Round 1 is done and dusted leaving some teams fighting for survival in Round 2 while others will be looking to push on and effectively book their place in the semi-finals. All of that is reflected in this week’s power rankings.
They weren’t as convincing as many people would have expected but the All Ireland champions did enough to get past Donegal with relative ease. Perhaps what would have pleased Jim Gavin the most was the performances of his young players such as Brian Howard and Niall Scully who bagged a brace of goals.
However they will be annoyed at themselves for not killing off the Ulster champions the way they would have done in previous years. For example, in the opening minutes Donegal goalkeeper Shaun Patton sent two kick-outs straight to the Dublin forwards but neither Dean Rock nor Ciarán Kilkenny punished them for it. The Dubs will be looking to rectify their mistakes before other teams smell blood. Makes for an epic showdown against Tyrone in Omagh next week.
Galway move up a place following their win over Kerry at the weekend. It was far from a polished performance but they showed resilience nonetheless to earn their first championship victory over Kerry in 53 years. Their bench showed their worth when they came on, especially Adrian Valley who registered two points but they were still heavily reliant on the place kicking of Shane Walsh.
Unfortunately for the Tribesmen they lost their warrior, Paul Conroy to injury during the game with it being confirmed yesterday that the St James man suffered a double leg break. Although their win was not sealed until Patrick Sweeney’s late goal, Kevin Walsh’s men will still take huge heart and confidence from this win and will carry that with them to Newbridge next weekend where they will face Kildare.
Perhaps the most solid performance of the weekend came from Tyrone who eased past Roscommon without much exertion needed. While they were dominant all over the pitch, Niall Sludden, Peter Harte and Richard Donnelly were particularly impressive for Mickey Harte’s men. At one stage, Enda Smith scored a goal for Roscommon quickly followed by a point to reduce the gap greatly but it didn’t rattle Tyrone one bit and they pushed on, such is the level of their confidence.
This was probably the easiest test for them with games against Dublin and Donegal to go but this team will back themselves completely. They have leaders and big match winners all over the field and they have gained a steely determination since their exit from the Ulster championship. They will be the happier of the two teams heading to Omagh next weekend and they have probably never been in a better position to beat the All Ireland champions.
A poor, poor performance from the Munster champions that really has raised questions about their ability to compete against the other top teams in the country. They eased past Cork in the Munster final and looked a dangerous outfit but the left Croke Park with their tail between their legs on Sunday. David Clifford was their own shining light scoring 1-5 from play but he wasn’t given nearly enough ball to work with while Paul Geaney and James O’Donoghue were uncharacteristically tame.
It leaves them in a precarious position in the Super 8s. They are now in a situation where they are fighting for survival and need a win over Monaghan next Sunday to stay in the competition. But it will be far from easy. They are travelling to Clones to face a team who are steadily improving week-on-week and they will know that this is their best opportunity to knock out a serious contender and have a chance of qualifying themselves.
Donegal will be disappointed with their performance on Saturday evening. Dublin were poor and had Donegal been more efficient, it could have been a much tighter encounter. They badly missed the ingenuity and class of Paddy McBrearty with Michael Murphy lost in the game to a certain extent. A huge issue for them was their kick-outs which went astray a number of times. However, Patton was very effective in his one-on-one saves.
Jamie Brennan had their best opportunity on goal as he beat two Dublin defenders to possession but his shot blade high and wide into the delighted Hill 16 crowd. They had a possible penalty call turned down but apart from those two incidents, Stephen Cluxton was never really troubled. They now must win against Roscommon to remain in the race and while the fixture may not grab the headlines of say, Dublin and Tyrone, it is bound to be a scintillating encounter between two evenly matched teams fighting for survival.
Monaghan will have been delighted to come away from Croke Park with the full two points last weekend. It was a tough game and one they would have learned many lessons from but they were fully deserving of their win although it wasn’t sealed until two lates points from Conor McManus and Rory Beggan. They were far more physical and their use of the ball was much more efficient than Kildare but what will have worried them was how they allowed Daniel Flynn to run riot among their defence.
They had seven different scorers registered by the end of the game which will have pleased Malachy O’Rourke. They are well able to take scores from distance which will be a huge asset going forward. They lie at the top of the leaderboard in the group with Galway and automatically have an advantage over Kerry. Home advantage will be massive for them next weekend and with Kerry struggling at the moment, the momentum of their various wins in the qualifiers will stand to them.
Tyrone were hot favourites going into this clash but Roscommon will be disappointed with the manner in which they allowed them to play. While they remained within touching distance of Tyrone for the first 20 minutes, Tyrone moved up a gear and Kevin McStay’s team were not able to match it. Their handling errors gifted Tyrone a number of scores and while points from the Murtagh brothers kept the scoreboard ticking over, they were living off scraps for the majority of the game.
But we all know how well this team can play and how effective their marquee players like Enda Smith and Cathal Cregg can be. They will know that they are not as poor as what they played last weekend and will back themselves against Donegal.
Kildare’s run of form finally came to an end when they came up against a more organised outfit in Monaghan on Sunday. It was a nail in the coffin for Cian O’Neill’s side who now have to face into a game with Galway and one which they must win to stay in contention. It was a tight affair in Croke Park but they will be disappointed with their loss, especially considering that they have only won one game in GAA HQ since 2011.
The performance of Daniel Flynn was a huge positive for them. He was utterly uncontainable, scoring 1-1 and was the catalyst of every attack they made. They have a strong midfield pairing in Feely and Moolick and will have to feature them more next weekend. Kildare have powerful forwards but the key is to give them enough decent ball to work with and if they can manage that, they will rattle the Connacht champions.