Gavin Quinn discusses the good, the bad and the ugly of this weekend’s All Ireland Quarter Final action.
The weekend’s All Ireland Quarter Finals saw Donegal narrowly edge past Armagh while Dublin simply brushed Monaghan aside in Croke Park. Donegal will now face Dublin in the All Ireland Semi Final while Mayo meet Kerry in the opposite fixture.
Armagh can be proud of their performance but equally dissapointed after their narrow loss. They fought and battled Donegal’s brutal and relentless physicality and experience on the highest stage that most have represented The Orchard County.
Perhaps inexperience saw them fumble a one-point lead with just minutes to go and also their failure to take two last gasp opportunities to level and even win the game. Donegal were made to look average in the midst of Armagh’s brave display.
But what about Dublin? They comprehensively put down a weak Monaghan challenge to the tune of seventeen points, eclipsing Armagh’s performance with perhaps their most impressive showing of the summer with Monaghan resembling a startled deer in the Dublin headlights.
Jim Gavin’s Dublin epitomize all that is good about Gaelic Football. Intensity, pace, attack and discipline are all key components of the Dublin machine that has dispatched everything in their path with ease this summer. They are improving with every game and each performance eclipses the previous one.
Donegal were by no means imposing against Armagh, a number of frankly poor wides signalled just how much of a shadow this current team are compared to their 2012 All Ireland winning team. Marquee players such as Colm McFadden, Christy Toye and Rory Kavanagh are all past their best years and simply cannot perform at the high level required in the later stages of the Championship.
Donegal weren’t brilliant but Monaghan were simply woeful. The narrowly beaten Ulster finalists’ gameplan was going according to plan, frustrating Dublin in all their might to no points from play and a mere three points in the opening twenty five minutes. Disaster then struck.
As if they were calculating the dimensions of Monaghan’s blanket defence before they pounced, Dublin awoke. Diarmuid Connolly found himself behind the Monaghan defence and comfortably finished into the right corner before moments later Bernard Brogan reenacted the goal minutes previous with the same result. A tight game was transformed into a one-sided affair in an unbelievably short amount of time.
From Bernard Brogan’s goal it was evident that Monaghan were ready to throw in the towel, the belief was gone. Their lack of an alternative approach or a ‘plan B’ was perhaps the most dissapointing aspect of their dismal display, they could not continue their defensive approach if they were going to win the game.
And The Ugly
The ugly side of Gaelic Football was on show in Croke Park yesterday in its usual cynical and defensive form which amplified the effects of the depressing weather throughout both games. Donegal and Armagh gave a prime example of how to bore 72,000 people, while Dublin showed us how to exterminate it.
In a battle blemished with blatent cynicism and total defence, Donegal emerged triumphant to ecstatic cheers from their fans which is intriguing. What interests me is how the manner in which they won can be applauded. Victory by means of cynicism, conceding frees to evade a late Armagh salvage.
Jim McGuinness’ radical defensive philosophy demonstrates all the negative aspects of what is wrong with Gaelic Football, their complete defensive style does not transfer kindly to the eye with low scoring games, men behind the ball and short hand passing build up play all traits of their play. Don’t get me wrong however, Armagh, Monaghan and other Ulster counties play with a similar style.
Dublin, who play a completely opposite style of football demonstated how to expose their flaws with relative ease and even with a very low efficiency. Dublin at times lacking a clinical edge comfortably beat the ‘blanket defence’ and showed that their attacking philosophy is the way forward.
Gavin Quinn, Pundit Arena.
Donegal 1-12 – 1-11 Armagh
Dublin 2-22 – 0-11 Monaghan