It has been a quiet week on the hurling front as football has taken centre stage on the GAA circuit. Here are some of the week’s main talking points.
Armagh Appoint Kieran McGeeney
The departure of Paul Grimley came as a bit of a surprise following Armagh’s relatively successful season. Armagh footballers had been struggling for a while. Having won an All-Ireland in 2002, a lot of people would have said that they underachieved by failing to claim a second title in the 2000’s.
Things had been poor for the Orchard men from 2006 and this year seemed to spark a turnaround. They reached an All-Ireland quarter-final and lost to Donegal by the narrowest of margins. They made real forward strides but their manager left his position only a number of days later.
The rumours were then confirmed this week that former All-Ireland winning captain, Kieran McGeeney will take over the reins after being ratified for a five-year term. McGeeney has experience in Kildare where most people would say that he did a good job. He is now back at home and looks to have plenty to build on for the 2015 season.
It could be exciting times for Armagh supporters.
All Roads Lead to Limerick
There are now two All-Ireland football semi-finals now down for decider this weekend. The replay between Mayo and Kerry has received more publicity this week, mainly down to the location of the game. All roads lead to the Gaelic Grounds in Limerick in what could be a great occasion, despite all the justified criticism.
The 2013 Munster Senior Hurling Final between Limerick and Cork provided a great occasion with plenty of joyous scenes and if both teams can serve up something like the drawn game then all fans will be treated. A packed stadium should lead to a good spectacle while the location will also be new to both sets of players.
It is still not close to being the correct venue for an All-Ireland Football semi-final but the novelty of it all may add to the atmosphere.
Will Dublin Breach the Donegal Blanket?
The second football semi-final between Dublin and Donegal will be watched very closely for a number of reasons. Both sides met at the same stage in 2011 in what was possibily the worst game of all time at intercounty level. A pitiful fourteen scores were kicked between two teams over seventy minutes as both sides brought their bus passes to field.
Dublin won 0-08 to 0-06 as blanket defences brought the infamous ‘puke football’ to a whole new level. Both sides were heavily criticised after the game but both managed to go and secure All-Ireland titles since then, so that criticism definitely fell on deaf ears.
Dublin have since changed their style but Donegal are still playing defensively. The question this weekend is, how will Dublin perform against an ultra-defensive side? They have displayed some of the best attacking football ever seen but will probably come up against an impeccably parked bus in Croke Park on Sunday.
A lot of teams have tried the blanket defence, and no side has carried the system out more effectively than Donegal. It will very interesting to see how Dublin will cope, or it will equally interesting to see how Donegal play. Dublin will still probably have too much but the whole tactical element to this game will be fascinating.
Blame The Referee? Why Not Blame The Player?
David Coldrick came in for scrutiny following his decision to show Mayo’s Lee Keegan a straight red card just before half-time. Commentator Tommy Carr felt it was a soft decision in the ‘spirit of the game’, while many fans felt that there was not sufficient contact to warrant a red card.
Whether it was a red card or a yellow card is a slightly different debate here. The thing to point out is that all of the blame was directed at the referee while nobody actually looked at the actions of the player. Lee Keegan did acted recklessly and took the law into his own hands. A yellow card probably was sufficient enough for the crime, but he could not complain about the red card that he received.
The card has since being rescinded, making Keegan free to play in the replay. This opens up another argument on the appeals system and the ability to overrule referees. But the overall point is that it is too easy to blame the referee. Players have to take responsibility and if they act inappropriately, even in the smallest way, they must be ready for consequences.
Mayo and Kerry have both named unchanged sides for their replay at the Gaelic Grounds. It is no real surprise that the same teams have been named, such has been the short turnaround and it would not be a surprise if there are changes made before throw-in.
Mayo – Robert Hennelly; Tom Cunniffe, Ger Cafferkey, Keith Higgins; Lee Keegan, Colm Boyle, Donal Vaughan; Jason Gibbons, Seamus O’Shea; Kevin McLoughlin, Aidan O’Shea, Jason Doherty; Cillian O’Connor, Alan Freeman, Alan Dillon
Kerry – Brian Kelly; Marc Ó Sé, Aidan O’Mahony, Shane Enright ; Paul Murphy, Peter Crowley, Fionn Fitzgerald; Anthony Maher , David Moran, Michael Geaney, Johnny Buckley, Donnchadh Walsh; Stephen O’Brien, Paul Geaney, James O’Donoghue
Dublin and Donegal are yet to name their sides. The one bit of news is that Dublin centre-back Ger Brennan will not be fit to play. He has not featured yet for the Dubs this year. It was hoped that he may be fit for the business end of the season, but he has been ruled out of the Donegal game.
Sean Cremin, Pundit Arena