s dublins first real test all year long and Mayo have had time to see what they need to do to hold them out from goal.

    All provided that Mayo keep focussed and take care of Sligo and draw a medium power like Wexford or Monaghan at quarter stage.

  3. JP,

    I’m afraid it will be more like a 16 points than 6 margin in the Leinster final. Westmeath have done absolutely nothing in the past few years to suggest that they can live with the Dubs. The trouble is that there is so much competition in the Dubs panel that no player can afford to relax and take things easy at any stage of a game. So Westmeath are in for a pounding. It will be interesting to see how Meath respond in the qualifiers. Like Roscommon! I’m tempted to go to Breffni next w/e to see the Rossies.

  4. I expect they will be trashed by Dublin. But I believe them to be the only team in Leinster capable of staying with 6 pts.
    But to do that they need to have 70 mins of perfect attacking strategy. They might get 20-30 mins is the reality.

  5. Probably best Dublin hammer everyone they meet and land cold into a semi final possibly against us 😉

    Ah great comeback from Westmeath yesterday yesterday. Heslin in a fine player who I wouldn’t mind having in our team. Qualifier draw this morning:

    Derry v Wexford
    Tyrone v Meath
    Tipperary v Louth
    Armagh v Galway

    A tough away game for Galway but one they can win in my opinion. I listened to the Armagh v Wicklow game and if Wicklow didn’t hit so many wides they would have been much closer. Hard to see Meath overturn Tyrone in fortress Omagh.

  6. Cant see Westmeath really laying a glove on Dublin. With the odd exception (Sligo – Roscommon), the division thing really does show a teams worth. In fact the powers that be could be accused of eventually having got the league so right that its adding to this huge gulf. The longer teams survive and prosper in Division 1 the wider the gulf between those teams who bounce around Division 2 and 3.
    Meath just completely stopped playing and could still have at least drawn had they done the right thing with the ball at key times in the last 10 minutes, like put it over the bar.
    Its extremely rare to see a team completely dominate midfield for as long as Westmeath did yesterday, normally you might get 15 minutes but the opposition change something or just 5 minutes themselves. Westmeath are limited but Meath just collapsed.
    I guess RTE will now have to cross that lazy cliché off their list of lazy clichés for the next few years “Meath are never beaten”, ah yeah, they are,

  7. While Dubs are way better than anyone else in Leinster Westmeaths win shows the beauty of championship and the brilliance of sport. Imagine how their supporters must feel this morning having never beaten their neighbours before. They should enjoy their success and worry about dubs later. Can still remember feelings of delight when we beats dubs in 2006 before being hammered by Kerry in AIF.

  8. Dublin will annihilate Westmeath. It’ll be nearer 26 than 6

    Hopefully it’s the same story in the quarter, if we are to meet them in the semi we need them as untested as possible

    What an exciting match yesterday though and I was thoroughly surprised- we’ll do well see a better free flowing game all year. The way Meath folded though was a joke, and they really are a team in crisis. John Heslin really is a class act for Westmeath. We could potentially meet them in the quarter ourselves though- and the way it’s going Dublin may not be the only untested team- but that’s for another day

    I see Galway drew Armagh away this morning. Winnable but a dirty, dirty draw going up North on a Saturday evening. That could have been ourselves so it’s further proof that we just cannot ever afford to take our eye off the ball in Connacht

  9. Oh and I’d forgotten Donegal. Completely brought back down to earth. Pity, I was loving all this ridiculous over-hyping they were getting from some quarters

    Monaghan will have a fine chance in the final however Donegal will probably grind it out. Very hard see an AI in them though, they really looked clueless at times on Sat from the bits of the second half I ended up watching

  10. It’s tough to be a Meath supporter these days. Only 14 years since they were the most feared team in the land going into the 2001 AIF having hammered Kerry by 15 points. Look at them now.

  11. Ciaran I wouldn’t call Donegal over-hyped. They have had a visit from Sam remember.

    Baffles me how some on this site knock the teams that have been there and done it, while not seeing any issues with our lads, and we have constantly failed to do it

  12. Donegal are building nicely and will welcome Saturday night’s deflating of the hype. There’s absolutely no point shooting the lights out in June. They’re looking towards Kerry in a semi-final, and the lower their profile coming in to that, the better they’ll like it.

