After another busy weekend in the Super 8s, two teams are through to the semi-finals, two teams are out of contention while the rest are battling it out for the final spots. It’s all reflected in this week’s power rankings.
The All Ireland champions retain their top spot this week after they came away from Omagh with a win. If ever the Dubs were going to slip up it was away to Tyrone but they showed their class to close out a 1-14 to 0-14 win. They are now securely through to the All Ireland semi final having topped Group 2.
They defended really well, made good decisions on the ball and showed great composure when Tyrone were looking to launch a comeback. There is still plenty of issues for Jim Gavin’s men to address, many of Stephen Cluxton’s kick-outs went awry but they have a dead-rubber game with Roscommon to sort them out.
Kevin Walsh’s Galway are the second team to secure their place in the All Ireland final following their victory over Kildare in Newbridge. It was not an easy ride for them however with only one point between the teams heading into additional time. Tom Flynn, Ian Burke and Damien Comer were particularly impressive for the Connacht champions.
They now face into the challenge of Monaghan and should they lose, they will be faced with the daunting task of facing Dublin in the semi-final. However a win or a draw will be enough to see them top the group and avoid that scenario.
Mickey Harte will be proud of how his players performed on Sunday though he is sure to be disappointed to come away without the win from what was probably their best chance to catch the Dubs. Niall Sludden and Peter Harte were once again impressive but their were denied any real periods of possession or attacks by the swarming Dublin defence. They ran out of steam a bit at the end when they were trying to claw their way back in.
They now face into a “winner takes all” game with Donegal with the winner progressing and the loser facing an extended summer.
Monaghan showed flashes of utter brilliance against Kerry while being equally frustrating at times. Rory Beggan’s kick-outs were exceptional, they dominated midfield while Conor McManus was scoring for fun up front. But they kicked a huge number of wides, hit some into the keeper’s hands and tried to force goals at times all which ultimately led to them drawing the game instead of winning.
It’s still all to play for for Malachy O’Rourke’s side with a semi-final spot on the line in their trip to Pearse Stadium to face Galway in two weeks time.
What can you say about Kerry? Even when they are playing poorly, they still manage to keep within touching distance of their opponents. Everyone is saying that they are going through a period of transition but that is being fast-tracked by the performances of young players such as Tom O’Sullivan, Seán O’Shea and of course their latest messiah, David Clifford.
They managed to snatch a draw against Monaghan without playing well but that will not be enough to get them over the line next time out. They live to see another day but it might well prove to be their last if there isn’t a drastic improvement, especially in their defence.
Last weekend saw Donegal back to their best. They were strong in defence and free-flowing in attack with Michael Murphy in spectacular form. But that was the easiest opposition they will face in this tournament. If they are to progress to the semi-finals, they will need to beat Tyrone and while it looks like Declan Bonner’s men are coming into their best form at just the right time, Tyrone will be favourites going into the game.
The story of the summer has sadly reached it’s end. From ‘Newbridge or Nowhere’ to knocking out Mayo, Kildare have entertained us all season. They have some fantastic players in the likes of Kevin Flynn, Paul Cribbin and Daniel Flynn and they have played with a refreshing openness. They have come a long way since they lost to Carlow earlier this summer and if Cian O’Neill stays at the helm, they will continue to progress. They will still have a say in this championship – the result of their game with Kerry will decide who will be the second team to progress from Group 1.
A disappointing end to what many were hoping would be a breakthrough season for Kevin McStay’s men. They made little impact in their game against Donegal but that was more a result of Donegal’s style of play rather than Roscommon’s. They will have to be relatively pleased with their season as a whole. They had some impressive displays with the likes of Enda Smith, the Murtagh brothers and Cathal Cregg shining. They still have to play one more game this season but their aim will have to be to return to the Super 8s without too much fuss again next year.