DUBLIN are still the standout team on completion of round two of the Super 8s.
Like any top sports team they can do the basics well but they are also looking to develop their skill set individually and collectively each year, The performance of Con O’Callaghan last week versus Roscommon is a typical example. O’Callaghan strengths were his ability to win possession in front and take on his man directly or when he uses his football brain to evade opponents and win possession in behind the defender.
Now O’Callaghan is showing his aerial prowess winning possession overhead when making direct runs from full forward. In addition O’Callaghan seems to have added bulk this year, which is making him harder again to stop. It’s this variety in attacking options, which keeps a defender guessing and sometimes can afford extra space for the attacker.
Dublin still appear to have sufficient strength in depth to ensure very high competition in the panel. This will naturally raise standards at training and increase the chances of savage work-rate come match day. Also, it naturally enforces high standards and commitments for the twenty-two hours of the day that the player is away from training.
Players will be demanding from Bryan Cullen and Jim Gavin’s coaching team areas where they can improve on. It won’t be just the free-taker will do little extra’s on his own.
You only have to look at the impact of Dean Rock off the bench against Meath and Cork. That didn’t happen by chance. The competition within the panel plus individual ambition made that performance happen.
The top game last weekend was obviously the Kerry v Donegal game. Some great shooting on display but then many shots were attempted from the right areas. Excellent link-up play on both sides leading to clever movement of the ball with Michael Murphy leading the way.
There was many other good performances with Stephen O’Brien and Paul Geaney playing very well for Kerry. It was the overall impact of Murphy that stood out.
Converting the frees, delivering excellent ball into McBrearty, ability to create space while also scoring from play. A player thinking that bit faster than other players and then having the skill set to match.
Stephen Cluxton has raised the standard in the goalkeeping department but it was great to get another look at Donegal’s Sean Patton in action. He is great at drilling the ball long but he is just as good at the short and medium options. Patton is like a golfer at times the way he can vary his kick-out depending on the target and space available.
The difficulty challenging the Dublin and Donegal kick-outs is that it's not the same pattern with the same player repeated over and over again. Kick-outs are dictated depending on how the previous play has finished.
Players making decisions based on what options are around them. Some players making hard runs either creating space or being the best option for the goalkeeper. This takes great discipline and hard work.
Looking ahead to this weekend, it will be interesting to see can the Cork U20 footballers build on their impressive Munster Championship win versus Kerry.
It’s at the All-Ireland semi-final stage where the Munster Champions have been defeated many times over the last number of years. The exception obviously being Cork's loss to Mayo up in Ennis in 2016.
Winning a provincial title is a huge honour particularly when defeating your big rivals in the process. It can be the first main goal reached in the season and first title for many in a Cork jersey so a great level of satisfaction. There is a quick turnaround though to the semi-final so the challenge is getting the same level of focus and edge for the Tyrone game.
Cork played some impressive football, moving the ball fast, kicking some great scores while making things very uncomfortable for the Kerry attackers with aggressive and positive defending at the other end. Here was a highly motivated team with the belief they could defeat Kerry.
Many areas of Cork’s performance went well in Páirc Uí Rinn that the key this week is to nearly expect things to be more difficult versus Tyrone. How will Cork respond to missing a few easy scores in succession, a poor start or losing a few kick-outs in a row which Tyrone take advantage of?
If players and management alike are not prepared for this, pressure can build and subsequent underperformance leading to the wrong result.
The Cork minors will be delighted with the chance to still challenge for All-Ireland honours. Similar to the Munster final they will be underdogs this week again versus Monaghan. Many aspects of their performance was good against Kerry, it’s just similar to the seniors last Saturday, they were heavily punished after some turnovers.
The Munster final performance was still a big improvement on the round-robin fixture versus Kerry in May where they were well beaten. Show improvement again from the Munster final and they will be hard to stop.
The fixing of Cork minor and U20 games for the same day in Tullamore is a big positive and should ensure a greater level of support for both teams. Cork seniors may not have qualified for the Super 8s but football is on an upward curve at present, which should ensure extra supporters making the trip to Offaly.
Contact: @paudiekissane or firstname.lastname@example.org