    Dublin, on the other hand, have no way of avoiding the hype. It’s not their fault that no-one in Leinster can give them a game. But it does mean that they’re set up for the kind of shock they got last year. They have no way of knowing if they can overcome a challenge until that challenge arrives.

  13. yeah Ger that’s exactly it by questioning “SOME” that completely lost the run of themselves when Donegal beat a woefully limited Armagh, I’m automatically ‘not seeing any issue with our lads’

    What on earth do Mayo even have to do with that?

    You can only criticise teams if you’re from donegal, kerry or Dublin?

  14. Watching Dublin play, you have to admire the skill of Diarmuid Connelly, admittedly under little pressure.. on the other hand watching MDMcC iritates the he’ll out of me.. I don’t know what it is, maybe it’s the basketball style of playing, the quick flick pass (half of which I don’t believe are legal passes at all) or the whole confidence thing just dripping off him.. but I would love for us to get a chance at them this year and 4 Boyler to meet him with a square shoulder and put him sitting on his h*/e.. but first things first, we need to ease pass Sligo with little fuss, move on nothing to see here

  15. Yeah I’m convinced a lot of MDMA’s handpasses are not legal at all, I’m glad someone else mentioned it

    damn effective player though, even if so limited skill-wise.

    I wonder will they persist with fenton or move COS up to allow James McCarthy back in? Ger Brennan for Small then

  16. Hmm just saw today that the a/b side of the qualifiers work differently to last year

    Assuming we do beat Sligo, we will have to play a team coming through the B side

    So likely one of Tyrone, Monaghan/Donegal, Armagh, galway.

    Where we in the A side we could be coming up against Kildare, Westmeath, Cork (admittedly tricky), Cavan/Ros

    I know which one I’d rather and it’s not the side we’re in!

    we could well have one hell of a tricky quarter this year, even if we do win Connacht. In fact it’s pretty much guaranteed we will

    Why on earth can’t they do open draw though anyway? I miss the fun of the random QF draws from 2 years ago and before 🙁

  17. If we are to go all the way this year we might as well do it the hard way! Donegal in the quarters, Dubs in the semi, and Kerry in the final. 🙂 That’s the way to win it!!
    Donegal won it the hard way in 2012. If we’re good enough, we’ll win, simple as that.

  18. One thing is for sure in our hypothetical Dublin semi we will likely have been tested far more in our QF!

    That said they could get kerry too 😮

  19. I’ve been wrecking my head trying to work put this A & B seeding this year.
    I assumed we were in B from the start of the year, but when I read the Independent each Monday they have “A side” quoted beside us and Sligo for the Connacht final (the Munster final also has “A side” beside it, Ulster and Leinster have B).

  20. Connolly is a class act. He guides his goals in.
    Donegal struggled as Derry are decent.
    Does anyone think Meath can beat Tyrone? Switch their goalie and have Graham Reilly back for full 70mins. Both would have made a huge difference.
    Tyrone have lost 6 panellists and Meath can solve some of their second half problems.

  21. dan it’s a load of nonsense to me 🙁

    I guess the only way we can find out is bate Sligo and see from there!

    Why oh why they can’t just go with the ‘old’ way 🙁

  22. All those sentiments I agree with entirely !!!
    That Donegal football has only yet won one all Ireland. And yet it has caused so much anguish. Maybe it should be banned or curtailed. How?
    Those Dubs have to be starved of ball. How?
    And yes , I think one or two of them are calling for some kind of clip!
    Dubs are meeting nothing indeed but as little brolly says they re competing within their own number which can be v fruitful
    To my mind now there are only three teams left!

  23. liberal role in the tie says it all above really.

    no trying to pick our way into an easy semi or final. just be able to beat the best teams and not rely on anyone else doing us a favour. Straight up, no kiss.

