Here are the five talking points from Sunday’s GAA action.
Sunday was an entertaining day of GAA action as Kerry and Dublin treated viewers to a thrilling encounter. Limerick’s post-All-Ireland final misery continued against Waterford, while Cork ranked up 7-27 against Westmeath.
Paddy Cunningham proved that class is permanent while Colm Collins again worked his magic. We look at five of the main talking points from the games that took place.
GAA talking points.
1. Kerry and Dublin look miles ahead of the rest.
Kerry and Dublin played out a fantastic game of football in Thurles on Sunday. It was honest, skillful, physical, competitive – all of the traits that make Gaelic Football such an attractive sport to watch. It was two very good teams who play football the right way.
Dublin were ruthless and blitzed Kerry for three first half goals. Often when that happens, opponents cave in and the games over, leading to some facile scorelines emerging.
Kerry are different, however, and they are a county that doesn’t fear Dublin and always expect to beat them. Watching Dublin win six All-Ireland’s would have hurt Kerry deeply.
On Sunday, it looked to have been another one of those hard luck stories, but Kerry fought until the bitter end and it was interesting to note that it was their substitute Stephen O’Brien who won the penalty late on.
This highlights that Kerry are becoming the only county to rival Dublin’s strength in depth and at this stage of the competition, both sides look like they are drifting away from the chasing pack.
2. Something is not quite right in Limerick after third successive winless game.
The pubs have been closed since last December, but Limerick are definitely nursing a post-All-Ireland final hangover. Limerick have been very flat in their first three games. They have taken one point from a possible six and Tipperary will argue that they should have won that game.
John Kiely’s side played 13 games in 2020 and won all 13 of them. They were playing well on Sunday up until Seamus Flanagan’s red card. From that point onwards, momentum swayed in Waterford’s favour.
Limerick should not panic just yet, as there’s a long way to go to the Championship. However, since 2018, they have been known for gathering huge momentum through winning matches, so their recent performances will definitely be of some concern to Kiely.
Flanagan and Kyle Hayes were sent off on Sunday and both of those players will be big losses in their next game against an in-form Cork side. That game is a dress rehearsal for the Munster semi-final.
Limerick have always taken the last few league campaigns seriously, winning the last two titles. Their title defence is over after Sunday’s defeat and they will want to end this winless run as soon as possible.
3. Colm Collins pulls off another shock victory in Sunday’s GAA action.
Kildare footballers looked excellent when beating Cork last Saturday week. The forward line clicked well, they defended very strongly and they dominated a strong Cork team.
Clare also played very well against Laois, but the general consensus was that Kildare would be too strong for them. Colm Collins had other ideas, however.
Collins led Clare to victory over Kildare in the 2020 league campaign and he proved it was no fluke by backing it up with a superb win on Sunday.
Clare face Cork next weekend. If Clare win or draw that game then they are in a promotion play-off and they could still be there with a defeat if other results go their way.
Collins took over Clare ahead of the 2014 season and this is his eighth season in charge. Clare were in division four when he took over.
He now has them on the brink of division one football, which he has stated is a huge goal of his. What an amazing job he has done.
4. Galway bounce back against Roscommon.
Galway footballers suffered a heavy defeat Kerry in the first round. Kerry were lethal that day and won by 22 points. That can happen from time to time when everything goes wrong for a team.
The most important aspect from a Galway perspective was the response against Roscommon and Padraic Joyce’s side produced a very good performance on Sunday to get their campaign back on track.
Shane Walsh and Rob Finnerty delivered and Galway can avoid a relegation play off if they beat Dublin at home next week. That may be unlikely though they will certainly fancy their chances of winning a relegation play-off against Ulster opposition.
Roscommon, on the other hand, must prepare for a relegation play-off. They face Kerry next weekend and a heavy defeat could be on the cards.
Anthony Cunningham’s side have to prepare themselves for the relegation play-off, which will be against an Ulster team, and hope that they can avoid relegation straight back to division two.
5. Paddy Cunningham does it again for Antrim.
Paddy Cunningham is an incredible footballer. He stood out for Antrim when they reached an Ulster final against all the odds in 2009. He is battling Crohn’s disease and came out of retirement ahead of the 2020 campaign. Cunningham is a star at division four level.
He scored the winning point for Antrim against Sligo. Cunningham stepped up to deliver the goods as he has done many times in the past, as Antrim booked their place in a promotion play-off. This was one of the main highlights from Sunday’s GAA action.
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Aontroim 3-13 (22)
Sligeach 3-12 (21)
— Antrim GAA (@AontroimGAA) May 23, 2021
Antrim narrowly missed out on promotion in 2020 and will really hope to go one better this time around.
They have a strong manager in Enda McGinley and if they are to be promoted, it may well be Cunningham again who seals the deal for them.