The scenes in Galway yesterday afternoon, as the fans laced the sideline in anticipation of clouding the field in blue and yellow in celebration of returning to the summit of Connacht football, were phenomenal to see and a throwback to years gone by where pitch invasions were a regular occurrence after inter-county finals. Don’t tell these fans that provincial football is a dying phase, that we should do away with geographical boundaries in favours of tiers and leagues and teams facing other teams at their own, carefully constructed level. Don’t tell the Roscommon players that Connacht titles are a mere afterthought, after beating Mayo and beating Galway on their way to glory. This is what it’s all about.
These are the days everybody will remember, young supporters and old, for years to come. There’s a lot wrong in football right now, but yesterday showed there’s a hell of a lot right, too. Well done Roscommon – enjoy victory.
Roscommon’s most famous Kerryman. The dynamic forward scored five points on the way to a man of the match performance and one name on the end of season’s team of the year pages. Kerry’s loss if the Rossie’s gain – he’s the sort of clutch, hard working forward that a lot of counties could do with right now.
As much as we lament Galway’s premature departure from the championship, enough praise can’t be heaped upon Dublin. 3-19 is terrific scoring, with all six starting forwards raising the white flag and two of their half-back line finding the net. Mattie Kenny has raised Dublin to new levels, getting the best out of a talented defense and engineering a major improvement in their attacking ranks, with the likes of Oisin O’Rorke and Eamonn Dillon flourishing. They await the winner of the Joe McDonagh Cup, one of Laois or Westmeath, in an All-Ireland quarter-final, with every hope of getting into the final four conversation.
36-years-old, a former football All-Ireland medal winner, Keaney’s inter-county career appeared to be well in the rear-view window until Pat Gilroy gave him a call early in 2018 to see if he’d add a huge wealth of experience to his ranks. Over a year and a new manager later, and Keaney is proving to everyone that is age is but a number with a monumental display against Galway, notching three scores and setting up a few more with an all-action display from half forward. A clever idea from Gilroy may prove to be Kenny’s biggest asset going into the All-Ireland series.
Navigating the Leinster championship unbeaten, with draws against Galway, Dublin and Kilkenny, is no mean feat, although perhaps highlights the lack of a killer threat when the game is in the melting pot late on in games. Davy Fitzgerald won’t mind that now, though, as they await Kilkenny once again in Croke Park in a few weeks time with every confidence of going one further this time on the scoresheet. The talent is undoubtedly there.
A five-point win that was too little, too late for the Banner, but at least signs their year off on a slightly more positive note after two awful performances against Tipperary and Limerick all but put an end to their summer. Tony Kelly was excellent and reminded everyone how good he was, but question marks will linger over why he and others were so anonymous when it mattered most. A change in manager is likely, who Clare hire to try and harness one more hurrah out of this talented but incredibly frustrating team will be massive.
Take nothing away from this Kerry hurling team, who didn’t let the occasion get to them and overcame Offaly by two points in relatively comfortable fashion down in Austin Stack Park. Offaly weren’t meant to be the side to go down, but Kerry were meant to be the side to stay up as a county on the upward curve after decades in the wilderness. Also, kudos to RTÉ for finally showing some Joe McDonagh action – it was about time the country was introduced to Shane Conway.
The footballers. A limp and error strewn second half let Roscommon in the back door having been five points down, who duly turned over the furniture and left with the goods. The major reaction to this performance was how difficult Galway are to watch right now, despite their talent which doesn’t seem to hugely lacking. You reap what you sow, and Roscommon were fully deserving of their victory. Galway are another county likely to await a managerial change to take the team down a fresh track.
Nobody would have put money on Galway crashing out of the championship on Saturday night, and anyone who says they did are lying. The odds were stacked hugely in their favour, and firmly in their hands. Beat Dublin, or failing that, hope there’s a winner between Wexford and Kilkenny. There wasn’t a winner in Wexford Park, and Galway didn’t beat Dublin, and now the consecutive All-Ireland finalists are looking into a long summer on the sidelines.
Relegation into the Christy Ring Cup was unthinkable at the start of the year, but four losses later and that’s where they find themselves. Sure, it’s a sad day for hurling to see one of the hurling strongholds for many decades collapsing before our eyes, an All-Ireland winner in our lifetimes, but they simply didn’t deserve any better. How they go from here, though, is the question that faces those in leadership in the county. They’ve failed for many years now, how can they finally start getting it right? A full refresh is needed, an outside mind in the dugout, and an extremely temporary stay in the third tier of hurling.
An unbeaten Munster campaign, culminating in victory over Limerick. But that came at a huge cost. Losing Patrick Maher to a season ending injury is a huge blow, and possibly losing Cathal Barrett to a hamstring strain is just catastrophic. We don’t know the full details just yet, it seems as though Barrett will be back at some stage, but it puts a real dampener on Tipperary’s preparations before the finale.
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