We look at five key talking points from Saturday’s GAA action.
Each weekend seems to be flooded with GAA matches now that the action has resumed. Fans have gone from famine to feast and Saturday was no different. Here are five key talking points from Saturday’s GAA action, which saw 11 matches taking place across both codes.
1. An impressive performance by Tyrone who will hope for first knockout victory over Kerry or Dublin since 2008.
Tyrone are an unknown quantity. The common consensus is are talented and have the potential to be strong All-Ireland contenders on an annual basis. One of the key talking points from Saturday’s GAA games is what stage are Tyrone at?
Mickey Harte left in 2020 after 17 years at the helm. He brought Sam Maguire into the county for the first time ever and repeated the feat on two more occasions.
There were certainly people in the county who felt his brand of play wasn’t getting the best out of the players at his disposal. One of the criticisms thrown at Harte was that Tyrone were not beating the big teams in big games. They have not beaten Kerry or Dublin in a league or Championship knock-out game since 2008.
Fergal Logan and Brian Dooher replaced him and they picked up their first win on Saturday against fierce rivals Armagh. Darren McCurry was fantastic for the victors, scoring a superb individual point from a very tight angle.
"We needed the two points today"
Brian Dooher of @TyroneGAALive gives his view following his sides win over Armagh in the Gaelic Grounds today as his side are a 'work in progress
— eir Sport (@eirSport) May 22, 2021
Armagh missed a penalty to go four points in the 50th minute, with Niall Morgan denying Stefan Campbell. If that had gone in, Tyrone would likely be facing a relegation play-off.
Instead, they’ll fancy their chances of beating Monaghan next week and reach a league semi-final. If that happens, they should meet Kerry or Dublin in a semi-final, which would give them an excellent chance to end the unwanted record.
2. Tipperary hurlers have a great opportunity to win their first league title in 13 years.
Saturday’s five point victory over Galway ensured that Tipperary maintained their unbeaten start to the season. The last time they went through a league campaign unbeaten, was 2008 – Liam Sheedy’s first year at the helm.
Tipperary should definitely beat Westmeath in round four and would fancy themselves against Waterford in the last round. If they win both of those games, the Munster side would be very unlucky not to finish top of the group.
Tipperary have also played very well in their opening three games and could easily have three wins. They haven’t won a league title in 13 years, though the 2019 All-Ireland champions possess some fantastic hurlers. A key talking point from a Tipperary GAA perspective is how close they are to the top.
They played very well against Galway on Saturday and gained some sort of revenge for last season’s All-Ireland quarter final defeat. Cathal Barrett was sent off on that occasion, but he was excellent yesterday.
Seamus Callanan is due to return to the fold, though Patrick “Bonner” Maher was incredibly unlucky to pick up another serious injury.
Tipperary GAA wish to advise you that Patrick “Bonner” Maher sustained a serious Achilles Tendon injury at training on Thursday. He will now under go surgery next week, which will be followed by a period of recovery. We look forward to seeing him on the playing field soon again. pic.twitter.com/gw4hNs8yrN
— Tipperary GAA (@TipperaryGAA) May 22, 2021
If Tipperary can win their next two matches they could be joint-winners of the competition, as there won’t be a league final unless the 1A and 1B group winners meet in the championship.
More importantly though from Sheedy’s perspective, is that it would set them up perfectly for their Munster semi-final encounter against Waterford or Clare.
3. Derry are flying it after 19 point win over Fermanagh.
Derry possess some excellent footballers. The likes of Shane McGuigan, Christopher McKaigue, Conor Glass and Brendan Rodgers wouldn’t look out of place on any team in Ireland. They have absolutely no business being in division three, though it did not happen overnight.
Derry were relegated from division one in 2015 and were in division four in 2019. They came up from the bottom tier at the first time of asking and are now almost certain to be in a promotion play-off unless freak results occur, due to their positive scoring difference after winning their first two games by 16 and 19 points respectively.
Their manager Rory Gallagher were promoted out of this division with Fermanagh in 2018, while his current side annihilated Fermanagh last night. Ryan McMenamin’s charges, however, lost key midfielder Eoin Donnelly to injury in the opening half, which was a huge blow to their fortunes.
Derry have the resources and potential to once again be a serious force in Gaelic Football. Promotion from division three should be the next step in the process.
4. Cork footballers get their season back on track.
Similar to Derry, Cork footballers have had an awful fall from huge heights. They won an All-Ireland in 2010 and were in division three in 2020, 10 years later.
They walked division three, winning every game on way to lifting the trophy and claimed what was arguably their best ever result since winning the 2010 All-Ireland when eliminating Kerry in last year’s championship. It was their first time knocking Kerry out of the championship since 1999.
The trouble was though that it was followed by arguably their worst result in the last ten years when losing to Tipperary in the Munster final. They then lost to Kildare in their opening league encounter, so Saturday’s eight point win over Laois will have come as a huge relief to Ronan McCarthy and his management team.
If Cork can beat Clare next weekend, they will almost certainly avoid relegation and be one game away from promotion and they will take that, having only gone up last year.
Cork won the 2020 Under-20 and minor All-Ireland championships so there are certainly players coming through. Beating Laois in O’Moore Park would have revoked happy memories, as that was the scene of their 2020 All-Ireland Under-20 success.
5. Offaly claim another victory with Limerick turned over.
John Maughan is doing an exceptional job for Offaly. He took over a team that were constantly division three relegation contenders and has taken them to the brink of promotion. They beat Limerick by two points on Saturday to back up their opening round win over Wicklow.
Offaly will be incredibly unlucky not to reach the promotion play-offs after winning two games and they will not fear their opponents in that encounter. Maughan does not do fear. He sets teams up positively and gets them training hard and efficiently. He is a brilliant coach.
Offaly ran Meath very close in the 2019 championship and did the same to Kildare last year. They are a team going places, under a very good manager.