No country for old men

Laochra

Walking along the North Circular Road early this afternoon, it almost felt like All-Ireland final day. The vicinity was thronged and most of the people out on the streets looked like they were going to form part of the capacity crowd that was set to assemble at Croke Park. The weather was fine, the two most decorated counties in the game were set to go head-to-head in the Division One League final. Sure it’d be like championship in April.

Only it quickly became apparent once the ball was thrown in that this wasn’t going to happen. The contest was open and there was plenty of commitment and heart shown by the two teams but pared down to its bones this was just an ordinary League final, albeit one played in front of an extraordinarily large Croke Park crowd.

Kerry stuck with Dublin for most of the first half but even then you could see they were labouring somewhat. Gooch left Philly McMahon for dead with a nice feint before pointing and Stephen O’Brien was causing a bit of havoc closer to Dublin’s goal but further out the field Kerry were in trouble.

Their midfield was malfunctioning and every time Dublin came forward they looked capable of scoring. The second of Bernard Brogan’s points – his fetch, turn and shot was a model of efficiency, shaking off Marc Ó Sé with ease as he did so – was probably the pick of their ten first half scores.

The game was still in the mix at the break and this was also still the case until close to ten minutes from the end, though by then red lights were going off all over the place for the Kingdom. The fatal blow was undoubtedly Aidan O’Mahony’s sending-off – a wholly merited straight red he picked up for stretching Jonny Cooper off the ball – as this meant that the superiority Dublin were already enjoying in the areas of restarts and ball retention was immediately enhanced.

Even then, it took them a good while to seal the deal. O’Mahony walked on 46 minutes and Dean Rock was blasting the penalty Dublin got for a foul on Paul Mannion over the bar with ten minutes to go. That score put the Dubs three clear but by full-time they added a further 2-3 to their total while Kerry put on only a solitary further point.

A late avalanche of scores is this Dublin team’s calling card. However, the way they steamrolled Kerry in the closing stages today will surely result in deeply furrowed brows down south.

The first goal – belted home by Paul Flynn, who intercepted Brendan Kealy’s attempted short kick-out – exposed the gulf in competence between the respective counties’ restarts. This was an area of play that Dublin had the upper hand in all day, with Cluxton getting damn close to 100% of his kick-outs away to a blue shirt while Kealy frequently struggled to get his efforts safely to one of his own men. The calamity that led to Flynn’s goal was simply an accident waiting to happen.

What will, though, be of greater concern to Kerry was the degree to which their old guard was eclipsed so thoroughly this afternoon. Kieran Donaghy had a very frustrating day, with the only Hail Mary ball he caught all day – and this option appeared to be Kerry’s main attacking gambit today – resulting in a free out for a push in the back.

In addition Gooch, O’Sullivan and Walsh all contributed far less than they might have been expected to. The first two of this trio have been in sparkling form all spring but today on the big stage at HQ they utterly failed to stamp their authority on proceedings. As a result, Kerry’s attack never looked threatening or incisive and Dublin’s blanket – one that’s as suffocating as that of the Nordies when they deploy it – was easily able to cope with the best of what the Kingdom had to offer in attack.

To be honest, I felt Dublin played well within themselves, which isn’t surprising for April but also provides further proof (were it needed) about what rude health they’re in at the minute. Not getting out of second gear while dishing out an eleven-point beating to the Green and Gold – the fifth time in a row they’ve now beaten them in Croke Park clashes – has to be satisfactory from their point of view.

What all this means in the greater scheme of things is difficult to say. It’s tempting to conclude that the Kerry lads are a busted flush, as it certainly looked that way today. I’d always thought that it would take the likely late August meeting between the two counties for Kerry’s ageing warriors to be found out but that happened instead today. The question now is what will Eamonn Fitzmaurice do in light of this, seeing as his approach of relying so heavily on the thirtysomethings patently isn’t going to cut it in this year’s championship.

Still, it’s equally difficult to see how Kerry might fail to make it as far as the All-Ireland semi-final this year where, once they get there, they’ll surely meet a Dublin side that’ll have walloped every team they come across on the way to the penultimate round. Maybe Fitz will be able to refashion his forces to greater purpose in the meantime, maybe they’ll seize upon this extra ladling of hurt that’s been dumped on them today and use it as an incentive to come again over the summer. Maybe, though after today I’m not so sure.

And Dublin? They’re on offer for Sam tonight at 5/4 whereas, after thumping Cork in last year’s League final, the corresponding price was 6/4 and it was, I think, about the same after they hammered Derry in the 2014 decider. The point here is that this isn’t the first year that Dublin have emerged from the League looking unstoppable and while this could prove to be the case in 2016 – as it ultimately, and despite our best efforts, was last year – this year’s championship still has to be fought for and others, notably our lads, will want to have a major say in how that particular battle plays out.

That, though, is for another day. Today belonged to Dublin, even if the lukewarm lap of honour they did with the cup – that barely half the team joined in with – would suggest it’s not a win they’ll savour for too awful long.

