Football was the dominant sport on show with two (forgettable) provincial finals taking place in Leinster and Ulster, along with a couple of entertaining qualifiers. There was also the small matter of Wexford and Waterford clashing in the hurling qualifiers. Here, John Ivory ranks the top players from the weekend’s games.
5. Honourable Mentions
The Clare football team put in an outstanding display against Kildare and were very unfortunate to come up short. They are living proof that Munster doesn’t need a seeding system in football. Also, Kevin Moran, Pauric Mahoney and Colin Dunford turned in sterling performances for Waterford as they bravely bowed out to Wexford.
4. Odhran MacNiallais/ Paddy McBrearty – Donegal
These men make this list simply because they were a beacon of hope for positive football in Ulster. When blanket defences encountered one man attacks, scores from play were rare. Deployed around the middle by Jim McGuinness, they both got on the ball and used their head when they had it.
They rarely wasted ball, and when the shot was on, thankfully, they took it on. This resulted in them knocking over 0-3 from play each.
3. Ciaran McKeever – Armagh
Armagh seem to have the transition from blanket defence to blanket attack figured out better than anyone. They were well able to cancel out Roscommon, and in Ciaran McKeever, they have a man in defence who can calmly spray the ball forward to set up attacks.
McKeever was solid in defence and a real leader in an Armagh team that features many young faces. Stephen Harold and Kyle Carragher were also standout performers as the Orchard men advanced.
2. Kevin McManamon – Dublin
Dublin were made to look extremely good against Meath, and truth be told, they were extremely good, despite the poor opposition. McManamon stood out due to his trademark running tearing the Royal defence apart.
He has made himself a regular starter, shaking the shackles of ‘’impact sub tag’’. His tally of 1-5 from play was exquisite to watch and defences will need to focus on counteracting his penetrating runs in order to slow down McManamon and the Dubs.
1. Lee Chin – Wexford Hurlers
While forwards like Guiney, MacDonald, and Morris might grab the scores, and the headlines, none of what they do would be possible without the graft of midfield maestro, Lee Chin.
Chin has emerged as a top midfielder by winning hard ball around midfield, plucking ball from the skies. He showed great composure in his use of the ball setting up better positioned teammates instead of driving in aimless ball, and he is proving to be instrumental in the Model County’s run this summer.
John Ivory, Pundit Arena.