Kevin Cassidy

KEVIN CASSIDY: Picking your battles

THE reigning All-Ireland champions Dublin sent out another strong message of intent last weekend and based on current form they seem to be in the mood again this year.

Their last two performances have shown the rest of the country what kind of performance levels will be required this year if they are to wrestle Sam Maguire away from the capital.

A lot has been made of last weekend‘s fixture between the top two in Division One with a lot of people giving out that Mickey Harte didn’t go all out.

Anyone who has played at a decent level will know that it would have been silly of Mickey Harte to show his full hand at the weekend.

A league title means very little to Dublin but it would mean an awful lot to Derry, especially with Mickey Harte in charge. So, the fact that these two could possibly cross paths in a few weeks, time in the decider, it was definitely on Mickey’s mind when he sat down to plan for this game.

When you are floating about at the top table, you are smart enough to know that you are not going to beat the All-Ireland champions two or three times in a season. It’s very important that you pick your moments and pick your battles accordingly.

With that in mind, losing two points in Celtic Park last weekend was probably the smartest defeat to take and I have to admit I would have done likewise myself.

What that defeat does is that it now gives Derry a target and something to talk about in their meetings and help drive their training because they now have Dublin in their sites without putting massive pressure on themselves.

Kerry bounced back with a comprehensive win against Tyrone and although the scoreboard didn’t reflect their dominance, anyone who watched the game would have been impressed with how well Kerry played.

I have to admit that I feel for Tyrone because, like I said a few weeks back, I still think they will have a big say in this year‘s championship. It’s just that they are struggling to get all of their key players on the pitch at the one time.

If they can get a good run over the next few weeks and get some of those bodies back on the pitch, then I’m certain that they will be a difficult proposition come Ulster Championship time.

Division Two is also shaping up for a clash of the big two in the final. Both Donegal and Armagh should win both of their remaining games resulting in a clash between these old rivals in a few weeks’ time.

A bit like Derry, I feel a Division Two title will probably mean more to this Donegal team given where they are in their development whereas Armagh will be more concerned about just getting back into Division One again.

Donegal have a youthful enough squad so if they can manage to win Division Two it will be a big boost for them as they prepare for the big one in Celtic Park.

Over the next two rounds there will be a lot of swings and roundabouts and, from a neutral point of view, let’s hope that it’s all still to play for at both ends of the tables as we head into Super Saturday on the 23rd March.

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