A hard fought battle against Leinster rivals Kildare keeps the Royals at the top of football’s Division 2 and in strong contention for promotion back up to the promised land. Three wins in a row against Armagh, Cork and now the Lilywhites has Meath rolling. With a win in their visit to Clare next week, Meath will sign off the round robin stage with fellow table-toppers Fermanagh in a possible prelude to the Division 2 final.
Derry & Leitrim
Promotion to Division 3 at a canter for both of these counties is great news, for a variety of reasons. It shows Derry have stopped their harsh downward spiral, lifting out of the doldrums for a bit of air and showing signs of a county with positive years in its future. And it shows that a county of Leitrim can perform to a high standard, entertain, get good results and capture the attention of the masses gazed at the higher end of the league table spectrum.
A special mention to Leitrim’s Terry Hyland, who in the last eight years has won two Ulster U-21 titles, an All-Ireland junior, and won promotions from Division 2, 3 and now 4 with Leitrim. Incredible stuff from one of the best managers in the game.
A good week for Laois, who lost narrowly to Dublin in absolutely brutal conditions, but thanks to their neighbours Offaly doing them a favour against Carlow, means they’ll welcome All-Ireland champions Limerick O’Moore Park next Saturday night.
In his third spell in the Kerry team, Tommy Walsh looks better than ever and appears to be justifying Peter Keane’s decision to bring him back into the ranks. With his power and presence in the full forward line, there’s no better man to come in and cause havoc and his work with the offensive mark – something he would have picked up anyway in the AFL – has been text book thus far. It’s a pity the rule isn’t sticking for the championship campaign.
It felt like deja vu as bad weather put stop to a handful of games on Sunday afternoon. Interestingly, it was only Division 1 hurling fixtures that got culled as torrential rain came down out of the heavens. Worst of all for travelling fans, they would have been well on the road by the time the worst of the rain bucketed down, and before the games were even considered to be postponed. So for Tipp fans heading to Cork, Kilkenny fans visiting Wexford and (worst of all) Galway fans making the cross-country voyage to Waterford, they would have had to make a swift u-turn and make their way home in sleet and snow.
Oh Mayo, our brief dalliance with you has come to a very sudden and meek stop. Saturday night’s game in MacHale Park was far from a classic and it was a downtrodden performance that makes you wonder if Mayo really are capable of returning to the top four this summer. After last season’s curtailed season, they appeared to be a side focused on a swift return to the top table under James Horan. On evidence of the past few performance, they have a bit of a hill to climb yet before being genuine All-Ireland contenders.
We never like singling out individual players in this side of the column, but David Fitzgerald’s antics on Sunday afternoon have attracted a lot of criticism and rightfully so. His play acting after fouling Aaron Gillane was disappointing to see and is a tactic that has started to creep into both codes in recent seasons. No doubt Fitzgerald will have been embarrassed looking back on that one, as one of the finest young half backs in the country he’s more than capable of rehabilitating his image as the season goes on.
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