  24. From my understanding of the draw on the GAA website, the run in is as follows:

    Round 2A football qualifiers:
    Antrim v Fermanagh
    Offaly v Kildare
    Clare v Longford
    Cavan v Roscommon

    Two teams will emerge from this group to play the losers of the Connaught and Leinster Finals. The winners of THOSE games go into the Quarter Finals with the provincial winners of Connacht and Leinster.

    Round 2B football qualifiers:
    Derry v Wexford
    Tyrone v Meath
    Tipperary v Louth
    Armagh v Galway

    Two teams will get through to play the losers of the Munster and Ulster Finals. The winners of THOSE games go into the Quarter Finals against the winners of Munster and Ulster Finals.

  25. @ Luigi

    I believe the winners of Connacht are down to play the 2 winners of the B side of the qualifiers, which include the defeated provincial finalists of Leinster and Ulster.

    Therefore, in the *event* that we win the Connacht Final, these are the teams that we could still potentially face in the quarter finals on August 8th.

    Dublin/Westmeath/Meath/Louth/Wexford
    Derry/Donegal/Monaghan/Tyrone/Armagh
    Galway
    Tipperary

  26. Digits is correct

    It has changed from last year- that’s why there appears to be confusion

  27. @MayoMark

    No. Even if we lose to Sligo, we’re still on the B side of the draw and would face one of the following teams to emerge: Derry/Wexford, Tyrone/Meath, Tipperary/Louth or Armagh/Galway.

  28. If the loser of monaghan and Donegal wins their back door match (you’d have to think they will) am i correct in saying we are guaranteed to play them?

    That’s a tricky quarter final.

    I’d certainly prefer Monaghan though, so will be shouting on Donegal in the Ulster final! They should have enough for them you’d imagine.

    That said Tyrone, Armagh or even galway with momentum could be a tough nut to crack after losing a provincial final

    there could be twists yet.

    Sligo is all we’re focusing on now however!

  29. I can’t make any sense of it myself Luigi

    One thing that does annoy is that by last year’s ‘system’ we would be looking at possibly Westmeath in a quarter rather than Monaghan/Donegal

    But as I constantly say they should just do away with this daft system altogether.

    The open draw AIQF was great for me. Tuning into the draw on Sunday night before Race week was one of the highlights of recent years for me

    Still we can’t change it!

  30. I’ll get shot by WJ for this given Vincent’s are his club but Connolly is so over-rated at times. I know the pundits change their tune like the wind but Brolly saying Connolly was the most talented player in Ireland at halftime on Sunday was borderline lunacy! At his best he’s fabulous to watch, a lot like Dec O’Sullivan before him, very natural, pacy and completely two footed.

    But he isn’t and never will be in the same league as the Gooch, talent or consistency wise. And it’s consistency that’s his problem. When Connolly is bad, which he often is, he does things the greats would never do – see his first shot at goal last weekend for example. I’ve seen him miss chances like a Junior B corner forward, everyone misses but he looks so ordinary when he does. Paul Flynn for my money is a much better player and so under-rated by many. Scores and contributes as much as DC but just not as stylish. 4 All Stars to 1 tells it’s own story. O’Donoghue, Cavanagh, Flynn, B Brogan, Cooper, M Murphy, C O’Neill, C McManus all players I’d have ahead of him.

    Glad I got that off my chest!! 🙂

  31. Home advantage is a real plus in the qualifiers so you’d have to give the nod to Tyrone for that one.. in fact, of all the draws today the only one I can see winning away are galway but then last year l thought Roscommon were going to storm through the qualifiers and cause a few upsets along the way but in the end went out with hardly a whimper against Armagh I think.. so we’re all just guessing like

  32. If we beat Sligo I’d like to see us in Qf against a strong Ulster team or Galway and definitely not a weaker Leinster team or Armagh who will teach us nothing. Don’t even care if its Donegal, our team needs tough games and a few chances to work an effective defensive system. Galway have long journey for fans and players, hoping they survive it.

