Outside of the All-Ireland Hurling Final, here are the week’s other talking points from the GAA circuit.
Jimmy’s Winning Matches
The song was huge back in 2012 and now the country can be prepared for more hype surrounding Jim McGuinness and Donegal as they prepare for their second All-Ireland Final in three years. They shocked an awful lot of people with a relatively comfortable win over the so called unbeatable Dublin side. Jimmy was certainly winning matches.
The set-up and template for their victory was very admirable. The majority of people expected Donegal to ‘park the bus’ and try to limit Dublin to almost single figure scores, but Dublin kicked seventeen points, enough to win most football games, and ended up losing by six. It really was remarkable.
They played what looked like counter-attacking football where they simply invited the Dubs to attack and then went about catching them on the break. Goals win matches and Donegal goal broke at pace to punish the lack of Dublin numbers at the back and the rest is history.
Whatever the result was, Donegal would have taken a win, but the manner of their victory was both admirable as well as effective. They came up with a game plan and showed that they have a lot of scoring power in their side. They could take beating in the final.
Footballers moving to and from Australia
Speculation broke a few weeks back and we discussed what appeared to be a real possibility of Down’s Marty Clarke returning to Ireland from Collingwood. This week the news was confirmed that Clarke will be returning which is a boost to Down and the game of football in general.
There was a double boost for Down as Clarke was not the only player to announce his return. Caolan Mooney also announced that he is due to return home and both players will be of huge benefit to the Down side. Mooney made his Down debut as an eighteen year old in 2011 and moved to Collingwood only a few weeks later. Now both players will return to boost Down for 2015.
One player moving in the other direction is Mayo’s Cian Hanley. He will follow in the footsteps of his brother, Pierce Hanley, in moving to Brisbane Lions. Cian recently won a Connacht minor medal with Mayo and will be seen as a big loss going forward. It will be interesting to see if he can have the same success as his brother in his move Down Under.
James Horan Stands Down As Mayo Manager
It was another year of heartbreak for Mayo and it signalled the end of James Horan’s time in charge of the Mayo side. In four years in charge, Horan led the team to two All-Ireland semi-finals along with two All-Ireland finals. Mayo were part of some great games and appeared to make forward strides under Horan, but the Sam Maguire trophy still failed to make it back to Mayo.
There were times under Horan when Mayo looked like potential All-Ireland winners. Their annihilation of Donegal in 2013, their win over Dublin in 2012 were two examples. They also beat Cork, who were defending All-Ireland champions in 2011 and all of these victories seem to show Mayo growing as a group. Players improved and grew but the big title still eluded them.
A new voice could go one of two ways. Mayo could go back as somebody struggles to outdo the good work carried out by Horan. On the other hand, somebody may be able to come in and freshen things up that little bit to push Mayo over the line. Kevin McStay put his name forward on The Sunday Game last week and it will be an attractive job for managers.
Overall James Horan should be regarded as a success as Mayo looked like a mentally tougher team then they have in the past. The fact that they still haven’t won an All-Ireland may lead to people dismissing that opinion, but forward steps were taken under Horan and the new manager will have a big challenge to try and do a better job.
Write Off Kerry At Your Peril
No matter what anybody says about them, Kerry will always be Kerry. At times this season people wondered how good Kerry footballers were. People said that they had little or no chance following the cruciate knee ligament injury to Colm Cooper, but here they are in an All-Ireland final. Surely now, people will have learned not to write off Kerry.
There is something about Kerry footballers. A player with no underage pedigree or success seems to automatically become a very good player when he steps onto a football field as part of the Kerry senior team. The likes of Paul Murphy and Fionn Fitzgerald have fitted in effortlessly while Michael and Paul Geaney have done likewise.
On paper it has not the best Kerry side and they have also struggled with injury, but they still managed to be a better team than Mayo. Mayo were fancied for the replay as it appeared that Kerry had missed a chance but they were better than mayo over ninety minutes in the replay and will hold no fear of Donegal in the final.
Kilkenny and Tipperary take centre stage on Sunday and Eamon O’Shea has named an unchanged side for the All-Ireland final. Michael Cahill is named amongst the substitutes with many people tipping him to start the game, but at the moment he remains a substitute.
Tipperary – Darren Gleeson; Cathal Barrett, Padraic Maher, Paddy Stapleton; Brendan Maher, James Barry, Kieran Bergin; Shane McGrath, James Woodlock; Gearóid Ryan, Patrick Maher, John O’Dwyer; Noel McGrath, Seamus Callanan, Lar Corbett.
Kilkenny manager Brian Cody will name his team on Friday night. The early signs are that Henry Shefflin will be held in reserve, although there is no doubt that Cody will play his cards close to his chest. It is thought that Richie Power will start ahead of Mark Kelly in the only change from their semi-final victory over Limerick.
Sean Cremin, Pundit Arena