PS: Top marks to the GAA for the day’s main event at Croke Park. Laochra was colourful, varied and visually stunning, with Micheál Ó Muirtheartaigh’s segment the high point of it for me. Despite his advancing years he was, for sure, the top performing Kerryman at Croke Park this afternoon.

70 thoughts on “No country for old men

  1. Any team that have their sights set on winning this years A I will have their work cut out to beat the current holders. This may only be the League but the Dubs have shown League or not, they have no intention of easing up. The amazing thing is, they appear to be getting better with age and the few new guys on show are on a par with anything gone before. There seems to be no apparent weakness on this team, with each player capable of winning his own ball, putting in the tackles and supporting his team mates when necessary. Add to that their work rate, which is phenomenal. Where or when this dominance will end, no one knows but it will be up to the Mayo’s and Kerry’s of this world to come up with some formula to topple them from their perch – and the sooner the better.

  2. Hate to say it but the way it’s looking dubs will win Sam pulling up again this year. Some team boys. Some team

  3. No country for naivety and hype and welcome to the velvety simplicity of the Boys in Blue.The gap was as wide as what separates the kingdom from Croke Park.Playing poorly for much of the second half Galvins boys could have won by six to ten more points…4-20 to 13 puts…..a massacre!
    Couple of lessons from today’s classes and much homework to be done….and in on time too please or else…..!
    1….teams have to be able to execute what they have in mind.
    2….release the ball on as quickly as possible and don’t get caught in possession ….as much as pos!
    3….big hopeful ball into square can become an admission of weakness.
    4…..knowing where u are in the scheme of things….reading the game is NB…..for all players.
    5……hold your cool at all times!
    6…… Change the tone of the game at times…do something new!
    It was a very enjoyable ending to quite an eventful league.Now we can all move on with renewed vigour and courage and confidence in our belief that we can can more than compete with this giant of the East!

  4. I think we need to relax here, no team is unbeatable. Sure, this is one of the best sides (first 15 plus subs) I think I’ve seen over the past 20 or so years, but still.
    It’s very easy to get carried away with the hype over a good team.
    Leave that to the media.

    Dublin certainly can be beaten, and as reigning champions this is probably the best year to attempt it.

    Some of the players they’ve brought in do look good, but on the other side of things they’ve lost 2 of their most important players in O’Carroll and McCaffrey.

    Take it easy everyone, it’s only April. Deep breaths needed here.

    And I wouldn’t for a second write Kerry off from beating them in August, if that is the way it works out this year.

  5. Kerry certainly are not the force they used to be and I doubt if they will regain their edge this year. Dublin look awesome and it’s difficult to figure out how to beat them. Whoever has hopes of doing so will have to match them in intensity, work rate and fitness and that’s just for starters. Stoping them scoring goals is another key factor. So a tight, tough defensive structure is vital. Winning and retaining posession ( more than 60%) would give us a decent platform. And if we can manage to do all that it then will then be down to a lucky break, a stroke of genius, a reffing decision. Big challenge for any manager let alone a new IC manager like SR. but then our lads made a big bold move last September / October. On foot of that they now need to prepare like never before. Keegan put it very well when he said we will win it when we are good enough – better than all the rest. That’s the challenge for everyone involved.

  6. you have to be honest only the brave optimist on todays showing would fancy their
    chances against Dublin.
    Still why do players continue to carry the ball into tackles and lose position ?
    Also why did Kerry insist on the high square ball? It has to have been under instruction.

  7. The Dubs under threir previous boss were not up to that much.They are still no more than 15 players plus as said so the difference is surely in the preparation. As athletes, can anyone say that they are superior,man for man than our bunch? I for one would not say it.The difference is in the way they ve been led to play the game. They read the game as a team fr back to front. They re into creating patterns. They know when it’s not working and they try again and indeed in the first part of the second half they could have been beaten by K if K had the wherewithal which was absent today at that time.
    And D didn’t take all the chances that came their way but took enough at the right time and wallowed in their joy of it.

    So, really and truly would we be interested in participating in this game if it were easy…..there has to be a challenge and that’s what makes it worth while!

  8. Kerry were still well in the game until one of their most experienced players let his team down badly. I have never been a fan of the fella who saw red but they really fell apart after he left. Mind you he has a streak in him a mile wide and he got caught well today so what harm.
    So we ask Are the boys in blue beatable? Every team is and the Dubs are no exception. In fact, Mayo have put the shits up Dublin more than anyone else recently, with the obvious exception of Donegal a few years back. Mayo are and will be in August and September real and genuine challengers to Dublin or anyone else. Fitness wise Mayo are a match and more for anyone. For physicality Mayo are a match and more for anyone. We have players that are as skilful and intelligent as the best of them. Can we pull it all together on the day? Yes we can…..but we need to be able to do it everyday, every time, consistently and ruthlessly. Just like Dublin. Thank you and goodnight.

  9. Great post joet, and I will add that Rochford should add some of those u21 lads into his panel regardless of panel size requirements, they would be needed if Mayo were to get the chance later this year to play Dublin

  10. I say Kerry are disgusted the brought it down to a point Dublin arebeatable why was o Mahoney sent off.

  11. I didn’t see it too clear but it looks like he gave Johnny Cooper a puck in the gob. He’s has been at it for years. No sympathy for either of them and they can eat each other in the semi final in August for all I care….it’d all be into Mayo’s barrow.