  33. I think connolly slightly overhyped too. He’s not fit to lace the gooches boots ffs, couldn’t believe joe and pat saying that on Sunday. Connolly has never done it in an all ireland final for example – Lee Keegan put him in his pocket in 2013 and in 2011 he was quiet enough too. In my book, to be classed as a great you need to be turning in MOTM performances in all Ireland finals. Sean cavanagh, padraig Joyce, gooch, these guys have single handedly dragged their teams over the line at Croker in an AI final. To me that’s true greatness.

  34. So can we get Ross in the last 8 or what?
    I just saw that Ross beat Cavan in 2014 by 11 points in the qualifiers up there! I had totally forgotten about that!!

  35. @ MayoMark No!

    @Ciaran I think we can draw the winners of either of the 4B round qualifiers, So we can draw either of two teams:

    Draw Possibility i: Winner of “Provincial Ulster Losers v One of eight teams still left in B side qualifiers”

    Draw Possibility ii: Winner of “Provincial Leinster Losers v One of eight teams still left in B side qualifiers”

    Hence it could still be any of the 12 teams I named in my post above.

  36. Funny but I would be just as worried about Jack McCaffrey this year than Connolly, maybe more so even. In the last year or two McCaffrey has come on leaps and bounds from his questionable YPOTY award in 2013. We witnessed his strength in the league in Castlebar this year and that combined with savage speed and clever runs, he needs serious watching. I think he will be key for Dublin this year and that is evident already in their demolition job of Leinster. Just looking at Paddy Power, and at 33/1 for player of the year, there are far worse bets…

  37. Digits, say Monaghan lose to donegal and then win back door match surely they can’t draw Donegal again?

    So automatically get ourselves*

    *Again IF we beat Sligo

  38. The Dublin player who impressed me most on Sunday, in particular early on when the match was still a contest, was Ciaran Kilkenny. He kicked three superb points from play in that period and looked as dangerous as they come. He’s obviously back firing on all cylinders again after the cruciate and I reckon he could be huge for Dublin later this summer.

  39. Agree WJ kilkenny has savage strength and looks very good this year so far. Anyone else feel maybe Paul Flynn a bit off colour this season compared to previous years? Still a good player though

  40. To make sense of the fixtures, let’s do some assuming.

    Let’s assume that Mayo beat Sligo and that Donegal beat Monaghan.

    That would leave the two quarter-finals on Saturday 8th August as follows:

    Mayo v 4B winner
    Donegal v 4B winner

    …and Round 4B would be:

    Sligo v 3B winner
    Monaghan v 3B winner

    Round 3B is just made up of the four winners of round 2B playing each other, i.e.:

    2B winner v 2B winner
    2B winner v 2B winner

    Round 2B is:

    Tyrone v Meath
    Armagh v Galway
    Tipp v Louth
    Derry v Wexford

    …and we’ll know those results in two weeks’ time.

    Now let’s say that Sligo and Monaghan beat whoever they meet in round 4B.

    As provincial finalists could not play each other again, that would mean the two quarter-finals would be:

    Mayo v Monaghan
    Donegal v Sligo

    That’s the simplest scenario. But football ain’t simple… ;o)

  41. They would have to beat the loser of Monaghan and Donegal, Mayo Mark. Unlikely but against Monaghan they might have a slight chance

    One of these years we are going to get a Mayo galway Croke Park clash I can feel it!

    Yes Ciaran Kilkenny was tremendous in the first half (didn’t bother with 2nd half). Thought he was very average in 2013, he looks seriously improved since that cruciate last season. That forward line is going to be near impossible to handle for any team

    Got them at 6/5 Saturday, they’ve gone into odds on since- no shock

    Can’t look past them at all, they’re clearly the best team in Ireland for me and they will at least get tested in their quarter this year most likely so very unlikely to be caught cold. Can’t meet Donegal till final anyway

  42. Yes Ciaran/Davy J,

    Provincial finalists can’t play the same opponents again in the quarters, so yes, it is likely we would be facing one of Monaghan or Donegal in the quarters. Although stranger things have happened.

  43. Hello, Surprise, Surprise that you have not commented on McGuinness’ analysis in the Irish Times on the new. DUBLIN and how they pack the D in the centre and give up man to man marking, he mentions Cluxton, 3man full forward rotating far apart and numerous other attributes of the new team. He sees the need for new plan to beat them. Donegal tactic will not work again. Food for thought.

