THE Super 8s and the Open Golf championship provided the Sunday afternoon entertainment.
After the not so entertaining clash between Mayo and Meath, there was some pressure on the Kerry and Donegal encounter to deliver. Despite Shane Lowry’s efforts at Portrush, the remote control was given a real run for its money.
Full credit to the Gaelic football practitioners of both counties for producing such an epic contest. I doubt we’ll see a more viewer-friendly game again in 2019. We are constantly being reminded to enjoy the moment and let the future look after itself, but the apparent foregone conclusion factor does take a tad from the Super 8s. A bit like viewing a really interesting movie, only for somebody to walk in and provide you with all the details about the ending.
Dublin’s ‘drive for five’ is still on track. As Shane Lowry was on his lap of honour, his name was being engraved on the Claret Jug. Is it possible in the GAA engraving house, Baile Átha Cliath is already being neatly scripted on to Sam Maguire’s cup?
Prior to any analysis, can I mention the four players from Templenoe GAA club in the Kerry line-up: Tadhg Morley, Gavin Crowley and the two Spillane brothers, Adrian and Killian. A similar case may be made in relation to the Cork team, with four of the starting 15 from Clonakilty — Thomas Clancy, Liam O’Donovan and the White brothers, Mark and Seán.
I just wonder does such a representation lead to better on-field communications?
We should also keep in mind that up to 2019, Templenoe were an intermediate team, and when they play in the Kerry senior championship in 2020 they will probably struggle. Likewise, the west Cork club is not on everybody’s betting docket when it comes to making money from predicting who will win this year’s Andy Scannell. Think about that and come back to me when you have decided, as to the merits or otherwise, of such representation on county teams.
Back to the Kerry-Donegal game and there were many stars but aren’t we privileged to live in the Michael Murphy era? His demeanour is a throwback to another age and he gives real meaning to on-field leadership. Watching him at times, with the tongue hanging out, you could quite easily get the impression, that an oxygen mask might come in handy.
To captain one’s county for a season is an honour in itself, to do it for eight consecutive years is an awesome achievement. Yes, Stephen Cluxton is almost on a captaincy permanent contract, with the Dubs and while there is no doubting his massive contribution, it just doesn’t fit into the same box as Michael Murphy.
I thought last Sunday was probably his greatest display. Defending, winning kick-outs, scoring points from play and frees, nailing a few Kerry men and then scoring a penalty, against the backdrop of the match stewards marching behind the goals. A mighty man, make sure you appreciate him, when he is at his peak.
An aspect of the Super 8s that raised its head at the weekend centred around the neutral venue games at Croke Park. It appears now, that this aspect is not working out and for 2020, the final year of this project, this round may be played at provincial venues. Of course, other than creating a better atmosphere, the other plus side of this scenario is that it gets the Dubs out of Croke Park for two of the three games.
I did notice during the provincial hurling round robin, there was talk an accommodation should be made to allow a further number of the premium grade counties to progress to the All-Ireland series. I heard calls to provide longer breaks between games, in this Super 8 experiment.
All very well you might say, but none of them have come up with a plan to increase the number of weeks. The inter-county season is already taking up too much of the GAA calendar.
Last week, I mentioned I wanted a certain closure on moral victories and hence the need to hold Tyrone accountable. I suppose Mickey Harte’s charges were held accountable, but in the cold analytical light, it was another of those moral victories! Having said that, it was also another performance to indicate Cork are moving in the right direction.
Each county is entitled to do what they must do to win, but I must confess I don’t enjoy the blanket defence. Donegal employed similar tactics but now thankfully their style of play is far more expansive. There were occasions in the first half of the Cork-Tyrone game when the thought crossed my mind that I would prefer Dublin to win the big prize than Tyrone. That’s probably a sin.
I am not, for one moment, stating that the delay in restarting the second half was the reason why Cork lost but I don’t think it helped. I think it is a matter which needs to be addressed in future.
What about a scenario where for every two minutes late out a point is deducted from the team’s half time score? It might just improve the timekeeping!
Last week, there was a lot of discussion as to Cork’s early second-half collapse against Kilkenny, in a space of 20 minutes or so, Brian Cody’s charges outscored them 1-8 to 0-1. On Saturday, the damage was done in a shorter period. By the 10th second-half minute, Tyrone had outscored Cork 2-2 to 0-1.
The question one could ask relates as to how that should happen? Did Tyrone catch the Rebels off guard?
Not sure, what to expect from the dead rubber, as it is being referred to on Sunday week, against Roscommon. I just find it hard to understand how two teams can come up to championship speed for this one.
Remember last year, the Rossies lost all their games by an average score of 16 points, so I presume they will come south looking for the win.
There are two really important games for Cork football this weekend, and thankfully for supporters, both will take place at O’Connor Park, Tullamore, the U20s against Tyrone and then the minors against Monaghan. Wouldn’t two victories add greatly to the change in big ball fortunes, in the county? Best of luck to all concerned.
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