Week seven of the 2014 Championship was as action-packed and dramatic as its six predecessors. It was a big weekend in both codes in Leinster with Dublin and Meath advancing to the football decider while Kilkenny booked their place in the Hurling Final. Meanwhile, Armagh and Monaghan drew, and there were also plenty of qualifiers to keep us entertained and here, John Ivory ranks the Top Five performances.
5. Jamie Clarke/Stefan Campbell – Armagh
Armagh clinched a draw in their Ulster semi-final against Monaghan and without the performance of Clarke and Campbell, they wouldn’t have been in with a shout. Their lively displays earned them 0-3 each, all from play.
Campbell was always first to the ball and Clarke roamed around creating opportunities. They were Armagh’s best forwards, and they will need another big performance from them in the replay if they want to upset the reigning champions Monaghan.
4. Cormac Costello – Dublin
Costello turned in a scintillating performance at GAA HQ on Sunday and he only had 35 minutes to do so. He came off the bench at half time and had notched up 1-5 by the time the final whistle was sounded. He finished his goal well after collecting an inch perfect pass from Macauley, who put in another workmanlike display.
Wexford were unable to keep up with the Dubs, and Costello’s clinical finishing saw them leave the Slaney-siders behind in the second period.
3. Paul Flynn – Dublin
Sunday’s Leinster Football semi-final against Wexford could have been a banana skin for Dublin, but with men like Flynn driving them on, they were never going to be caught out cold. He was first to every ball and used it wisely. He scored 1-2 from play and ensured his side’s safe passage to the decider.
Flynn is having another consistent year and Dublin will be relying on him to maintain his standard of performance when the opposition becomes tougher as the Championship heats up.
2. Padraig Walsh – Kilkenny
The young Tullaroan man has emerged as one of the finds of the Championship. He was a thorn in Galway’s side again on Saturday and converted three excellent points from midfield. He was the link between defence and attack and was always available to receive the ball.
Paul Murphy’s tenacity and T.J. Reid’s prolific scoring were also essential to the Cats’ victory, but Walsh’s industry and clever use of the ball meant he was a cut above the rest in Tullamore.
1. Damien Carroll – Meath
Listening to Marty Morrissey commenting on Meath’s clash with Kildare, you’d be forgiven for thinking he was on repeat, as he said Damien Carroll’s name so frequently. The wing back’s reading of the game meant he latched onto numerous loose balls and was able to set up attacks with sensible passes.
He set up Stephen Bray for many scores, and never tried to do too much with the ball, but chipped in with 0-2 himself to cap off an excellent day.
John Ivory, Pundit Arena.