  44. HopeSpringsEternal commented on it above, ciaran2.

    Interesting as usual from Jim. Expect Brolly to study it carefully and regurgitate it in his own column in the Sindo in the coming weeks while trying to pass it off as his own ‘analysis’.

  45. Meh Dublin beat themselves last year it wasn’t some ingenious tactics by Donegal

    Had Connolly stitched that goal they could have won by 20

    Donegal came down the pitch got a lucky goal and then suddenly started to believe and Dublin completely folded

  46. Jim McGuinness has now lifted football analysis on tv, radio and newspaper. Thats the most impressive GAA analysis I’v read in a long time. I did say last year only way to give an outside chance of beating the Dubs was to leave the square n D empty and attack into it from wings. Split out target men away from compressed cover in front of the goalie. Even at that Dublin almost won handy. This year they look unbeatable. Just big size mismatches out wide n powerful runners through the middle is all I can think of. Win battles on the wings and come with power close to goal.

  47. Football will be played long after Jim mcguiness is gone and hopefully it won’t be played the way he expected his team to play it. Donegal are a talented team and in last years final after Donaghys goal they played ball for a brief period and scored here great points. Then they collectively opened Jims required instruction manual (rules of my panel) and did what was relentlessly drilled into them and lost their advantage.

    Football is spontaneous and is best payed with flamboyance and developed skill and talent. The Donegal template was designed to negate skill, honour, talent and tradition. Tyrone developed black arts to gain that edge and it worked for them but Donegal developed a system that allows a team that haven’t put in the hours on the training filed to stifle a well prepared teams ambitions.

    Well all fair in love and war you might think but this s##t is permiating it’s way into every county’s club scene and the only looser will be the game and those of us who love what it brings to our parish, our club and our County. mcguinness does not deserve the OTT plaudits he is getting in my opinion, his North Korean type dictatorship as a manager is absolutely unhealthy in my view.

    Sport is something that should be enjoyed on and off the field by all. His outrageous treatment of some of his panell in the recent past abolishing an opportunity for a talented amateur player and the public humiliation for that player and the heartbreak for his parents and family are brushed aside while we hail the new Messiah. The prophet speaks and the authors of the quick fix listen and prepare to kick over the corner stones.

    I would respectfully say the best football teams in the country in 2015 are Dublin Kerry and Mayo but will Donegal win the Championship playing anti football ?? They just might,
    Maybe we should stop throwing rose petals on the path of Jim mcguinness as he rides into town on his hyenaesk ideology.

  48. Digits can Mayo meet tipp in th quarters I know am getting a bit ahead of myself but is tipp not in the same if they win all there games

  49. Yes Cait we can and in fairness it’s not as bizarre as it sounds

    Louth is very winnable and from there they could get a home match v Derry/Wexford which they’d surely quietly fancy. Heck, I’m sure they’d love a right rattle at galway again too at home. They would really need to get this round at home but if they do who knows

    Win that round and you could get Sligo which is very much a game that can be won also. Were Tyrone to come through the other side (quite possible) then it’d be an open draw as to which one could face Mayo

    While Tipp would need a fair bit to go there way to make quarters, in fairness they have a very winnable game next and might only need to cause one real upset and they could then get another very winnable one (50% chance) v Sligo*

    Crazy things can and have happened in the back door

    * again, assuming we beat Sligo. If we lose to them even better chance we get Tipp!

  50. Gamechanger10, Kerry played the “system” in last year’s final (or anti football as you like to call it). Of course, you’ll say they only did what they had to do to beat donegal at their own game and that’s fair enough. However, once you cross to the dark side you can’t continue to hold the moral high ground. Donegal lost that game as far as I’m concerned, it wasn’t anything special from Kerry. Apologies Willie Joe if I’ve gone off topic but I hold Jim mcguinness in very high regard and it annoys me no end when he is portrayed by some as some sort of pariah.

