Could it be 1957 all over again for Kerry? Surely not...
It slipped past most people’s radars but Waterford have secured an agreement with Kerry that should Eamonn Fitzmaurice’s men beat Tipperary in their May Munster SFC quarter-final, they will face the Déise six days later. Waterford, despite Niall Carew being the last managerial appointment of 2012, are unbeaten in Division Four after two impressive displays against Clare and Tipperary. Kerry looked as likely to pick up a point in their first two games as QPR’s chances are of surviving in the Premier League. Let’s not kid ourselves, there’s a yawning difference between the top flight and the bottom rung of the ladder but could two games in six days, providing Kerry dispose of Tipperary, be asking too much of the Kingdom? It seemed rather a strange request to accept. Kildare native Carew has his players hopping off the ground right now and they are looking so much more than also-rans they would have been portrayed as before the start of the campaign. Kerry will come good this year, you would imagine, but the possibility of two games in the space of six days is a mite excessive not to mention it could mean the Munster final, should Kerry win it, would be their one game in nine weeks.
- John Fogarty
Dublin are cruising - ominously
There would have been an onus on Division One’s new teams this year, Kildare and Tyrone, to start like freight trains in their opening couple of games. But for Paul Durcan’s mistake and a late Cork collapse, Kildare could be staring at zero points from their two outings. Tyrone were fortunate in their last gasp win against Mayo. Dublin, on the other hand who are the only other team with the full complement of points in the top flight, have played within themselves and yet won their two games comfortably. But for Craig Dias’ goal, Bernard Brogan and Paddy Andrews would have been the only two scorers from play, a statistic which would have borne out how defensively Dublin were set up in Killarney yesterday.
Attacking Kerry’s kick-out and relying on accurate foot-passing to counter-break Kerry, their tactics were spot on. Against Cork the previous week, they humbled the opposition with more exertion at restarts and an eagerness to turn defence into attack. The question now is what is more scary - the fact that all going well for them they are likely to have just one more game outside of Croke Park this year (v Donegal in April) or that, despite using 39 players so far this year, Jim Gavin has yet to introduce the likes of Cullen, Nolan, Alan Brogan, Cahill, Kilkenny, O’Gara, Fitzsimons, McCarthy, Rock and McMahon. Be afraid.
- John Fogarty
Cork won’t be winning a fourth Division One title in a row
The record of Enda Kenny’s father Henry in winning six consecutive NFL medals is safe – Cork will not be adding to the three-in-a-row of Division 1 titles this year.
A knee-jerk reaction perhaps on the back of two defeats, especially as they were likelier winners before Damien Cahalane’s sending-off, but overall things appear to be far more relaxed than in the years when the league was won.
Conor Counihan’s quotes after Saturday night’s game showed that, while he isn’t happy to be in the position they are in now, it’s not a disaster either: “It isn’t the place we wanted to be but we are there and maybe it isn’t a bad place to be either, and when I say a bad place maybe there are lessons to be learned down there too.
“Maybe we have to graft a little more, maybe we were a bit spoilt in the past that we were getting on top. Now we are at the bottom and we have to fight our way out of it and that takes character.”
Will Cork be in the league semi-finals? No. Will they be in the All-Ireland semi-finals? Yes.
- Denis Hurley
Tyrone haven't gone away, you know...
ON the evidence of most of yesterday’s match in Castlebar, rumours of Tyrone’s demise have been greatly exaggerated.
They remain well-prepared, supremely-organised and tactically astute, and Mickey Harte is still able to call on a handful of experienced and proven All-Ireland winners around whom he is building his 2013 outfit.
The McMahon brothers, Sean Cavanagh, Peter Harte and Stephen O’Neill all played down the middle for Tyrone yesterday, and along with Conor Clarke, Mark Donnelly and influential sweeper, Patrick McNiece, did most to bend the game to the winners’ will.
Harte smiled afterwards as he contemplated Tyrone’s next outing, against Donegal in Omagh on March 3, which serves as a dress rehearsal for their Ulster SFC clash in May.
We will know a little more about their true worth this day three weeks.
From a Mayo perspective, this was ‘a school day’ for James Horan and his players.
Horan lamented Mayo’s failure to ‘be smart’ and ‘think’ their way past Tyrone’s excellent defensive system. The statistics back up his assessment; they failed to score for 56 minutes from play, and 1-3 of their final tally came in the last eight minutes.
Mayo are at their best when they play the game at pace, and to high intensity but that didn’t happen yesterday. They have work to do.
- Mike Finnerty
...And Donegal have no intention of it either!
Jim McGuinness has made no secret of his plans for the National Football League - breeding players that can be of use in the championship.
McGuinness’s assistant Rory Gallagher last week noted the Donegal management team used “a fairly rigid 18 or 19” players last summer and are looking to add to that total this season.
Ryan McHugh, Martin’s son and Mark’s brother, made a useful first start in the 0-12 to 0-7 win over Down and Ross Wherity had a much improved outing compared to against Kilare.
Michael Murphy looks in ominously excellent form, having scored 0-29 in four outings - two for Donegal and a couple for DCU in the Sigerson Cup - this year. The captain is allowed to flitter between centre-forward and full-forward and after undergoing two operations in early season last year, has hit the ground running this time.
Donegal, on year three under McGuinness, are evolving again, with the most noticeable factor at this early juncture being the swiftness of hand-passing and movement from the back.
Down manager James McCartan can point to the absence of big hitters like Dan Gordon, Danny Hughes and Ambrose Rogers, while Benny Coulter wasn’t fit to start.
The worrying thing for McCartan will be the way his side concede masses of scores when not at their best, despite having plenty of men back when not in possession. Donegal won by five points but at a canter against a team who they hit 2-18 against in the Ulster final last year.
Down then capitulated against Mayo in the All-Ireland quarter-final, with James Horan’s team bagging 3-18. And next up for Down is the one team that have caused them more trouble than most in recent years - Cork.
- Alan Foley