It was a busy weekend in the Football Championship with plenty to dissect following shock wins, drab encounters and talk of two-tiers.
Roscommon pulled off their first win in Castlebar since 1986 to condemn Mayo to the qualifiers. Dublin, as expected, got their campaign off to a facile 26-point win over Louth while Tyrone had 16 to spare against Antrim and Meath hammered a lowly Carlow.
Donegal and Laois were made to work hard for their wins over Fermanagh and Westmeath respectively, while Longford and Kildare must do it all over again this weekend.
In light of the one-sided wins and talk of two-tiers, we’ve put together a stock report following an interesting weekend of GAA action.
Whose Stock Rose?
The Kerry native now plying his trade with Roscommon looked a real star on Saturday night. Played as a traditional full-forward and ran All-Star, Brendan Harrison, ragged all night. He was the standout player on a standout night for Roscommon football, kicking 0-5 over 70 minutes.
No doubt he will be a marked man come the Connacht final and beyond but that’s because of the clear threat he poses to any team. Strong as an ox, quick off the mark, intelligent and a breathtakingly good kicker of the ball.
Looks the real deal for the Rossies. Something they’ve possibly been lacking over the past few seasons.
Westmeath made headlines around the country last week following a huge win over Offaly in the Joe McDonagh Cup, however, they came crashing back down to earth this week when a Shane Conway inspired Kerry came away with a two-point win in Mullingar.
Conway hit 0-13 for the Kingdom in the win which blew the table wide open.
The Kerry men will fancy their chances now in the final two group games with the in-form Laois and out of sorts, Offaly.
One of the country’s top referees appeared on the Late Late Show on Friday night where he discussed his life as an openly gay inter-county referee and the struggles that he has had to face.
Gough also delighted the nation with the news that the GAA had accepted an invitation from the Dublin Pride to walk alongside them in next month’s festival.
— The Late Late Show (@RTELateLateShow) May 24, 2019
On top of all that, Gough put the evening suit to one side and donned his referee’s gear on Saturday night in Castlebar as Roscommon put Mayo to the sword. Gough’s performance throughout the 70 minutes was exemplary. His acceptance for hard-hitting (but fair) football made for a truly entertaining match from start to finish.
An example too, not just young referees, but any young person in Ireland.
Whose Stock Crashed?
Brolly’s shtick is getting tiresome.
Yet again the discussion of tiered systems raised its head at the weekend following Dublin and Tyrone’s easy provincial victories and rightly so, it is time that changes were made to the football championship. Forget talk of media coverage, every team should go into championship season with a realistic chance of winning, that’s just common sense.
However, given Brolly’s stature and the platform he is afforded surely he can do more than just lament the current systems. Time and time again he refuses to offer up meaningful solutions. Contrast this to Kieran Donaghy, who in the infancy of his punditry career has already penned a detailed alternative system to the current championship structures.
His personal attacks against some of the Mayo team following a disappointing loss also painted the Derry man in a cruel light. Rob Hennelly has gone through a lot in his football career and he will forever be attached to the All-Ireland final of 2016. He’s forced his way back in this season and has done well for the large part. Obviously, the Roscommon game didn’t go his way but I can only imagine the nerve it took him to get back out there following such a public meltdown and to have one of the most high-profile voices in the game continually tarnish your name… not cool Joe.
The Erne men have had a great season thus far. They so nearly got promoted to Division 1 when many had predicted relegation for Rory Gallagher’s side.
Coming off the back of an Ulster final appearance last season, the hope would have been that Fermanagh could make strides similar to Donegal in 2011, who under Rory Gallagher’s tutelage (alongside Jim McGuinness of course), went from the ‘black death’ of Gaelic football to All-Ireland champions.
Obviously, it was always unlikely that Fermanagh were going to pull off such a drastic turnaround, however, by now they really should have come up with an attacking strategy to complement their defensive system which clearly works well. They did keep Donegal scoreless for 18 minutes but they offered nothing in attack.
Ryan Jones, Ultan Kelm and Barry Mulrone all hit excellent points on the day. There’s talent there somewhere, time to start using it.
There was huge optimism facing Mayo coming into 2019 following news of James Horan’s return. The hullaballoo went up a notch when they claimed a first national title in 18 years back in March and given his 100 per cent record in Connacht it was expected that Mayo would at least make a provincial final appearance.
However, it is the qualifiers for Mayo. They’ve navigated their way through the back-door all the way to the All-Ireland final before but can this team do it with the added pressure of the Super 8s thrown in there? Only time will tell.