  51. Jim MxGuinness treatment of Kevin Cassidy was not great. But he was clearly trying to get the panel to follow a plan. Rory Gallagher cant be too pleased as McGuinness is giving away much more information about even their approach to Dublin last year. McGuinness plan was player lead and he gave them a training environment. If it was unenjoyable theyd have been mentally drained after 2013.
    Skill wise he has improved players and teamwork. Rory Gallagher has them maybe performing better.
    Iv trained under a true dictatorial manager and the typical dictator manager does not coach players and tries to constantly get in the minds of dividing the squad into winners n losers.I doubt McGuinness operated like that.
    If you show players a plan that progresses towards success day by day its probably far easier to enjoy training to that plan. Spontaneous football is overrated. Bar a few exceptions of brilliant players, talented individuals tend to take the ball on themselves n only pass when forced to. I dont like watching that kind of football as I think teamwork is the whole point of Gaelic football. Maurice Fitzgerald would indeed be used by a Jim McGuinness with his team getting him the ball within 40’yards of goal. When Kerry played like individuals they forced Fitzgerald to fight one on one for ball. Odhran MacNiallais is such a type of player. Iv noticed Donegal often get him the ball and dont force him into one on one contests.
    Look back at Mayo at under Johnno or Horan. Many of the same players, the modern manager with a team system concept I would say has been more enjoyable for players and been better football to watch.

  52. As I’ve said before, when Spillane raved about “puke football” (of Tyrone), you just knew he
    couldn’t accept being beaten by a better team.
    Pure begrudgery – Tyrone had NEVER won AI up to 2000.
    I keep hearing the same shite regards Donegal.
    Well they have only still won 2! And the year they won it v us was a super one for them – Even if it was to put me into serious depressed mode for the Winter of 2012.
    If we, Gamechanger, had have had a gamelan similar in 2004 and 2006 and it ensured we got a lot closer to – or maybe beaten – Kerry, then I would have gladly seen us sacrifice some of the individual skills n’ frills for a higher purpose!
    Some people never happy winning 30 or 40 All Irelands besides being seriously bitter when someone comes along every so often and puts a spanner in their works!
    Jaysus, LET IT GO!!!

  53. Gamechanger you’d swear kerry were some sort of innocent whiter than white purists reading that post. Cute hoorism at it’s best. Kerry were ultra defensive last year too but you will never hear any of their supporters saying it.

    Also do you think Eamon Fitzmaurice just sends his team out to play spontaneous football with no tactics then? Come off it – he’s just as tactically astute as McGuinness.

  54. Kerry adapt and learn very quickly. They cherry pick the most effective aspects of a team that beat them and try to prevent a repeat defeat. Yes they were defensive in last years final but that’s because they were playing a team that has fourteen men behind the ball, what else could they have done ?. If they were playing Dublin or Mayo would you have had a better final, chalk it down you would. Look at the Kerry Dublin game in 2013 and last years games v Mayo, they were great games and great occasions. The final against Donegal !! a bore fest and there is one reason for that and its name is Jim mcguinness.

    Our teams play a fantastic brand of football that is exciting and rewarding for all to watch and play in. Martin McHugh will say openly that the club scene in Donegal is gone to the dogs because of this stifling brand of football. In all county’s this crap is creeping in and the games and indeed the interest in them are diminishing as a result.

    Kerry setup to face the opposition based on experience and knowledge. Fitzmaurice is an excellent tactician and he got it spot on last year. The Dubs saddled up and ran straight into battle absolutely confident that they would have the skill to tear Donegal to shreds. They learned a very important lesson, in saying that I believe that If O Gara or Connolly had put those excellent opportunities away then Donegal would have had to come out of the trenches and they would have been annihilated.

    Who would the Mayo team rather face in football terms the Dubs, Kerry or the boa constrictor of the game mcguinness’s robots. The irony is that they have some fantastic footballers and have the players to win the final if they would only unplug them. I could watch Mayo or the Dubs all day as the skills of the game are a constant, look at the Meath v West Meath game at the weekend it was a joy to behold on so many levels. Donegal v Monaghan in a few weeks ?? It will be like watching a bad game of rugby as they eye each other up fron their own sides of the pitch, sorry but I think it’s utter s#+t and a long term disaster fot the game of football (or should I say handball !).

