The senior inter county championship has got off to a predictably drab start. Isn’t it a shame that we never have any fanfare attached to the commencement of our showcase GAA competition? The GAA just do the marketing thing any way at all. And looking at some of the attendances so far this year, one must draw the conclusion that it is time GAA HQ smartened up their act in this regard.
The games themselves have been quite ordinary, with all results running to fairly predictable outcomes. What we have witnessed however is that league and championship form are miles apart. For instance, I thought Meath looked particularly good yesterday as they fairly easily disposed of the Offaly challenge. I will accept that their defence looked fairly porous at times, but any team that has to deal with the scoring threat of Niall McNamee will have their hands full over the 70 minutes. He is a gifted footballer, (obviously taking his mother’s genes in this regard as I went to school with his dad and he could hardly kick a football out of his way! ). Offaly, however, were over reliant on one class forward. Meath on the other hand have a plethora of them. Big Joe Sheridan is a giant of a forward who will haunt full backs before this championship concludes. When you throw in the likes of Stephen Bray, Shane O’Rourke, and the brilliant free taking of Cian Ward, I imagine that bookies were quick off their marks to reduce the odds on Meath winning a Leinster championship at the very least this year.
Tyrone’s instinct to win championship matches flows effortlessly year on year it seems and so it proved again yesterday. Times and situations may change but the ferocious will and ambition never dissipate. Despite the heroics of a good Antrim side, there was little doubt that they would be disappointed and left waiting for the back door by the time the game came to an end.
Handling the hand pass
The main talking point of the championship to date has been the hand pass, or should that be the fist pass. I thought the issue would have died down last weekend, but unfortunately that wasn’t the case. In hindsight if the delegates at congress last April had decided that the ball could only be passed using the fist, there wouldn’t be an issue at all. What we have right now is a holy mess causing frustration all round. I am not sure how it can be resolved, but can you just imagine the consternation if a referee decided from 40 metres that a player racing in on goal in an All Ireland final, and perhaps to score a winning point, should be whistled up for an illegal throw of the ball! It would require bravery, or foolhardiness, of the highest order.
Dublin pose no challenge
I was in Hollymount last Friday evening to see Mayo play Dublin in a challenge match. Unfortunately it wasn’t a close contest and had little or no intensity throughout. What I did learn, however, was, that on the evidence of this game Dublin are a very average side. Mayo on the other hand went about their business diligently and won the game very easily. As I said it is difficult to make a judgement on this showing, but in the circumstances, Alan Freeman put on a fine exhibition of corner forward play in the first half. He was strong, direct, and accurate. Barry Moran was also quite impressive at full forward. I was pleased to see Ger Cafferkey having a right good tussle with Bernard Brogan. Ger had a fine game. If he can do the business marking a player the class and strength of Bernard Brogan, I feel he can deal with anyone.