Posted by Ciarán Whelan
Sunday 15 July 2012
I thought the Connacht final was a very poor game. It was sloppy, there were an awful lot of frees, there was bad play in general and we saw a very inconsistent refereeing performance.
Mayo won ugly, though, and that’s the bottom line. They have another Connacht title without playing the way they want to play. But a good deal of that was down to Sligo as they dictated the terms of the game.
They set up their team to prevent Mayo imposing their gameplan and to drag them down to their level. They achieved that to a certain degree and Kevin Walsh obviously saw that approach as the best way to curtail Mayo.
But James Horan’ side hung in there and eventually got to grips with the play around the middle of the park, especially after the introduction of Aidan O’Shea alongside Barry Moran. They also had guys such as Lee Keegan and Colm Boyle showing the leadership needed to swing the game their way.
In some ways, like the Dublin performance against Wexford, they can take the positives from the game and it will certainly give them plenty to work on. Sligo will be bitterly disappointed that they didn’t take their chances. When they had the possession in the first half they kicked a lot of aimless ball into the forward line. That was as a result of flooding the midfield and then losing their shape in the half-forward line.
There were two controversial incidents in the game. The first was the Mayo “goal” and it you look at it technically he had an open hand and it wasn’t an underarm striking action but it was still a harsh call. If it was a call that was made later in the game or even later in the championship it would be deemed to be very dubious.
But Mayo struggled in the first half and for 30 minutes they only got one point from play. They missed a lot of chances, their decision-making was poor and they weren’t clinical enough. Sligo went in ahead but then, at a crucial stage when the scores were level, Boyle went forward and kicked a score that looked wide.
Mayo then kicked on with another couple of scores and it proved to be a critical turning point. Sligo will feel hard done by but some decisions you get and some you don’t. Mayo were unlucky not to get the goal but lucky with that point. They now move on with plenty to think about.
I’M NOT OVERLY shocked that Tipperary knocked Wexford out. I watched them against Kerry in the first round of the Munster championship and they were very unlucky that day. They had their goal chances but just showed a bit of naivety. They had players such as Michael Quinlivan making his championship debut and have made good progress since.
Wexford probably put all their eggs in the one basket in that they targeted the Leinster championship so the setback they received against Dublin would have been very difficult to recover from.
Tipperary had more time to recover following their provincial exit and more time to readjust. We saw last year that Wexford struggled in the qualifiers as well after losing to the Dubs so in that sense I’m not surprised.
Tipperary have had a lot of underage success so it was only a matter of time before they made the breakthrough. They had some good performances from Quinlivan and Philip Austin who got six points between them and they fully deserve to be in the next round.
I DON’T THINK anybody in Galway knows what has happened since they hammered Roscommon in the Connacht championship. They’ve tried everything at this stage. They’ve had two external managers in Joe Kernan and Tomás Ó’Flatharta. They had Liam Sammon and now they’ve Alan Mulholland who has achieved underage success.
But Antrim were probably licking their lips at the prospect of hosting a Galway side that has been brittle in the qualifiers. They’ve lost a lot of games by a point or two and the way Antrim set up defensively makes it very difficult for teams to break them down.
Again, it was a case of Antrim bringing Galway down to their level and they knew if the game was tight they would be in with a chance because there is that mental weakness in the Galway side. Antrim have never been an easy team to beat in the Ulster championship. They have always put it up to teams and are an underrated team.
So they deserve great credit for the victory but from a Galway perspective the question has to be asked: Where to now? There are a lot of people scratching their heads that they are out of the championship but I still feel Mulholland is the right man for the job. They have to look within themselves and they have an awful lot of work to do to recover because a year that started with so much hope has ended with great disappointment.
KERRY HAVE BEEN there before in the qualifiers. They struggled against Sligo and Antrim before going on to win the All-Ireland in 2009. They got out of jail on Sunday after being down by six points and they had to rely on bringing on a guy with a hamstring injury.
Darran O'Sullivan got a goal from what people believe was a poor refereeing decision and there are many Kerry people saying they were lucky to get out if it with the win. Again you have to give credit to Westmeath. During the week they had players playing club football and they don’t have the resources to do the same strength and conditioning work as teams such as Kerry.
They still put it up to a side that many people have tipped to win the All-Ireland so Kerry will be counting their blessings. The bottom line, though, is that of you win by one point or by 15 points the name is still in the hat for the next round
I’M FED UP hearing about the Seánie Johnston story at this stage and I think the matter should now be now closed. Let’s see what he’s really like over the next few weeks. He’s now a Kildare player even though I wouldn’t have played him in the game.
Kildare got the basics right on a way that they didn’t do against Meath and won the game more comfortably than they would have expected. I just wonder would Kieran McGeeney have used Johnston if it had been a tight game with a lot of tension in the ground. It was probably the right call to put him in there when the bite was gone out of it and Kildare had it won.
Whether you agree or disagree with the choice Johnston made he is now a Kildare player so let’s close the book and move on. But it will be very interesting to see what kind of effect he can have on the Kildare team over the next few weeks.
IT’S BEEN SUCH a difficult time for the Harte and McAreavey families and everyone’s sympathy is with them. Mickey has shown great courage, great heart and great dignity over this period.
It’s so difficult being a county manager. It takes up large chunks of time with analysis and thoughts about gameplans so maybe it’s a good distraction for him. You have to admire the way he has dealt with everything through what has been an unimaginably awful time.
On Sunday, Mickey would have had harsh words for his team at half-time. You never get anything easy at Hyde Park and Roscommon put it up to them, especially for the first 20 minutes but it was the 10 minutes either side of half-time when Tyrone got to grips with things.
It was poor from a Roscommon perspective because after beating Armagh you would have thought there would be more fight in them. But, as we’ve seen before, Tyrone are dangerous when they get a bit of momentum behind them.
It’s a great platform for them to work from and nobody will want to get them in the draw. Mickey had the courage to introduce a guy making his debut and Darren McCurry repaid the faith shown in him by kicking four points. That’s a great boost for them because they have been unlucky with injuries this season. With Stephen O’Neill also picking up a knock they’re going to need guys who can take their scores so it’s great timing that McCurry is coming along now.
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