  12. He got annoyed and thumped his man Cait.
    And you sleep well joet.What you say is true….we do have the players to bother the Dubs but is their belief strong enough? Do they believe and trust in their teammates as much as the Dubs do?When I motor off up the field do I know where I’m going and am I sure I’m not going to be left to my own devices? It all has to be planned out , talked out and then carried out. It just doesn’t happen on the night which is the impression one sometimes get watching games!its not easy but as they say,once you have the wind on your back its plain sailing….simple!

  13. I heard O’Mahony was sent off for a strike. It honestly wouldn’t surprise me. The man is a good player, but he’s far too confrontational for his own good sometimes.

    On Dublin, the most impressive thing about them to me is how much they work as a team. They are not overly reliant on anyone, there are no individuals and everyone, including subs, just blend in seamlessly to the system that Gavin has in place. Even the newer lads have just slotted in so easily. They work together and for each other, and everyone knows their role. There are no passengers. Dublin are like a well-oiled machine that Jim Gavin has working like clockwork. The question is where is the fault in the machine and how do you exploit it?

    This Tyrone team are one to keep an eye on too. They looked very good today and for a team that have had the ‘negative’ label put on them, they look strong going forward. They haven’t really been doing much more than what they need to, but they look confident and are building nicely for the championship. Mickey Harte will have them well-tuned by summer and battle-hardened from the Ulster championship. If there’s any tactician in the country who can find a chink in the Dublin armour, I’d put my money on Harte being the one to discover it. One to watch, from a Mayo perspective too as we could potentially get them in a semi-final.

  14. Couldn’t have been happier for O’Mahony, that red card has been coming for a long time. Pity it wasn’t on a day that mattered.

    Kerry looked a spent force after 50 minutes today; Dublin always looked like they could move up another gear or two. But Kerry are not a league team.

    The Dubs look very strong, and credit to them. But no team is ever unbeatable, and if anyone is in well placed to beat them, it’s us, if – IF – we get that far. We are the closest to them in terms of how they play their game and we have been knocking on the door for a while now.

    If we get as far as a semi and we meet Tyrone, as I think we will, I’d be more concerned about them. But that’s a long way down the road. All ahead of us, I hope.

    Dreaming on a dark night in April … will we ever get sense!

  15. By championship time Marc o se will be 36, Aidan o Mahoney 36, Ciaran donaghy 33, Colm cooper 33, donnacha walsh 32, Bryan Sheehan 31, Darren osullivan 30, Brendan Kealy 30.

  16. Kerry looked average and Dublin never got into fifth gear. others are asking the question can anybody beat Dublin. and the answer to that is yes for all their shiny stars and late in the game surges they are beatable, others are far more qualified than me to say how. On our day We can beat anyone and we should remember that and take pride in it. nobody said it was going to be easy……….
    UP MAYO

  17. Fair play to the Dubs a super team who play football the proper way. If they were a bit more clinical they would have run riot. They turned over a huge amount of ball and were dispossessed quite often. Connolly didnt seem bothered today. I am sure he will be more focused when he has to be.Kerry were poor but I wouldnt write them off after one poorish display. We have to be honest here and admit that we will have to play exceptionally well if we are to beat Dublin. Its true that we have given them plenty of it in recent years, and have been as close to them as anyone but have lost healthy leads in 2013 and last year All the dub forwards look a serious threat and we cant say the same about Mayo but on our day we can be excellent and probably have a better chance of dethroning the dubs than anyone else.

  18. Great post Willie Joe and it’s hard to argue with the script and content,
    Martin TD well done today it was a marvellous display from a lightening fast skilled football team and an unreserved hats off to you and that great team. Sometimes the great warriors have been slain by a flicker of blinding light, a fist of sand, a stumble or slip and sometimes a weapon failure but today these old boys were caught and wounded by the blade of youth.

    Watching today I was always unsettled with the ease that Dublin transported the ball from control to attack, Kerry did well in fairness for a long time to deny them the spoils but there was no doubt that Kerry could hear the breath of the grim reaper as he crawled throughout the web of time. The old adage of time and tide wait for no man was evident today, Kerry are not dead in the water but they will have to acknowledge that those that sit admiring all that they have achieved will not see the unravelling of their greatness by those that flint around and past them.

    EF is a smart manager and the kerry barking dogs will again wag their tails when he brings the food but as I said a few days ago there is no hiding place today. Last year Fionn Fitzgerald scored a great ( if not fortuitous ) point in the munster Final to gain a replay where we beat Cork, it has often been said in Kerry that if he had missed that kick we would be AI Champions as we would have met a very undercooked Dublin in a quarter or semi final. Point im making is that in a few short weeks we will all don the armour and fight for the main prize, Championship football throws up all kinds of unforeseen events and being the best doesn’t mean you will win. See you all in August or maybe September, sometimes they go over and sometimes they don’t, that flag isn’t the measure of where the team is so heads up and chest out.

