GList: Taking stock of the season

Five Ulster counties have exited the race for championship honours and Niall Gartland runs the rule over their seasons:


THE championship trumps all else, particularly in Tyrone, so fans of the Red Hand County will feel bitterly disappointed that they bowed out of the race for Sam last Saturday with their preliminary quarter-final defeat to Roscommon. It was the nature of the defeat that proved disappointing as much as anything else – Roscommon are no world beaters (though they are certainly stronger than they’ve been given credit for) and Tyrone failed to press home the argument in their ill-fated attempt to stage a second-half comeback. There were few positives to take from the game and while some of the social media chatter calling for heads was way over the top, there’s no doubt that it was a deflating end to the season. On the plus side, they maintained their Division One status and the likes of Darragh Canavan, Niall Morgan and Mattie Donnelly have had fine seasons. Still though, Tyrone expect to do better.


AN uncharacteristic season from Monaghan. Usually they find a way to maintain their Division One status, even if it requires some sort of Lazarus act on the final day, but their opening day win over Dublin proved a false down and they ended up consigned to the drop. The championship didn’t go much better – losing to rivals Cavan was a bitter pill to swallow, a defeat compounded by a season-ending injury to their vastly experienced midfielder Darren Hughes. They did stumble into a bit of form in the All-Ireland group stages, but their mini-revival was cut down in its tracks by Galway last weekend. A lot of the talk after the game centred on the apparent retirement of Conor McManus, but as of yet there is no official word that the Clontibret legend is calling it a day. It’ll also be interesting to see whether Vinny Corey stays on as he took the job on the proviso that there’d be a review after two seasons.


THE Saffrons were hell bent on reaching this year’s Tailteann Cup final, but for the second year running they faltered at the penultimate hurdle. They could have no complaints about the manner of their 3-12 to 1-13 defeat to Justin McNulty’s defeat to Laois as they played well in patches but couldn’t sustain those efforts over the course of the 70-plus minutes. It was a disappointing way to put the tin lid on what had been a stellar campaign, the highlight being a preliminary quarter-final win over Fermanagh. Generally though, 2024 won’t live long in the memory; they finished mid-table in Division Three before giving a good account of themselves but ultimately falling short against Down in Ulster. Andy McEntee’s side got plenty of mileage of the Tailteann Cup but their failure to book their spot in the final is one that they’ll no doubt regret. And finally, all the best to Declan Lynch who has hung up the boots after 12 years of service.


A SEASON that basically petered out when it came to the crunch. To start with, Raymond Galligan was a surprise appointment to replace Mickey Graham, and it was difficult to know how the long-time Cavan goalkeeper would take to intercounty management. To be fair, they did reasonably well in his first league campaign in charge, finishing third in Division Two (promotion was never going to be an easy ask with Donegal and Armagh about the place). Then came the undoubted highlight of the year, a surprise victory over their neighbours Monaghan. They brought Tyrone to the brink in the semi-final of Ulster, but it all went belly up in the All-Ireland group stages. An ACL injury to their main man up front, Paddy Lynch, hardly helped matters, but they will still be disappointed that they didn’t make a better shape of things in tankings at the hands of Dublin and Mayo. Defeat to Roscommon spelt the end of a season that flattered to deceive.


SPEAKING in the wake of his side’s Tailteann Cup quarter-final defeat after an all-Ulster battle with Antrim, Erne boss Kieran Donnelly put a positive spin on the day’s events, chalking it down as a learning experience for his troops, one that could lead to progress down the line. Still, they had aspirations of going deep into in the competition, so it was still a disappointing end point for the team. It was a tricky enough season: they found themselves relegated back to the third tier after a short stay in Division Two, they lost by 3-11 to 0-9 to Armagh in their sole provincial outing, and their winning streak in the group stages of the Tailteann Cup, picking up three wins on the trot, didn’t count for much in the final reckoning as they were caught by Antrim in the last eight.

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