Our journalists provide some random thoughts on the issues at hand.
THE mighty Kingdom don’t seem so mighty anymore, and the knives are being sharpened as we speak down in Kerry following their shock defeat to Tyrone. I personally don’t think it’s all Peter Keane’s fault – the reality is, apart from David Clifford, they don’t have any superstars of Gaelic football in their starting 15 at the minute, and that far too much has been read into the fact they won five All-Ireland Minor titles in-a-row. Yes, it’s a fine accomplishment, but it’s not the be all and end all. Take Mayo – from what I’ve heard, James Horan isn’t remotely concerned with how their teams fare at minor level. Instead, it’s about finding players with talent and helping them reach their potential. Kerry need to take a leaf out of Mayo’s book!
I WAS a number of drinks deep baking away in a Galway pub as Tyrone pulled the rug from under Kerry. The full-time whistle was met by massive cheers by the Mayo fans in the bar who told us that the All-Ireland was essentially in the bag now that the Kingdom were out. Maybe it was the fact that we were a table mostly made up of Armagh lads and have had been scarred by past losses, but it seems to me that Mayo will struggle badly against the sort of Red Hand aggression that Tyrone brought at the weekend. How any Mayo fan can feel that they are home and dry is beyond me, and I can actually see Tyrone bullying them all over the pitch. Maybe it shows that Tyrone remain underrated.
WHILE I love me county, I’ve found it a frustrating experience watching Tyrone in Croke Park in recent years. I always felt a sense of deja vu as they invariably lost big matches against the Kerry and Dublins of this world by a few points – yet in reality it felt like they were a mile away as they always seemed to fall short when the game was in the melting pot. But all changed on Saturday – rather than sitting back and relying on pot shots up front, they absolutely tore into Kerry from start to finish, playing the type of helter skelter, yet disciplined football I’ve associated with Mayo teams of the last decade. Thank God for that – I know Tyrone have tried to play a more attacking brand of football since 2017, but it was only on Saturday that they played with the manic intensity that could well see them take a fourth ever All-Ireland title home to Tyrone. I’m biased but I desperately hope they do it.
ANTRIM ladies are in the All-Ireland Junior final this weekend and they regard it as a stepping stone for the future. Aislinn McFarland is the captain of Antrim, said in the press conference this week that the success of the county is down to how the team has bonded as a group. They say there are no individuals and everyone plays for the team. Antrim played their league club football in Division Four, and are Junior Championship competitors, but when you consider they have a club like St Paul’s who are so strong at club level it feels as though Antrim should be competing at a higher level on the county scene. Fortunately, according to McFarland other clubs are coming to the fore, and being represented on the county team. The next step would be a competitive senior club championship in the county and then things could really start moving.
JUDGING by the social media reaction, Declan Bonner’s reappointment seems to have split opinion. I find that a bit harsh from Tir Chonaill folk. In 2008, Peter McDonnell won an Ulster title for Armagh and he was gone at the end of the following season. The Orchard county haven’t lifted the Anglo Celt since. Donegal eyes may be on making All-Ireland semis and finals, but his four years in his second spell have brought two Ulster titles and another provincial final appearance. With the exception of Kerry and Dublin, being constant All-Ireland contenders is not really possible over a long period of time. Donegal have been in a real boom period over this last decade, and Bonner deserves the chance to add more silverware.
TYRONE made a huge mistake this year. Winning their way to an All-Ireland final has been badly though out. First off, they used their Covid-19 siege mentality thing for the semi-final when it feels like it would be better to use that in a final. The second reason for their big mess up is that, who wants to win an All-Ireland in front of half a crowd? The fight for tickets over the next week is only going to create massive rows in households from Strabane to Stewartstown. And thirdly, and most importantly, they have now qualified for an All-Ireland final against Mayo, the team who have won the hearts of everyone in Ireland. They are the plucky team who have battled every year to win their All-Ireland. Beating the Dublin behemoth seemed like the final hurdle, and now they are in a final everyone will want them to win. So if Tyrone win, they will be the ultimate pantomime villains.