    The Dubs will be a hard team to beat but trust me thay will be beatable in the shifting sands of championship.

    Today I lift my hat too them, there is no dishonour being beaten by the best and today that’s what they were, The Best,

  19. There’s a real lack of mobility in that Kerry team. And that’s something you simply can’t afford against Dublin. I also sense Kerry aren’t willing to concede their attacking strategy and drop [enough] cover back. They might well be keeping this for later in the summer and they’re quite entitled to do so. They have a sight of work to do but I wouldn’t write them off just yet.

  20. Dublin are favourites for AI and rightly so, Dont write Kerry off, I said before the match Kerry will not show their hand this early in the year, they are always a different animal in August and with ODonaghue to come back they will have a big say in the AI.

    Tyrone is my dark horse for the championship, as a previous poster says, just doing enough to win. What worries me is that I dont expect them to win Ulster, like other years I can see them quietly move through the qualifers and be razor sharp come Croke Park. That puts them in a lottery for quarter final where we could possibly meet them.

    All Ireland for me is a 4 horse race, Dublin out in front for now with Kerry, Mayo and Tyrone chasing.

  21. Mark Griffin has been Kerrys best defender in the league. Dont know why he was taken off.
    Brendan OSullivan has to come into that team. JOD will add some pace.

  22. We have a lot of work to do before we have to worry about playing either of them unless there is some sort of seismic shock in the world and two out of the three of us end up in the qualifiers and drawn against eachother.
    But over the past 12 months we are the only team to really rattle them when it mattered, its cold comfort now but that unbeatable Dublin team were being beaten by us twice last year, and obviously I stand to be well corrected as the championship unfolds but I believe we will be better than we were last year under this management team. Dublin appear to be better also, but if we come up against them I would give us a right good chance. What would worry me more is some of the challenges ahead against Galway, Roscommon and if we go that far, Tyrone. All of those games will be all Ireland finals for that opposition and with us having eyes on a bigger prize, we wouldn’t be the first successful team to be 5% below the perfect pitch in one of those games and get caught.

  23. Dublin never looked like loosing and if O Mahoney stayed on the field, Dublin would still have won in my opinion.

    A sublime piece of magic from the Gooch in the first half when his sold the dummy and gracfully kicked over the bar….worth the entrance fee alone. Brogan, Kilkenny very good for the Dubs…in fact all of them were really.

    As east cork exile say’s….we have alot fo work to do in Connacht before we think outside. That said I believe we will in hanging around towards semi final stage and who know’s after that.

  24. Amazing to think it took over 140 minutes of football last year before this mythical Dublin side got the better of us. The more I see of Shane Enright, the more I hate Cormac Reilly. He’s the most indisciplined back in the country, a pure liability. Along with selling Philly Mc the dummy, Gooch put a pass into Donaghy over the head of a defender in the second half that a engineer would have trouble replicating such was the precision. Donaghy once again proved that being a big man is nearly a handicap at this stage, such is the lack of protection given by referees.

  25. I think the Dubs had the measure of Kerry all along but the sending off was what opened the floodgates.

    What is it that Enright has that makes him entirely impervious to receiving a Black card?. Was there some secret clause when the rule was brought in that made this lad immune from that addition to the rule book?.

    Was impressed with Murphy from Kerry and Fenton from Dublin – as far as I know both are relatively new additions to their senior squads but both have the look of veterans about them.

    Make no mistake – come summer, Kerry will still be in the running and if it gets to a Kerry/Dublin Semi, I think the result would be a lot closer than the final score from yesterday.

  26. Just listened to Sean. O Rourke programme. Eugene McGee and darragh Maloney discussing yesterday’s game and the upcoming championship. It was all about Dublin and whether Kerry could get it together before August. Tyrone were seen as the only ones able to put it up to the dubs in terms of fitness and skill. Not a mention of Mayo ( or indeed Donegal). Thank god for that I thought. Long may we stay out of the reckoning before delivering just one blistering display……….in September!

  27. Take no notice of April football. I though. Kerry foot passing was very good and up to the Dublin standard. Hope that EF learnt more from that performance than I did.

  28. Agree with Diehard
    It’s a positive that Mayo are being written off. Better to fly under the radar for now.
    Kerry will be a lot better in August. JoD and Geaney add a lot.
    Kerry repeated a lot of Mayo’s error from 2015 semi. Lots of poor and wasted ball in to Donaghy. Conceded most Dublin kickouts eyc.
    The only time Dublin really look in trouble in when teams run at them at pace. With Higgins and DOC in the half forwards Mayo will absolutely run at Dublin. There’s much more more of a return on this tactic as it’s more likely to result in a free than the long ball in to AoS which yielded nothing over 2 games (despite constant pulling)
    You have to play a sweeper against Dublin though and that means the 5 forwards and midfield needs to work incredibly hard in tracking back – Parsons is a workhorse but I think it means you need an athletic and mobile partner for him (against Dublin) possibly Vaughan (and that might mean to Barry M or SoS)

  29. Regarding Saturday’s match in Ennis, does anybody know the situation for Cairde Mhuigheo ticket holders?

  30. Diehard, I agree its good that we are not spoken of as contenders yet, keep the hype down and go under the radar for as long as possible. Personally I refuse to listen to or read anything Eugene McGee has to say, he is old fashioned, out dated and seems to have a vendetta/grudge against Mayo.

