We look at the five main talking points from Saturday’s Gaelic football action.
Seven Gaelic football matches took place on Saturday in what was the penultimate round of the league. We’ve looked at five of the key discussion points from the day’s Gaelic football action.
It was a historic day for the GAA as it was the first time since the pandemic began that supporters were able to attend inter-county matches.
1. Shane McGuigan outstanding for an impressive Derry side.
Shane McGuigan is a brilliant footballer. He’s won numerous accolades with his club Slaughtneil and is delivering on the big stage for Derry at the moment.
His left foot is superb and he is one of the best place-kickers in Ireland. He delivered again yesterday scoring eight points as Derry defeated Cavan.
He is far from the only top player in this Derry team, however. Conor Glass, Christopher McKaigue, Brendan Rodgers and Niall Loughlin are also standing out for the Ulster side who possess a good manager in Rory Gallagher.
They will be red hot favourites to beat Limerick in the league semi-final and return to division two for the first time since 2017.
Derry have enough quality players to keep progressing and to make a serious stab at returning to division one in the next few years.
2. John Maughan’s Offaly on the cusp of promotion.
John Maughan is doing outstanding work with Offaly. Yesterday’s win over Munster champions Tipperary was their fourth win in five matches.
They are now one game away from promotion to division two and they’ve never been in the second division since the new league format came into place in 2008.
They face Fermanagh in the league semi-finals and Offaly will see this as a huge opportunity to get promoted.
The county seems to be in a solid place at the moment as they are in Leinster Minor football and hurling finals and have secured the backing of local golfer Shane Lowry.
They’ve improved an awful lot since Maughan took over ahead of the 2019 season and promotion to division two would be a huge achievement for the midlands side.
3. Tyrone and Donegal reach league semi-finals.
Division one north was finalised yesterday and both games finished level. Tyrone and Monaghan could not be separated and neither could Donegal and Armagh.
Those results ensured that Donegal finished top of the group with Tyrone second, while Armagh and Monaghan finished third and fourth respectively.
Armagh played very well against Donegal and should probably have won the game, though Donegal scored the final four points of the game to steal a draw with Patrick McBrearty outstanding.
Donegal are missing their talisman Michael Murphy so they will be very pleased to have finished top of the group.
4. Limerick’s remarkable rise under Billy Lee continues.
Billy Lee has done an amazing job since taking over Limerick. They have managed to win division four and are now one game away from promotion to division two.
They had a brilliant ten-point victory away to Wicklow on Saturday.
Limerick face a very tricky tie against Derry in the league semi-final so promotion might just be beyond their grasp.
They face Waterford in the Munster championship quarter-final and if they win that match they will have reached three successive Munster semi-finals.
Lee is making very solid, gradual progress with his native county.
5. Fans return to GAA grounds for the first time in 14 months.
One of the key highlights from Saturday’s action was the return of spectators to some inter-county GAA matches.
400 fans plus 100 officials attended Fermanagh vs Longford, Armagh vs Donegal and Tyrone vs Monaghan.
Fans in the north are permitted to attend games and they should be returning to every match in the country from June 7 onwards.
There had been no supporters allowed to attend any inter-county game since March 2020.
Spectators are an integral part of any sporting event so it was great to see them return.