It was nice to sit back and relax on Easter weekend to watch the league finals played out on Saturday and Sunday without having to deal with the pressures and roller coaster emotions of the previous week.
Laois deservedly claimed the division four title with a fairly comprehensive victory over surprise finalists Carlow. After what was pretty much a turbulent week for Laois football because of a tweet sent out by star forward Gary Walsh that created all sorts of backlash it was nice they had silverware to end the week on a high.
Carlow will be disappointed with their performance but overall they have to be more than satisfied as they have been promoted to division three for the first time in 33 years.
The division three final between Armagh and Fermanagh was a much better and competitive affair. Neither team wanting to wilt with their impending match up in the Ulster championship. An opportunistic goal by Armagh full forward Andrew Murnin the score that clinched the title after the Fermanagh goal keeper failed to clear his lines.
The west’s awake
The division one and two finals were compelling viewing for us out west on the basis that two Connacht counties were taking centre stage. Roscommon claimed the division two title after what was as high a scoring game as we are likely to see in football.
The 4-16 to 4-12 final score was more resemblant of what we would see in a game of hurling. It was thoroughly enjoyable though. Defences were non-existent for the most part. Kevin McStay will be furious his team got opened up for three first half goals despite dominating for long periods.
Roscommon forwards Donie Smyth, Diarmuid Murtagh, and team captain Conor Devanney had 10 points among them in the opening period. After conceding the first two goals Roscommon played some lovely football, hitting Cavan for seven points on the spin to go in 0-12 to 3-2 up at half time, Dara McVeety running riot for Cavan in the opening half.
If we thought the second half could not get any more bizarre we were wrong as The Rossies took Cavan for four goals to seal the division two title. Next season’s division one will proudly have three Connacht teams, three from Ulster, and one each from Munster and Leinster. Yet the general consensus is that Connacht football is not competitive.
Dublin see it out — but Galway impress in division one decider
The division one final between Dublin and Galway was a thrilling encounter, laced with some brilliant passages of play, superb scores, and some fantastic defending. Any notions we Mayo folk had, hoping that Galway would capitulate, were firmly put to bed. They are here for the long haul.
Dublin will however be bitterly disappointed they failed to capitalise on the red card issued to Niall Scully with 20 minutes to go. After Barry McHugh levelled matters with the resultant free kick you would have expected the Tribesmen to kick on. But in true Dublin fashion, they found a new gear and looked like it was they that had the extra man going down the stretch, winning by 0-18 to 0-14.
Despite being on the losing side, I felt Galway captain Damien Comer was the man of the match, he was simply peerless. Whatever Dublin threw at him he scattered them around like skittles. No matter how many defenders were in front of him he did not care. He put his head down and either got taken down for a scoreable free or else scored himself. Most definitely food for thought for Stephen Rochford for May.
Club championship heralds the arrival of the real stuff
The club championship kicks off this weekend with Castlebar Mitchels most definitely the team to beat. They have been very impressive in the opening two rounds of the league despite missing a host of players. When you add Donal Vaughan to the equation from last year’s squad, they become a more daunting proposition for any pretender to the throne. There are likely to be some mouthwatering contests but group one is a particular minefield with Ballaghadeereen, Ballina, and Aghamore in the same group as Castlebar.
Rice and Nathy’s go for schools glory
Best of luck to Rice College Westport and to my former school St Nathy’s Ballaghadeereen who play in the All-Ireland schools A and B finals in Croke Park on Saturday. There seems to be a bit of a football revolution going on in Westport, an All-Ireland schools title will only boost it no end. Both teams play Ulster opposition with Rice College taking on St Ronan’s College Lurgan and Nathy’s playing Holy Trinity College Cookstown.