  31. I believe we have matched up well to Dublin in the past few years in Championship as we match up to them best physically and athletics wise. You need pace, size and strength. Ourselves and Dublin are I would say the best on that score.
    If you don’t match Dublin fitness wise you have no chance of putting them in bother.

  32. JP, agree I think Mayo are best suited to taking on Dublin as we match up well in alot of areas. I think we have the edge at midfield so its important to put pressure on and track wing backs at kickouts. If we can tighten up and be compact at the back stopping soft goals, this will mean Keegan, Vaughan/Durcan being more disciplined keeping position, stopping diagonal balls to runners. In doing this we will be in with a great chance against them. If we get caught in an open shootout of a game then we are goosed.

  33. Kerry have too many players who don’t have the required pace and stamina to play Dublin, and it’s only when you play Dublin that this becomes evident. Since 2011 when this Dublin team made the break through (apart from gubu year 2014) Mayo have been the only team capable of beating them.
    I get the feeling the dubs don’t rate this Kerry team hence they weren’t too clued in (Connolly for example was totally off his game). This Kerry team is finally been found out and I wouldn’t be surprised if cork beat them. Yes it was only the league but the problems Kerry have won’t be fixed easily.

  34. Agree we are underneath the radar – we are an afterthought in most of the analysis at the minute – e.g. last night on League Sunday there was a comment along the lines of “Oh yes and Mayo, yes I think Mayo will come back” – what we will come back from exactly, I’m not sure. But we are not up there as contenders I feel which is no bad thing. Be mighty if we could just limp our way to a final and stage an ambush … 😉

  35. Well I think Kerry can fix some of their problems.
    You have Brendan OSullivan, Paul Geaney and James ODonoghue who can come in and add pace.
    – Put Brendan OSullivan at midfield to use his athleticism.
    – Put Darren OSullivan, Paul Geaney and James ODonoghue in the inside line. You need three in the inside line to keep Dublin pressed back and three players who need minding and can win 1v1 footraces to 50:50 ball.
    – Put Mark Griffin at centre back he is strong and can break forward past the first tackler. That is three players added to the mix who bring pace compared to the players who would likely have to step out.
    As for ourselves. We need to be thinking in terms of the oppositon looking down the field and seeing in and around our 45:
    SOS + Parsons
    AOS
    Keegan Boyler Vaughan/Durcan
    You have the sweeper in behind. You have Diarmuid covering back.
    That is about as impenetrable a wall as you could build. Push for the line then in the last 20 minutes of games. Mentally you can break a team if they get frustrated with turnovers, pressure and blocks happening on their counter attack. The key moment is when they try to change tactics, lamping in hopeful high ball. This is when you know you’ve broken them into going for hopeful tactics.

  36. Sure Dublin look really impressive. What most impressed me was their physical size that allies their fitness. They shrugh off would be tacklers at speed and are really a well oiled machine.

    But Kerry were right in it though up to the sending off. It goes to show that you have to keep your nerve against them. If you can and then be in it with a final fling in the last 15 mins you have a chance.

    A lot depends also on the quality of the bench as Dublins subs McCauley, McMenaman and probably Paddy Andrews are proven quality players to bring on and fit in seamlessly into an existing system.

    Do we or does anyone else have that luxury? Possibly/ Probably not but there may be other areas that teams can gain the upper hand and exploit them.

  37. Anne Marie – Be mighty if we could just limp our way to a final and stage an ambush …

    I agree but I think we will need to be on top of out game to get back into another final….Connacht this year will be tough.
    I wouldn’t worry too much of what is said in the media. There is always going to be doubt over us until we win an All Ireland, that is the fact. Hopefully our u-21’s can do the business on Sat and not make it 4 All Ireland’s lost already this year.

  38. Totally off topic but heard at work today that diarmuid covered 16.4 km during one of our league games this year. .don’t use the word awesome much but in this case….

  39. “Make no mistake – come summer, Kerry will still be in the running and if it gets to a Kerry/Dublin Semi, I think the result would be a lot closer than the final score from yesterday”

    This is twice in a row now though that Dublin beat kerry easily. The AIF was in reality a 7 or 8 point game

    I don’t think Kerry are near as good as some think and in my view they have plenty of problems facing into the Champ. they’ll certainly have enough to still make the semi but I’d expect Dublin to account for them with minimal fuss

    I cannot see anyone stopping Dublin this year barring an injury crisis, they’re by a distance the best team in the country.

    I’m hoping it’ll be us who meet them in the final but I wouldn’t be in the slightest bit confident, sadly, they’re far too clinical up front and we don’t have enough quality forwards to take advantage of dominant spells we might have, as we showed in 2013. They should have beaten us pulling up the first day out last year and to be honest the final is probably the worst time to play them. But anyway we’ll see what happens, lets win Connacht first

  40. Regina, that’s over ten miles and a fair shot of a half marathon give or take in 70 odd minutes. I tell ya he’s the real deal. That is savage goin for any player in any position. Awesome for sure.

