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Cumann Chat: Hall’s influence, a dual issue and Monaghan’s fighting spirit

A FEW minutes before he was substituted on Sunday, Armagh’s Jemar Hall seemed to indicate to the bench that he was running on empty. Kieran McGeeney asked for five more minutes and the Forkhill man duly obliged. Hall is often taken off before a game’s conclusion, but rarely for a bad performance. The likes of the O’Neill brothers and Rory Grugan, rightly, get all the headlines – but it’s Hall who is performing a lot of the tasks that allow them to shine. He is up and down the field constantly and his runs in behind, to the wing to make space, are invaluable. Basically he performs a lot of the link play to help the team out. You’ll see nothing spectacular from Hall but watch him closely and you’ll understand why McGeeney rates him so highly. Hall still has his critics in Armagh, but their voices are losing volume.
NIALL MCCOY

LAST Saturday, Cork and Westmeath’s defences conceded a cumulative 3-47. The RTÉ pundit Pat Spillane in turn branded the game as the best of the weekend. Good defence and solid marking are not elements of the game that some folks hold dear. Okay, so the sky is blue and the grass is green as well, what other obvious truths can I point out? What I would say is that the group of fans who hold entertainment, and by that I mean attacking play, on a pedestal often miss the point. The Guardian newspaper recently outlined the history of Portuguese football which swapped an attacking style of play for more defensive, less attractive style and ended up winning the Euros. Attacking play is for pundits. Defensive play is for winners.
RONAN SCOTT

WHAT’S up in Cavan? We all know Mickey Graham is a ‘championship is all that matters’ sort of lad, but Division Four is not somewhere anyone wants to be. With Antrim earning promotion, it means that when the 2022 season starts they will be lowest ranked league team in Ulster. This squad has provincial medals in their pockets so it’s not all doom and gloom, but I watched their games against Fermanagh and Wicklow and they really looked short of a spark. Maybe it is just a tapering exercise and we will see the real Cavan against Tyrone next month. It’s hard to pick it up that fast though.
NIALL MCCOY

WHILE watching Kerry hammer Tyrone last weekend, many Derry fans like myself might have been purring. To see our neighbours so ruthlessly cut apart suggested that our beloved neighbours are on the slide, which will clear the way for Rory Gallagher’s footballing machine to march to the top. But the manner of the way that the Kingdom cut Tyrone open reminded me of the All-Ireland Minor final when David Clifford put on a man-against-boys performance. In that game, and in Tyrone’s performance, it appeared at times that they didn’t have a clue how to stop Kerry. At the same time though, against Tyrone it seemed that every ball broke perfectly for Kerry. So I think it’s too soon to suggest that Tyrone are on the slide, despite the temptation to do so.
RONAN SCOTT

IN case you missed it at the weekend, there was a big example of why there remains a major dual issue in Gaelic games. Meath’s Megan Thynne is a very talented person and, because of that, represents her county proudly in both camogie and football. Imagine her dismay then when she found out that Meath’s football semi-final with Cavan clashed with the camogie semi-final with Antrim. What’s a player to do? In Thynne’s case, as much as humanly possible. She lined out for the footballers in the first half in Cavan before hopping in the car and heading to Inniskeen to come on for the camogs. Full credit to the player, but a problem still exists and action is needed.
NIALL MCCOY

THE lack of proper conclusion of the leagues earned some chagrin in certain corners of the GAA community. However, I think that for the most part folks understand that in these strange times, compromises must be made, and not completing a league that was played over a shortened time scale is a frustration that they can put up with. My take on it is that the shorter league campaign while not the norm, still delivered great drama. The Monaghan Galway game was filled with excitement. The Oriel county, after being punished for breaking the rules, which meant playing away from home, and then failing to find a win in their three games, were forced into a relegation battle. Yet they had the players to get over the line and prove once again that they are not a team on the slide. Ten years ago, Monaghan were a team that were written off, but now they are a side who can perform when they need to.
RONAN SCOTT

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