  55. Well pretty football is all very well and nice – if yer winning all Irelands as part of the bargain!
    Mayo as you know have lost their last seven and all these yrs we have heard people saying “ah sure Mayo play a lovely brand of football”
    Sure you’re saying it yerself oh you who’s endowed with a great gift of football knowledge G10.
    Well like a lot of folk here, I am sick of coming out of Croker 2nd best.
    You don’t really feel our pain coming from that Mighty Kingdom.
    If u did you might at least try to understand why those who don’t have all the flair and skill that some have, might try to add some other strengths to compensate.
    And if Mayo win an all Ireland with a few tricks from Jim’s book, well I will dance a merry jig, and toast him with my celebratory pt.
    And I might even salute you too up in your Ivory Tower!
    Horses for courses, eh?

  56. The thing is, Kerry will do whatever it takes both off and on the field to win the All-Ireland title. Jim McGuinness also brought Donegal to this level i.e. whatever has to be done to win, will be done. Tyrone in the 2000s did this as well. Kilkenny in hurling are the masters of it. Brian Cody spoke about this, what he said was, you need to have players who will pretty much kill on the field of play to win the match. At the moment we have never got to this level. An example of this is, the ease with which we concede goals when we shouldn’t. We are getting closer and closer all of the time to the level that is required. Only time will tell if we will arrive at this place. Our minors did 2013, we now need our seniors to do likewise.

  57. Gamechanger, sure look, we all have opinions
    and they are not always gona coincide.
    But I get a lot of what you are saying but
    just like HSE said there different teams have
    to take different measures to achieve their
    objective/s.
    So well put HopeSprings.
    On another topic G10, I watched the doc on
    Paudi last night and it was mighty stuff indeed!
    Tremendous, if controversial, character.
    Maybe not everybody’s total cup of tea but Jaysus I thought he was fascinating.
    I loved the wee clip with Dolly Parton and giving her the jersey.
    She definitely wud have pushed out that Co crest, had she donned it.
    A mighty footballer. Scenes in Westmeeath, after he guided them to the Leinster, were fantastic.
    You must have been proud to watch that sculpture of him go up.

  58. Overthebarshouting and hopespringseternal,
    Spot on, this is my opinion and it might grate on the nerves of many a proud Mayo Footballer and supporters! but I think it has merit. I held my fathers hand as he guided me into Fitzgerald stadium In the early seventies to ( “see Mick O Connell play our game) he wasn’t saying this is the was to play but he was so excited to show me a player that had all the skills of the game, I knew it had a place in the expected bowl of irish sporting life.. I still remember, the huge cheers when he caught the ball and delivered that pin point accurate pass to some talented forward (that didn’t have two Neanderthal backs thumping the crap out of him),

    Look at Higgins, O Shea or O Connor,, would you travel to watch them ? Absolutely you would because they bring skill, passion and an undeniable level of excellence to every theatre they honour with their endeavours. Nobody will complain after an exhibition of football like they will display, full stop.

    mcguinness developed strategies to nullify talent like theirselves, now some will point to individual moments or scenarios that replicate the total negative approach and attempt to justify the template. I must say someone who celebrates the suffocation of raw talent should not be placed on the same mantle as someone who spends their life teaching and devepong the necessary skills to best an opponent.

    Paudie might have been a bit rough around the edges but he is remembered for all the right reasons in football terms. Was he flawed, yes he bloody was but he knew what was important i,n our game. The bravery of belief and tradition and the ability to draw on the reservoir of talent learned and the confidence gained through years of training and team spirit

    With respect, I admire the players commitment to the donegal management but I question the attitude of a man that obsesses with a strategy to nullify sporting life skills with a mathematical approach to the natural spirit of expression and sport as we know it.

    If Ballintubber and Crossmolina adapted this strategy how many would watch but more importantly how many would speak proudly in the pub afterward of their club men.
    It would be a case of well they had a job to do,, after the final victory would their not be a sense of of something is wrong ??? Trust me that question would capture and define many a conversation in the pubs of Mayo..

