This weekend’s GAA semi-finals were the best games of the summer in terms of excitement, score taking, and surprise.
Mayo and Kerry’s clash had everything in an enthralling climax to their exquisite two-game saga. If that wasn’t enough, Donegal caused one of the biggest upsets in recent years, sinking Dublin at HQ.
John Ivory is here to rate the top players from the weekend’s GAA action.
5. Diarmuid Connolly/ Paul Flynn – Dublin
These two men accounted for half of Dublin’s scores on an afternoon where the usually potent inside forward line were kept well under wraps. When Dublin were on top in the opening quarter, this duo were popping over point under duress from all angles.
They are two tremendous ‘’traditional’’ wing forwards; good in the air, powerful runners and accurate finishers. They kept trying to drive on in the second half but their efforts were to no avail.
4. Cillian O’Connor – Mayo
O’Connor had another brilliant day in Limerick despite Mayo’s heartbreaking loss. His final tally of 2-5 was a mixture of well dispatched frees, one precise penalty and another vital goal for Mayo.
O’Connor was extremely economical in his use of the ball too, and brought other players into the game. His clash with Aiden O’Shea was a cataclysmic blow to their cause, but upon his return, he showed no ill effects. Jason Doherty and Andy Moran also grabbed some fine scores in a brave performance by Mayo.
3. James O’Donoghue – Kerry
Once again, the Legion clubman’s stock rose with another exciting display in Limerick. The way he linked up with the colossus, Kieran Donaghy, meant that there was consternation in the Mayo full back line every time the ball was sent in.
He once again proved that he is a top forward, pouncing on any half chance and converting crucial scores. He gave an exhibition in off the ball running. His penalties were clinical on his way to bagging another 2-6 for himself.
2. David Moran – Kerry
Whoever won the midfield battle in Saturday’s replay would have a huge chance at progressing to the All-Ireland final, and thanks to David Moran, that’s how things worked out for Kerry.
He was superb from first to last whistle, catching and breaking ball that resulted in Kerry being on the front foot. He never took too much out of possession, and rarely did anything wrong. He kept going in extra time and his display was central to the Kingdoms victory.
1. Ryan McHugh – Donegal
Even without considering the fact he slotted 2-2, McHugh was outstanding for Donegal. Due to the nature of his roving role, Dublin found it extremely hard to mark him, and this was illustrated when he was unmarked for almost all his scores.
He covered every blade of grass twice, but it wasn’t aimlessly running in any way. He was in the right place for both goals and finished them expertly. Michael Murphy, the McGee’s, Karl Lacey and Odhran MacNiallais were all in fine form for Donegal also.
John Ivory, Pundit Arena.