  41. As for actual “contenders”, a lot overlooking Donegal in favour of Tyrone I see.

    I think it’s too early for Tyrone really, they were flattered a bit by a relatively handy draw last year after losing in Ulster. They’re a decent team to grind out a result against the second tier teams but up against Mayo, Kerry, Dublin I’d expect them to come up short. I make it 6 years now since they won an Ulster Title even.

    I wouldn’t totally bet against Donegal making the final on that side though tbh, I wouldn’t judge them on the league where they didn’t look truly arsed a lot of the time. They still have quality players in McBrearty, Murphy and Ryan McHugh in particular and are as honest and hard-working as they come. Remember they’ve been in as many finals as ourselves and kerry the last four years, and haven’t lost to a non “big 3” team since 2010. They’re not world beaters but they may not have to be. An Ulster win should see them into a semi anyway and who knows from there? they look in similar enough shape to 2014 when they actually ended up in a final

    As for Mayo, again I’m not going to judge on league form, even though it was certainly worrying. I think roscommon have to be definitely respected now and I believe if we win that we play the Munster loser going on the A/B system. The last time we played Cork in champ they raised their game to a level they had not produced all year and it cannot be forgotten they still have quality players. Kerry may have their problems but they’re a team I like to see Mayo avoid.

    Galway-Roscommon-Cork/Kerry-Tyrone/Donegal could be the route we have to go through to get to a final. It looks similar enough to our 2014 one, where of course we didn’t make the final but were very damn close. But certainly an awkward one.

    The big question is whether there is yet another big push in Mayo once again. I expected a bit of a come down before now really, and it hasn’t come yet thankfully. Provided the same drive and determination exists again, then it’ll be about hopefully finding another forward that can score regularly, and sorting out defensive issues which were well publicised last year.

  42. Cork will take heart from yesterday’s Kerry performance and it was only a dubious penalty decision last year that stopped them beating Kerry in Munster final lets not forget , their performance v Kildare in the next game was ridiculously poor though. Munster final could see a change of guard come to the fore. Leinster is Dublins , Ulster is tough to predict as usual ,I’d fancy Tyrone myself . Connacht ,can’t see there been any change unless Galway start realising their potential and put a proper system in place tactically . Ross , I didn’t know what to make of them and the absolute mania during the league about how good they were , they had good early wins in Kerry and cork , lost a bit of momentum when losing to ourselves and then put up a decent fight v dubs in Sligo , semi final showing was poor . Seeing Cavan yesterday , weighing up there 21s success over the last 5 or so years , it made me think ros are in that bracket and the way the game is gone now I’m not sure they’ll get out of that bracket , it will take a lot more hard work and persistence to make the breakthrough ,could take another couple of yrs though .

  43. Regina that is serious running – nearly a bit too much so! You only had to look at him after the U21 semi to see the work he put in – he was starting to look tired midway through the second half with ten mins to go and yet he put on that final push to get us over the line. He is without a doubt the real deal – it’s not just the workrate he has but the smarts.

    I had a full-scale argument with a fella in the pub on Saturday night who claimed he is vastly overrated “I thought you knew or thing about football” sez he …

  44. Ciaran, I agree mostly with what you say. I think we will win Connacht, after leaving The Hyde this year I was certain we will beat them in the championship, mayo are just way to powerfull for Ros at the moment. I wouldnt like to play Tyrone, we struggled in 2013 until the penalty and in the league last year. Tyrone dont have many stars but Harte knows how to set them up and they will be tough to break down, you cant let them have a lead.

    Defence is where we have to improve to get over Dublin. I expect us to be better in the forwards come championshi but realistically we are not going to discover that superstar forward at this stage so we really need to be tighter in defence. The half back line over the years have been a great attacking weapon but this needs to be curtailed for the big game, we just cant leave open space for runners between our back lines. That is the root cause of most of the soft goals we conseed.

  45. A major part of the efficiency of the Blues machinery is in its unerring almost unseen and understated gambit of getting rid of the ball without being tackled.This enables the movements to proceed unhindered. It also instills a confidence in the players that something positive is going to ensue. Also not being stopped or hindered by a tackle always puts the opp on the hind foot,pressurises them and has them chasing wisps. If a team is properly organised fit and has the cop to off load in this manner it is no mystery how adequate spaces can appear from which scores can be taken.
    This was seen in all the games over the weekend but esp as executed by D.
    I’m sure it’s a deliberate policy of the D management and I can almost hear the reminders from here…..don’t get caught…offload..who is there to receive…etc.
    Of course there are the situations that arise which will demand a fella going it alone but it must be the more profitable option and the target be judged to be attainable!
    Seems to me that players get caught in poss.out of desperation and lack of organisation in the team.
    The great Spanish Armadas strength lay in its discipline of sticking together and this togetherness was to be adhered on pain of court Marshall and many times death.
    Yesterday we saw that part of D working well but we also saw another part which was at another extreme….the dist.of kicked ball into forwards in early second half…deplorable! So they may be tops at the moment but some distance from a finished article. Summer will be different but not that much.Im thinking in fact that things will be quite tight come the end of the road with that small no of teams frothing at their mouths to get out there and prove themselves.