  59. ( Sorry that should have read) mcguinness developed strategies to nullify talent like the the big three Dublin, Mayo and Kerry

  60. Overthebarshouting
    Ha ha I meant to mention a fabulously honest and complimentary tribute to the bauld Paidi O Se. An hour in his company was worth fifteen minutes on any stage with any company,, a real Rogue in any county

  61. Gamechanger10, do you think Kerry will go man for man marking should they meet the mighty Dubs later in the summer? And not try to stifle the amazing talent they possess? We shall see!

  62. Teams that have an abundance of skilled and talented players – as Dubs do now – and Kerry have had for donkeys yrs – will always find it so much easier to play the open, expansive game than teams who don’t!
    There are different categories of the latter.
    There are teams who have and never will have, the resources to compete on the level playing field, and so it is probably a matter of resignation with them.
    There are also those who can compete much better but who still know that a ‘man-to-man’ approach might not pay dividends.
    But they still want to win an all-Ireland for their proud people’s (Tyrone, Donegal)
    I prefer by a long way the free-flowing football, but if Mayo are to win Sam they may have to play an awful lot more of the defensive stuff and a style that might not always be easy on the eye!
    Lorrie has a fair point there too. If Kerry are faced with a rampant all conquering and unstoppable Dubs, they will very quickly turn to a plan B.
    As I’ve often said, I was happy for Tyrone and Donegal (in the latter case not too happy for ourselves) to win their all-Irelands. Not too fond of their styles but happy for them.
    As I would be thrilled if we got one now – Even with the more “Neanderthal” stuff”!
    And if we don’t have it as one of our main objectives to nullify the talented players among the opposition, well we won’t be winning no SamSoon, and I don’t know what the hell we would have been doing there in the First Place!!

  63. Yeah fair point I guess, but I just have reservations about the amount of praise a man gets for bringing his team to a level where they are willing to abandon most of the principles of sport. I just can’t imagine there is too much joy in the setup and I think they can really play football if he had left them.
    In relation to Mayo they are naïve regarding their defence and they need to tighten up but they won’t pull the entire team behind the centre field line and wait to thump the guts out of the opposing players as they advance. The men from the hills hit unbelievably hard with closed fists and this is part of their srtatagy as it wears down the other team on a physical level to assist their psychological failing.
    Give me Mayo or the Dubs and I will tip my hat when they beat us but not the others !! Good luck in the CF

  64. The phrase that comes to mind for me is, (Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me). I read somewhere that when Mickey Harte started managing the Tyrone minors, they reached an All-Ireland semi-final and Kerry beat them well scoring a number of goals in the process. From then on Harte vowed to sort out his defensive structure, from there on, All-Ireland titles followed. In Ulster, Donegal were often seen as a soft touch, that was until Jim McGuinness came along, he toughened them up and made them harder. Again he sorted out their defence, an All-Ireland title was their reward. In 2013, Kerry lost a shoot out to the Dubs in the All-Ireland semi-final. In the 2014 league, their defence was the meanest of all teams. They ended up as All-Ireland champions once they got their defence in order. Last year Dublin thought their scoring power would be enough to take Donegal out of the equation but it wasn’t. This year they have now put a new defensive structure in place. For us, in 2012 sloppy goals conceded was our undoing as it was in 2013 and 2014 as well. The other top teams have learned and adapted and have taken home all of the silverware. Will we ever lean and adapt, so far we have not. Time is running out for us to make the required changes but it is not too late yet!

  65. Yeah I totally agree, Donaghys impact was massive in the first semi final last year but in truth when he won that big high ball from the Geaney pass the Mayo management should have nullified him or at least tried something to make sure he didn’t steal the victory from them. Cafferky was cramping after a long hard game and Donaghy was fresh of the bench ,,,,, just crazy stuff and something I will never ever understand.
    I hope Mayo dont fall to an ultra defensive team as it is a depressing way to bow out of an All Ireland Championship. I think Roscommon would have been better opponents for ye in the CF and put ye on a better footing for the battles in Croker. Good luck

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