Posted by Ciarán Whelan
Monday 30 July 2012
I wasn’t surprised that Laois won. I thought Meath took some false positivity from the Dublin game.
Pat Gilroy’s side should have hammered them and the fact that they didn’t spoke more about Dublin’s failings than Meath’s strengths.
When you break it down, Meath have not had a good year. They’ve had a lot of bad performances with just one big game against Kildare when collectively they all played well. But you have to consider that they drew with Carlow after suffering relegation earlier in the year. So there was a false sense of security there when, really, there has been no consistency all year.
Laois had a winning mentality coming into the game whereas Meath were trying to recover from the Leinster final. It was a good Laois performance and the turning point in the first half was the penalty. Up to that I thought Meath were doing quite well and if they’d held them to three or four points they might have been in with a shout.
Laois came out in the second half and rattled off a few scores that put the game out of reach for Banty’s side. They had some excellent performances from Ross Munnelly and Padraig Clancy on the edge of the square, as well as Brendan Quigley in the middle of the field.
It’s certainly progress for Laois who up to now hadn’t really reached the levels Justin McNulty would’ve hoped for. But now they’ve got the draw they didn’t want. I don’t think they’re good enough to give Dublin much trouble. They’re in the last eight though and that’s what will count when they review their year. That’s positive and they must be given credit for that.
I EXPECTED A lot more from Sligo than what they showed against Kildare. They had that great game against Galway and even though Mayo kicked on and won the Connacht final I thought Sligo were the more organised side.
In that game they were solid at the back and to beat Kildare you have to stop that ball going into the Tomás O’Connor and crowd your defence. But they didn’t do that and once Kildare got on a run Sligo’s heads dropped.
Kieran McGeeney’s side are going into a quarter final now in a nice position. There’s been a lot written about them this summer and you always learn more about yourself in draws or defeats than you do in victories.
After the games against Meath and Limerick they were able to dissect the performances and learn from their mistakes. They’re going to be a serious danger to Cork who will go into the game a little bit cold.
Cork can be one-dimensional at times when teams make it difficult for them and Kildare are that type of side. It’s going to be an interesting clash but the one thing that Kildare haven’t done is beat one of the bigger sides. They’re on the harder side of the draw so now it’s time for them to do that.
It’s some ask for them to beat three big sides, though, and I can’t see them winning an All-Ireland based on that. I’m certain, however, that they will ask serious questions of Cork next weekend.
THE DRAW OF the weekend is Donegal against Kerry. Dublin are on the easier side of it but I would prefer them to have a more serious test. People are already talking about Dublin in an All-Ireland final and that worries me. No matter how much the players want to avoid such talk there is a danger of complacency setting in.
Donegal are on an upward curve. They remind me of Tyrone in 2003. They bring a lot of hunger and desire and are very fit. Jim McGuinness has them performing consistently and they will make life difficult for Kerry.
Jack O’Connor faces the challenge of having six days to implement a gameplan to counteract Donegal. What I like about the Ulster champions is that they put the opposition team on the back foot before the game even starts.
O’Connor has to work out how to get the ball into the forward line because Donegal will dictate the terms of the game. I think it will be a very close game but when it comes to the crunch I feel Donegal will have the desire to get over the line. Their time has come and I think they just may do it.
DOWN HAD A good win against a Tipperary side with momentum behind them. They’ve recovered well after the Ulster final but I think Mayo are a lot better than people give them credit for.
We haven’t seen the real Mayo to date so we can’t judge how good they are. But, there is always one big game on them. I think they will perform next weekend. They are an organised unit and work very hard for each other.
Their defence has improved but their forward line has been inconsistent. James Horan has changed around the full-forward line so it doesn’t really have a settled look to it. I think they will be better than Down in Croke Park, though, and I see them progressing from that one.
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