  46. Dublin a lot of low drill or punt passes as well. They must be training with targets and video analysis. When you see Denis Bastik doing a left footed drilled low pass 40 yards and accurate. Receivers going away from goal always off load to a runner arriving at pace.

  47. Forgot to mention and applaud the spectacular assemblage of dancers musicians drummers orators singers flag bearers and the proclamation spoken out so well by the children . Couldn’t but marvel at the amount of preparation that went into this once off performance. Well done to all!!

  48. Wow Eamonn Fitmaurice never fails to amaze me. ‘Rape and Pillage’ his latest nonsense. Has he forgotten what was dished out to Michael Murphy when kerry fluked the AI in 14. Not to mention what Cormac Reilly did in both games against mayo that year.
    Getting to the league final will prove to be the downfall of Eamon and the Kerry dinosaurs. They were so badly exposed yesterday by a Dublin team in second gear. After alternating goalies all year only to have to give it to the other fella after that calamity yesterday. They can’t defend, it’s non stop fouling like it has been the last few years. O se, mahony, donaghy past it. Gooch a passenger. The fluke AI bought him some time but he has driven kerry into the ground. I laugh when I see the smirk on Jim Gavins face when he shakes hands with the lesser men from the ‘kingdom’.

  49. Did anyone else notice the intensity the dubs had at winning the ball at throw in in both halves.

  50. If you had to pick the first 15 from the Mayo ,Kerry and Dublin panels who from Dublin
    wouldn’t make it .Alternatively ,who from Mayo and Kerry would make the Dublin team.

    Its one way of looking at the strength of the Dubs

  51. The only consolation for Kerry is that they now have four months to put things right for a probable All-Ireland semi-final meeting with the Dubs. Some of the older players no longer look up to it so will they try to inject some new blood into the team for the championship and keep the more experienced lads on the bench, remember what Donaghy did to us in the drawn All-Ireland semi-final in 2014 and Alan Brogan did the same last year. The question is though, do they have those young players to bring into the team, it’s probably a bit early for their two All-Ireland winning minor players. They still do have James O’Donoghue, Anthony Maher, Paul Geaney, Mike Geaney and Johnny Buckley to come into the team as well. In saying that, at the moment player for player, the Dubs are better than Kerry.

    Kerry seem to be caught between two stools, they are trying to implement a more defensive structure into their game which worked against Donegal in the 2014 final but there seems to be something missing when they come up against the Dubs in recent times. Its like as if they are playing with the hand-brake up ever since they lost that shoot out game in 2013. They seem to fear Dublin a bit now. Maybe they would be better off taking that approach, as they came closest to beating Dublin in that game, trying to out score the Dubs rather than trying to limit their scoring. Out kick them as you won’t out run them.

    I actually thought with Dublin yesterday we seen the first signs of some complacency creeping into their game. The key to Dublin up to now is that they never do things for the sake of doing it, i.e. trying to pull off outside of the boot impossible passes etc. Pretty much most of the time they have been doing the right things at the right time. Yesterday they gave the ball away a lot more often than normal. It was like as if they were thinking, hey this is becoming very easy for us winning these big games. Jim Gavin was very quick to take players off though, he took Dean Rock off after the penalty and took off Connolly and McMahon when at times they seemed to be going through the motions. Gavin is determined to keep these lads feet on the ground. It should make for a very interesting Summer ahead!

  52. On the post match analysis on TG4 yesterday I didn’t recognise one of the analysts – Charlie something with Ulster Irish. When the others were waffling on about this unbeatable Dublin team, he kept referring to Mayo, inferring that Dublin wouldn’t have it all their own way against us. So we are certainly not under the radar with him.

  53. Everyone assuming kerry will walk through munster this year. Surely cork will be looking at that team thinking “these boys are there for the taking in munster this year”??
    To me both cork and kerry are sharks to be avoided in any potential AI quarter final. Hopefully we will make the last 8 this year one way or another, and after that a nice soft quarter against cavan or kildare or the likes would be great. We are due one!!!

  54. Macs left boot, as far as I can see, the Connacht winner is due to face the Munster loser in the quarters. Connacht loser and Munster loser go into 4a and the Connacht winner plays 4a in qf.

    Tough enough draw for Connacht winner, similar to 2 years ago when we played cork in qf

  55. You’d wonder how do they figure out who plays who in the quarter-finals:

    We have played as follows:

    2015 – Donegal
    2014 – Cork
    2013 – Donegal
    2012 – Down
    2011 – Cork

    Kerry have played Kildare, Galway, Cavan, Donegal and Limerick in the same years. Dublin have played Fermanagh, Monaghan, Cork, Laois and Tyrone.

