Dublin licking their lips
THEY’RE only going to go and do it again, aren’t they? Dublin were already most people’s favourites for the All-Ireland – yeah, as if playing in the winter is going to make THAT much of a difference – and they’re position as front-runners for Sam has only been copperfastened by Kerry’s defeat to Cork on Sunday. Kerry were being talked up as the team that could take Dublin down, but in hindsight it looks like wishful thinking as they were so flat, and so negative, against Cork. The Dubs aren’t invincible but they were ominously good against Westmeath, and it’s hard to see anyone stopping them winning the six-in-a-row. Donegal looked very good against Tyrone, and Mayo seem to have found some good young players, but Dublin will likely prove a bridge too far.
Tally moving things forward
DOWN and Fermanagh was not easy on the eye, but at least the Mourne county showed plenty about them after the break. Patrick Murdock enhanced his reputation at full-back, Daniel Guinness was a hive of industry, Caolan Mooney was like a knife through butter and Barry O’Hagan kicked some lovely scores. With team captain Darren O’Hagan out for the season, that was a tricky assignment but, despite a slow start, they passed it with flying colours. Manager Paddy Tally has already secured promotion to Division Two and he is one game away from an Ulster final. Down go into Sunday’s game with Cavan with very little to lose. They are moving in the right direction.
Antrim’s next step
LENNY Harbinson’s departure from the Antrim football manager job was an interesting development in the sense that the Saffrons showed signs of having made great progress. Yet the cold hard facts cannot be denied. They didn’t get promotion, and they didn’t win an Ulster Championship match. Contrast Antrim’s footballers fortunes with that of their hurlers and we might get a signpost to who might replace Harbinson. Antrim hurlers have grown in the past few years. Neal Peden’s influence was important and his work with Darren Gleeson led to the latter man taking over. This year they are in flying form and were promoted. Perhaps a return to an outside man could bring return to their fortunes, see Liam Bradley in 2009.
Rain no issue for Donegal
HOW many times have you read after Cork’s win over Kerry that the lashing rain was a real leveller? A few times, I’d wager. That’s the beauty of winter football, it’s often player in wintry conditions. Armagh and Donegal isn’t going to tan the legs either, but the Orchard county are unlikely to get much joy off the heaven’s opening. I spend a lot of my holiday time in Donegal, it’s an amazing county. It’s also where nice weather goes to die. Go down to Gaoth Dobhair pitch and you’ll usually get wintry weather in July. These lads will be well fit to deal with this so-called leveller.
Roger’s food for thought
ROGER Keenan (proud Gortin man and Coach Education Manager with Ulster GAA) penned an interesting column in our sister paper the Ulster Herald this week. As regards Tyrone senior inter-county football, he said that “despite our dalliance with development squads over the last 20 years, the Tyrone team that were defeated by Donegal was picked from 12 clubs out of the 48 in Tyrone.” He also noted that only Ronan McNamee and Cathal McShane currently ply their trade outside of Division One. He says it stands in contrast with the likes of Kerry, but instead of just complaining about the situation, he offers some solutions. He says that Tyrone need a finishing academy for players who may not be the finished article at underage level but have the potential to play at the highest level, and hopefully Tyrone GAA have a think about his recommendations.
Good decision by Glass
CONOR Glass is one of the guests on this week’s Take Your Points, and he talks about his return to Ireland having spent the past five years playing with Hawthorn. He explains the decision why he returned home. What we have with Glass is a player whose attitude has changed in the past five or so years. When he was starting out, he loved the lifestyle of being a professional athlete. The training and the free time were a dream. I feel, however, that as he has grown up he is starting to realise that there must be a plan beyond playing sports. And so university must become his priority. The average Derry fan might think that Glass’s return will herald a great era for Derry. It might, but whatever benefit for Derry, it feels like Glass has made the move to better himself.