In the last number of weeks a few big GAA stories have escaped inches in my column because of the drama in the drawn All-Ireland semi final between Mayo and Kerry, the subsequent replay, and last but by no means least, the performance of the referee in that replay. I am putting that to bed now. You have to take your hat off to Jim McGuinness, his philosophies, and his way of thinking. He has his team so well fine tuned it borders on professionalism. He had a five day training camp prior to the Dublin game and the same again in the lead up to Sunday’s All-Ireland final. This all comes at a considerable cost, and along with some players being flown from Dublin to Donegal by helicopter for training it must mean some very generous individual or individuals are bank rolling it (that is of course if it is all true ).
You have to admire the way Donegal clawed back a big deficit against the Dubs and then steam rolled them and beat them into submission. The ever so composed Dublin players were shell shocked and you could visibly see the energy drain from their faces as they had no answer when Donegal put them to the sword. I find it hard to believe the All-Ireland final is on Sunday; of course it is not the same when you are not in it. Despite many disliking Kerry for what they have achieved in Gaelic football, I admire them but obviously I hope Donegal win on Sunday to keep on the right side of my in laws. Kerry are not the purists of the past and have had to implement a dirty streak to their game to achieve the right results. It will be interesting to see what McGuinness has in store to combat Donaghy and O’Donoghue, I imagine it will be something in the line of a McGee wall with Karl Lacey picking up the dangerous O’Donoghue. Sunday’s game will be fascinating and I still do not know who will win it. I expect Donegal to drain the life out of Kerry like they did to Dublin but I have been wrong before, hence the reason I am sitting on the fence. Will it be a draw?
Hurling should be named the sport of kings after the brilliant spectacle that was the drawn All-Ireland final. Two fiercely competitive teams going at each other from the get go. I hear many punters in the public houses of the England turned away from watching soccer to be enthralled by the hurling final. One tweet from a first time viewer described it as a “cross between cricket and hockey where you’re allowed murder each other with the sticks”. I cannot wait for the replay. It was somewhat of an anticlimax watching Ireland play Georgia after that.
Picking up the pieces can be hard for a club game
The Mayo club semi finalists have been decided at senior level with the only real big surprise of the weekend coming when Knockmore defeated hotly fancied Breaffy. Ballintubber and Castlebar got through quite comfortably while the Charlestown and Garrymore game went to the wire, but no question the most impressive display of the weekend went to Knockmore, and most notably Keith Ruttledge who terrorised the Breaffy defence scoring five points from play. I felt sorry for the Mayo players playing in the club championship last weekend, as a lot of them underperformed (except for Kevin McLoughlin for Knockmore ). I met Seamus O’Shea two weeks ago in Breaffy and he was very down after losing the replay to Kerry. It is extremely hard to pick yourself up after such a crushing defeat and try to line out for your club a short time later, let me tell you it is far from easy. Your mindset is just not going to be right. The players need a long break after four intensive years under James Horan so to try to pick yourself up for relegation scraps and league matches after the disappointment of nearly getting there is the last thing you want to deal with. My point is, do not give them any flak if they do not give a nine out of 10 performance, they are only human, and amateur sportsmen to boot.
I have to give a special mention to the Charlestown Ladies team who convincingly won the Mayo Junior title against Achill last Saturday evening. There were huge celebrations around the town. I have no doubt they will give the Connacht competition a right good go so get your money on them now.