Posted by Mickey Harte
Friday 15 June 2012
I think our 0-19 to 0-13 win over Armagh was an interesting game because it went against what people expected.
There was a sense that it would be a lockout or a war of attrition but both teams went on the attack, which is of course a dangerous game. But there was plenty of good football and I think we got the key decisions near the end and went that crucial score ahead after Armagh had made their comeback.
If the Orchard County had pushed out in front from a three-point deficit and having been a man down, then they would have been on a rollercoaster journey to the semi-final. It was good for the spectators but from a managerial point of view, we’d both think we conceded more than we should have.
Apparently, there was more aggressive play or perhaps aggressive body language in Cork’s 0-17 to 0-12 win over Kerry at Páirc Uí Chaoimh. But there’s a serious rivalry there that goes back 100 years or more and I reckon it’s just heat of the moment stuff. That rivalry would be more intense than the Armagh-Tyrone one because our rivalry would be more recent in that nature.
Cork and Kerry both know they’ll probably meet up again in the summer and that probably wouldn’t be as true of the teams in our province, Ulster. Everyone has accepted that we’re not at the level we were at eight to ten years ago whereas those sides in Munster are. I think Cork and Kerry have to do a bit of shadow boxing before they show up at the real fight.
It didn’t quite happen for Kieran Donaghy and Paul Galvin, on Sunday but I think that was just a one-off. And, in many ways, I think Kerry have benefitted from the qualifying route in the past. They have at times looked like a team in decline and yet come back to win All-Irelands from those positions. It would be very dangerous and foolhardy to write Kerry off and I think the way they are being talked down will help them regroup. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them back in Croke Park later this summer and quite likely in September too.
Form points to a win for the Ulster champions Donegal in their home patch of Ballybofey against Derry on Saturday. They’ve already had their preliminary round clash with Cavan and while they had a slow start, they found their feet quickly and ultimately overran the Breffni County.
They probably weren’t as defensive as they were last year and actually came up and got quite a few scores. I think they have moved on from last year and taken a step up. Derry — who I think might be in for a difficult day — had a poor league campaign and only avoided relegation based on other results. But they were missing a lot of key players then and manager John Brennan has gone on record as saying the league didn’t matter one iota to him.
So it’s a gamble he’s taking in saying that because I personally think that the league is important. But it’s his right to say that and all the clubs he’s been with, he’s won championships so he is a bit of a knockout expert.
That’s the intrigue of this game that Derry are coming in as the underdogs. League form points to Donegal winning this with a measure of comfort but I wouldn’t fully go with that because it’s so unpredictable and there hasn’t really been a major upset in Ulster yet. It’s unusual we’d go through Ulster without a shock so who knows.
Carlow are in that situation that most underdogs find themselves in historically — if you don’t win on the first day then it’s likely that you have missed your chance. They had a couple of men sent off at the weekend against Meath so I think that will leave them short of their full hand for the replay too.
Meath had a good win against a Wicklow side that had gained promotion from Division 4 beforehand so people would have expected that they’d roll on past Carlow as well. You would expect the Royals to learn from the experience and push on.
Kildare will go in as strong favourites over Offaly because they are now a Leinster heavyweight. In recent terms, this is a bit of a David and Goliath job. Kildare might not have won a provincial title yet under Kieran McGeeney but they have been getting close, have been regularly in the latter stages of the championship and probably should have been in an All-Ireland final back in 2010 when they lost to Down.
They had a shaky start to the league but they have been on a bit of a roll since that so it’s hard to see any other result other than a Kildare victory.
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