We look at five main talking points from Saturday’s GAA matches.
Kerry could be set to finally break Dublin’s dominance.
Based on Saturday’s performance, Kerry have every ingredient to stop Dublin from becoming the first GAA team to win seven consecutive All-Irelands. They have a superstar in David Clifford and won five consecutive All-Ireland Minor Championships between 2014-2018. They are also in a pole position to win the yet to be completed 2020 All-Ireland Minor Championship.
Their team is well-balanced and is starving for success. They’ve only lost two of their last seven competitive games against Dublin. On paper, they’re definitely Dublin’s main competitors. If they win Munster this year, they’ll face the Ulster champions in the All-Ireland semi-final. Kerry could be nicely set up for an All-Ireland final crack at the all-conquering Dubs.
Donegal extend excellent record over Tyrone, as Paul Donaghy kicks 10 points for the losers.
Declan Bonner has done a fantastic job since taking over Donegal. He has picked up two Ulster Championships, a division two league title and a McKenna Cup. Tyrone beat them in the 2018 All-Ireland Super 8’s series, but the teams have met four times since and Donegal have won all four of those games.
Donegal deserved their two-point win last night, although Tyrone’s Michael O’Neill was sent off early in the second half. O’Neill’s second yellow card did look harsh and Tyrone will see it as a major turning point in proceedings.
Paul Donaghy starred for Dungannon Clarke’s last year, who won their first championship in 64 years. 22 year-old Donaghy kicked 0-10 for Tyrone, four of which came from play, as his side went down in their first match without Mickey Harte at the helm in 19 years.
What stage are Tipperary and Cork at?
There are two ways to spin Tipperary’s form since winning the 2019 All-Ireland title. You could say they’ve not performed since, as they’ve won only three of 10 games since beating Kilkenny.
The other way to look at it would be they were very close to beating Galway in last year’s All-Ireland quarter-final, after being reduced to 14 men for a lot of the second half and they’ve started 2021 unbeaten with two good performances.
The truth probably lies somewhere in the middle of those two statements, though Tipperary have not had a bad start to this campaign. They salvaged a draw last night after hitting 17 wides and would have been comfortable victors had they been more clinical.
Cork on the other hand are another team that are hard to make out. They can play some excellent hurling on their day but are frustratingly inconsistent.
Robbie O’Flynn is a big player for Cork. He was suspended against Waterford in last year’s Munster Championship when Cork were outclassed, while he made a big difference when featuring in their subsequent qualifier win over Dublin. Cork struggled last night after O’Flynn went off and they will hope the injury he picked up is not significant.
Mayo look set for promotion back to top-flight
Yesterday marked the first time in 24 years that Mayo played a league game outside of the top division. They claimed a 13-point victory over Down, with a very good performance to go with it.
If they win one of their next two games against Meath or Westmeath, they should be in a promotion play-off, which they will be favourites to win.
Tommy Conroy scored 1-3 from play and Cillian O’Connor was ever-reliable on frees. They’ve not gone away yet, despite all the recent retirees!
Kildare GAA are coming across both codes, with two wins on Saturday.
It was a great day for Kildare GAA yesterday. Their footballers defeated Cork on a score-line of 2-12 to 0-14, while their hurlers claimed a 27 point victory over Donegal.
The Kildare footballers finally could start delivering on their years of underage success and some of their forwards yesterday were very impressive, particularly Jimmy Hyland, Neil Flynn and Darragh Kirwan.
They should definitely reach a promotion play-off now, which they will fancy their chances of winning. They came third in division two last year, after a horrendous start and they squandered a winning position against Meath in the Leinster semi-final. If they can go one better in both competitions it will be a fantastic year for them.
Kildare hurlers won the 2020 Christy Ring Cup and will definitely expect to win promotion in division 2b and with good structures in place, they could be a hurling county ready to step up.