The Gaelic football provincial series came to a less than dramatic conclusion on Sunday as Dublin collected their ninth Leinster SFC title in a row following a facile 16-point win over Meath.
The game followed a less than spectacular finish to a rip-roaring Ulster campaign as Donegal swatted aside the Cavan challenge in Clones to lift their fifth provincial championship this decade.
On Saturday, we were left smiling after Kerry were pushed all the way by a surprising Cork outfit in the Munster final.
It was also a huge weekend in hurling with three All-Ireland titles up for grabs in Croke Park. The feast of hurling started with Leitrim’s extra-time win over Lancashire in the Lory Meagher final before Meath routed Down to collect the Christy Ring Cup. It finished with Sligo’s dramatic finale, scoring 1-2 in the closing minutes to defeat Armagh by a single point in the Nicky Rackard final.
Here is our weekly Stock Watch following a weekend that saw six pieces of silverware handed out.
Whose Stock Rose?
Without Joanne Cantwell, The Sunday Game would not be worth watching, such is the tactical insights given by Sky Sports.
For too long, the Joe Brollys of this world were allowed to say whatever they wanted without reprimand. As well as that, the hurling pundits were left to swoon over ‘the greatest game in the world’ without ever highlighting the vast issues when it comes to promoting teams outside the top-tier.
That has all changed now with Cantwell. She started her tenure by challenging Joe Brolly. She put it to Donal Óg Cusack and Anthony Daly last week about the issues hurling faces in weaker parts of the country, refusing to let them swat aside the question. On Sunday she did something that we thought RTÉ were afraid to do… she questioned the funding that Dublin received and how this helped propel them to a status where they look unbeatable. About time it was addressed on television.
The footballers may have exited the Championship following a three-goal defeat to Clare on Saturday evening but it wasn’t all doom and gloom for the minnow county as their hurling team climbed the steps of the Hogan Stand for the first time ever and lifted an All-Ireland title.
It marks a celebratory ending to what must surely be the greatest season in Leitrim GAA’s history. While 1994 was probably bigger considering they won a Connacht title, the fact that they performed to their maximum in both codes this year with both sides appearing in Croke Park finals is something to be proud of. A stellar season for Leitrim.
We’ve covered the county quite a bit over the past few months and you can catch up on all those stories here.
Donegal have really stood up this year. Relegated to Gaelic football’s second tier last season, they bounced back at the first time of asking before going on to collect a fifth Ulster title this decade following Sunday’s win over Cavan.
They have marked themselves out as Dublin’s biggest threat this year (apart from Dublin themselves) and at the moment are playing the best football in the country.
Jamie Brennan has been the most consistent player in the most consistent team in Ireland. He scored 0-4 from play against Fermanagh before backing that up with 1-3 as Donegal shocked most of the experts by beating Tyrone. He rounded off his provincial campaign with 1-4 in Sunday’s final and is rightly being talked up as the most in-form forward in the country right now.
Whose Stock Crashed?
The Royals will be kicking themselves following Sunday’s poor showing against Dublin and rightly so.
Meath had promised so much this season following their barnstorming league campaign that saw them promoted back to Division 1 for the first time in over a decade.
They managed to navigate their way to a Leinster SFC final but on the day kicked a measly 0-4 as Dublin put them to the sword in the second half. It’s not all doom and gloom for the Royal County. Promotion to Division 1 was the goal and that’s been achieved. They would have targeted making a Leinster final – which they did do – and now stand an excellent chance of qualifying for the Super 8s. Had you offered that to any Meath fan back in January, they’d have bitten your hand off.
However, their performance on Sunday cannot be ignored.
It’s become a total embarrassment. Dublin have now won nine in a row and the big question is when does it stop? There can be no disputing that they have been aided financially and that has given them a more solid grounding for success than the other 11 counties.
However, it must be stated that Meath only scored 0-4 on Sunday and missed a plethora of very scoreable chances. On top of that, Kildare were presented with four-goal opportunities in the Leinster semi-final and converted zero.
Dublin have advantages that are clear to see, and the sentiment being pedalled that ‘teams need to get their own house in order’ is totally wrong, but we can’t let teams off the hook for abysmal performances like Meath’s on Sunday. Dublin can’t be blamed for Meath and Kildare’s failures.
This is a serious question. Is Marty a journalist or a PR spin doctor for the GAA.
If it is the latter then that’s grand, his job is to paint the GAA in a positive light. However, if he considers himself to be a journalist (as I’m sure his RTÉ staff card says) then it is his job to properly probe into the inequalities of the organisation.
RTÉ sanctioned an eight-minute video package this past weekend where Marty looks to get to the bottom of why Dublin are so dominant in Leinster.
When it came to asking the tough questions surrounding the disproportionate funding that Dublin receive, Marty bottled it by half-answering the question saying; “Is it begrudgery? Is your reaction to say, ‘well lads, ye get your house in order. We’ve done it.'”
Despicable stuff really from Ireland’s national broadcaster.