The GAA Talking Points series returns after a break this week, as we look at some of the GAA stories that have been in the news recently.
End of the Road for Dublin Hurlers?
This website discussed what a big game Dublin hurlers had against Tipperary in the All-Ireland Hurling Quarter-Final. We felt that a loss for Dublin would lead to comparisons with Galway in that they were an inconsistent and unreliable team. The performance against Tipperary did little to change that opinion.
They completely failed to perform and the pattern of performances in consecutive seasons shows a huge balance of inconsistency. A good 2011 was followed by a poor 2012. Then a good 2013 was followed by a poor 2014. It may only be four seasons at the top tier but Dublin were a massive disappointment this year.
The most mind boggling thing was the type of game that Dublin were trying to play. It certainly did not look like hurling. Short passing is well and good but it must be played at a ferocious pace. Their use of the ball was very poor and they brought no real physicality or intensity to the game.
To say it is the end of the road make be a bit extreme, but the lack of natural hurlers coming through is worrying. Danny Sutcliffe is the one player that looks like a real natural hurler. A lot of the others look to be manufactured and that will not cut it at the highest level. There is a big challenge for the Dubs to come back again.
Clare Under-21’s March On
The season may have ended prematurely for the Clare senior hurlers but their under-21s are showing no signs of ending their quest for All-Ireland glory. They won their third consecutive Munster title with a very easy win over Cork and now their star-studded line-up will be looking to secure a third All-Ireland in a row.
The talent of the under-21 side is exceptional. Tony Kelly, Shane O’Donnell and Colm Galvin all started last year’s All-Ireland Senior Hurling Final Replay against Cork and are still showcasing their class at under-21 level. The likes of Peter Duggan, Jack Browne, Bobby Duggan, Aaron Cunningham and Jamie Shanahan have also featured for the senior team and they will take some stopping in the All-Ireland series.
This latest win will be a boost to Clare supporters who may be hurting following their loss to Wexford. This win is a reminder that there is still a wealth of young talent in Clare hurling and this year may be prove to be a beneficial break and a good learning curve for these young players.
It is the debate that never goes away. One of the themes of the summer has most definitely been the topic of the ‘dual player’. What was a regular occurrence in the past has become very rare over the last few years as both hurling and gaelic football have progressed to new levels.
Aidan Walsh made himself available to the Cork hurlers for the first time this season and has added a great deal to the Cork side. Damien Cahalane has also done relatively well following his inclusion while Eoin Cadogan is yet to feature. These have been plusses while on the negative, Padraic Collins’ decision to play football with Clare left a lot of people questioning why he was not as effective on the hurling side this year.
The debate escalated again last weekend following Dublin’s departure from the hurling championship. The players are not coming through for Dublin and the problem of players opting for football over hurling is seen as a big issue.
Ciarán Kilkenny and Cormac Costello are the two best examples of underage hurling stars who have not featured at senior level for Dublin due to football. The debate is should players now choose at a younger age in order to allow the players of lesser ability more playing time?
It is a debate that will continue and continue. Donal Óg Cusack did make a good point that players can play both but they will not maximise their potential. Realistically the issue comes down to management and if managers are prepared to allow it, then players should not be stopped.
GAA President Liam O’Neill was speaking this week about the decline in attendance figures so far this summer. There has been an overall drop-off in attendances, particularly in the football championships. Only 35,000 are predicted to show up between four counties for the first two All-Ireland quarter-finals.
The cost of going to games remains expensive and is certainly not helping to attract people to games. The amount of games is another issue, as fans may decide to save their money for a bigger day out.
The GAA certainly do not do themselves many favours when it comes to attracting crowds to games. There are never any good offers. They offered five euro off tickets for replays if they were purchased up to the day before the game. Five euro is not a big discount.
Another issue is the constant use of Croke Park. Travelling to Dublin is very costly. Take the double header of Mayo-Cork and Kerry-Galway; playing this double header in Limerick would be far more convenient, draw a much bigger crowd and generate a much better atmosphere.
So, it’s all well and good to hear Liam O’Neill complain, but unless his organisation decide to make fixtures more affordable and convenient, crowds could continue to diminish.
Cork have named an unchanged team ahaead of their clash with Mayo. This means newcomers Ian Maguire, Colm O’Driscoll, Brian O’Driscoll and Donal Óg Hodnett are set to retain their places. Mayo are yet to name their team (at time of writing).
In the other quarter-final, Kerry have made one change from the team to face Galway, with Michael Geaney coming in to replace the injured Stephen O’Brien. Geaney is named at wing-forward. Galway have named the same side that defeated Tipperary.
In the qualifiers, Kildare have made three changes to the side that came from behind to beat Clare. Michael Foley, Tomás O’Connor and Eoghan O’Flaherty are all named in the starting line-up at the expense of Emmet Bolton, Gary White and Padraig Fogarty. Monaghan are unchanged from the Ulster final defeat.
The other game involves Meath and Armagh with neither side yet to reveal their selection.
Sean Cremin, Pundit Arena