  56. Inbetweener, I made that exact observation after the dublin v Donegal match – passing the ball just before contact and massive support running to take the offload. I see James Horan says the same in the WP. This is the key to dublins fluency and success. It creates great space in attack.
    However, the trick to screwing up this approach is not to commit too much to the tackle until they approach our 45 where things get a bit crowded and there’s much more traffic and far less opportunity to off load with ease. Then intensity and physicality on a massive scale – something like Donegal did before. Kerry actually did this for a while on Sunday but didn’t keep it up.
    If you decide to press them high up the field then you better turn over posession or they will go through you like a hot knife through butter.

  57. When Cormac Costello came on for Dublin on Sunday the first time he got the ball he ran about 50 metres with the ball and lost it in contact. Mick Deegan, one of the Dublin selectors ran onto the pitch giving out to him. The next couple of times he got the ball he moved it on a lot quicker and scored a point too, so it just shows that moving the ball quickly is been drilled into these Dublin boys.

  58. I think a lot of people are forgetting about us this year. We are one team that can always put it up to Dublin , back a few years ago we only just about lost the final to them. Last year we had the game all but won on two occasions . We are the team to put it up to them no doubt .. Pace we have loads of that too and young lads like DOC and Evan Regan are not short of it…some interesting lads from the u-21 team to who may have a little more to say on the panel after this final coming up…best we are under the radar though when it comes to the dubs,their hype is all the better . I don’t believe for a second there is any member of the mayo panel who doesn’t we believe we can beat the dubs just because they cruised past the Kerry pensioners .

    Time will tell but nothing will give us more of a push this year than already having an u-21 under our belt, all going well.

  59. “If you had to pick the first 15 from the Mayo ,Kerry and Dublin panels who from Dublin
    wouldn’t make it .Alternatively ,who from Mayo and Kerry would make the Dublin team”

    One of the O’Sheas at midfield maybe and possibly a wing back from ourselves, JOD and a midfielder from kerry but certainly not many!

    “It’s just a straight draw for the quarters. No team is due to play anyone in particular.”

    Not anymore. See Cod’s post above

    “To me both cork and kerry are sharks to be avoided in any potential AI quarter final. ”

    Not gonna happen I’m afraid, if we win Connacht or even lose the final. Have to beat the best to be the best though and all that! But yes even Cork do worry me, they’re always banana skin material

    “Anyone read this article on balls.ie about a rest of Ireland 15 to try and beat the Dubs?”

    This stuff is generally click-bait nonsense but that’s probably a fair representation of ourselves in fairness. Higgins was off the pace last year for the most part, and you’d probably have to give DOC another year at senior level before lumping him in teams like this- looking at it all objectively of course!

  60. Charlie Something with “Ulster Irish!” Is well known to us of a certain age as Charlie McGeever from Donegal. He played soccer with Sligo Rovers and Finn Harps. Almost signed for Spurs until a cruciate injury. Captained Donegal @ U21. Has trained various successful Tipperary teams, and can actually speak fluent Irish unlike many of the TG 4 contributors apart from the Kerry and Galway ones. By the way, who are we codding flying under the radar. Possibly we are one of the highest and most media friendly team in the country at the moment. Flying kites maybe but not under any radar.

  61. Yeah I think the quarter-final draws used to be an open draw affair a few years ago but that has changed now. I can’t figure out how they do the draws now as we never seem to end up on the side with the losing Leinster finalist. For example in 2014, it was Munster against Connacht on one side. We met Cork, Munster losers who won their Rd 4 game and Kerry played Galway, Connacht losers won their Rd4 game. Then we played Kerry in the semi-final.

    So last year it was Connacht and Leinster on one side of the draw, we played Dublin in the semi-final. You would have thought that we should have played Fermanagh in the quarter-final as they beat the Leinster losers Westmeath in Rd 4 and Dublin should have played Tyrone as they beat the Connacht losers in Rd 4. Instead for some reason we ended up playing the Ulster losers who won their Rd 4 game, Donegal. As I said I can’t make sense of it!

  62. I think the reason Mayo haven’t been mentioned a whole lot as of yet is because not much is known about what we’re really like this year. You couldn’t take very much from our league performances about where we’re at or indeed where we’re going to be come summer. I think everyone accepts that we’ll be a different proposition for the championship, but what exactly that entails is up for debate as of now. It’s hard to talk about how Mayo will put it up to Dublin when there’s not really much to go on yet. No doubt, Mayo have ruffled the Dublin feathers in the past, and were possibly the only team to really do so last year, but how things will shape up this year for Mayo and whether they really have the chops to take Dublin down is still very much up in the air.

  63. Hi Gamechanger10 and Hi to All,
    Thanks a mill for your congrats etc…its really appreciated and I will keep this very short. Every team is beatable and there’s no point in playing or training as a player if you think this is not the case. I will just say one thing I honestly believe this Dublin team are motivated by trying to win the back to back Sam and after that who knows…that’s just my own belief but that’s still not to say they cant be beaten but believe me they are focused. Best of luck to the U-21’s from Mayo

    Kind Regards,
    Martin the Dub

  64. we all know the dubs are a great team,they have won 3 out of the last 5 all irelands,but the facts are that they have failed to make the final the following year after winning it ,not to mind do 2 in a row. also 2011 final kerry gave it to them,2013 final mayo had the beating of them,so they can be beat

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