After the first provincial titles of the year were handed out, we look back over the action and see who are the real winners and losers from the weekend.
They still hold that aura about them. One thing becoming a big trait of this Kilkenny side is being a ‘second half team’. It’s a clichéd term that some people may feel to be a load of nonsense, but Kilkenny continue to beat teams in the second half of matches.
Galway were the far better team in the first half, but the second half was a different story. Is it Kilkenny’s conditioning? Did Brian Cody give them the ‘hair dryer treatment’ at half time? Whatever it is, Kilkenny won handsomely in the second half of the game and will take stopping in August and September.
The most criticised championship of all is now by the far the best. Provincial restructures are needed due to the failings of five of the six championships. It is ironic that the one that was the most heavily scrutinised is now the most enjoyable, as we discussed on our podcast last week.
The two replays last weekend provided the most skilful encounters and the most open games. Donegal and Monaghan played out a cracker while Tyrone and Cavan exhibited some great skill levels and great scores. So more plaudits for Ulster football.
What a performance by the Cork corner-forward on Saturday night. He has always been a live wire and a difficult player to mark but on Saturday night, his work rate was rewarded with scores. He gave an exhibition of corner-forward play and was a huge reason behind Cork’s win.
Cork launched long high deliveries and long shots at goal to very little success in the opening quarter, but Cadogan stayed patient, held his position and finally Cork began to deliver ball into him. He was unplayable at times. His first touch was brilliant as was his striking off both his right and left sides.
We don’t want to criticise officials again, but we cannot help but highlight the penalty incident in the hurling qualifier between Wexford and Offaly on Saturday. At a crunch time in the game, Wexford were awarded a penalty. Goalkeeper Mark Fanning came up and dispatched the ball to the corner. The rebounded off the back stanchion, with the umpires believing the ball hit the post. No goal given.
Luckily, Wexford went on to win the game comfortably and any potential controversy could be cooled. But what if that decision had cost Wexford the game? Going by the ongoings in recent GAA times, would another replay had to have been issued? Who knows?
It may be harsh to single out one Dublin player for their loss to Cork but Chris Crummey’s red card really was preventable. Dublin lost the All-Ireland semi-final to Cork in 2013 and many would say the Ryan O’Dwyer’s red card was a massive turning point in the game as Cork took over when Dublin went down to 14 men.
Crummey got two yellow cards on Saturday night and both were unnecessary, particularly the second one. It was a crazy tackle that there really was no need for, particularly when on a yellow card already. Cork got ahead and Dublin struggled to chase the game with Cork having an extra player.
Lightning struck again for the Tribesmen. Kilkenny have to be given credit for their second-half performance but Galway fell into the exact same trap as they did in last year’s All-Ireland final. They dominated and led Kilkenny after 35 minutes, but managed to get well beaten again.
The worrying thing for Galway will be the similarities between yesterday and last September. A Leinster crown would have been a big deal for them, and now they face a quarter-final. They may get back on track, but Kilkenny surely struck a massive psychological blow to them in that second-half.