It’s a wet and rather dreary Monday morning but, leaving our minor travails aside, it’s been an interesting weekend on the football front, in particular yesterday’s Munster final which saw the first heavyweight head-to-head clash of this year’s championship.
I’ll come back to that in a minute but first Roscommon are worthy of a mention. After safely negotiating their way through a tricky enough tie away to Cavan on Saturday evening, the Rossies are on the road again the weekend after next as this morning they were drawn away to Fermanagh in Round 3A.
Home advantage will make their job up in Brewster Park that bit harder and the Ernesiders, who were promoted to Division Two of the NFL in the spring, will be no pushovers. All of that ridiculously stupid big talk from John Evans aside, however, you’d have to think that Roscommon have the greater pedigree to push on from here and take a step closer to an All-Ireland quarter-final place.
Onto yesterday’s enthralling Munster final at Killarney, the first clash between two top-six counties in this year’s championship. Fair play to Cork, I certainly didn’t think they had that much fight in them but they proved beyond doubt that they had, first when roaring back into the match after the break and then again with less than ten minutes to go when Kerry had wrestled their way back into the lead and looked set to close out the expected win.
The day’s major talking point was, of course, the decision to award Kerry a penalty midway through the second half at a crucial juncture when Cork were three points up and really flying. Without doubt, the decision by ref Padraig Hughes – who, this howler aside, did well in often difficult conditions – had a huge bearing on the game’s outcome and most likely cost Cork what would have been a deserved victory.
What was striking to me, though, was that most if not all of the post-match talk about the penalty focused on the ref and not on James O’Donoghue, whose blatant cheating led to the penalty award. We know to our cost from Limerick last year just how good O’Donoghue is at conning refs – neither of the two penalties he won that day were valid ones either – and with another example under his belt from yesterday the current POTY is now a serial offender in this area.
It’s depressing that a player as talented as O’Donoghue stoops to this kind of stuff with such regularity. It’s also surely time that he was called out over something that is, sadly, becoming an increasing trait within the game. The way that soccer has descended into such a joke – where the ability to cheat effectively is now a core skill of the game – should serve as a warning about where Gaelic football could well be heading. Making an example of the tactics being repeatedly employed by the game’s current poster boy would surely be an appropriate way to help in halting this trend.