Cavan’s bolt doesn’t strike twice
The GAA’s planning department appears to be asleep at the wheel. There were nine football championship games last weekend and only three this weekend. Who should monitor this?
felt that when the provincial councils were drafting the game plans there would be a guiding hand at central level to ensure that there was a little unusual common sense and balance. But that must not be, because it is a shambles.
This affects the crowds, the public and at an even more important level the idea of basic fair play. Many may not have noticed, but after beating Offaly in the first round of the Leinster Championship, Wexford was forced to play Dublin six days later. The fact that the game was six or 16 days later would not have affected the outcome, but Wexford were treated with utter disrespect by such a brief turnaround. You wouldn’t expect that from the big teams.
Similarly, a week after beating Laois, Wicklow had to travel to Navan to play Meath, which again isn’t fair to the players or management. Louth was in the same position and had to face Kildare after their first round win over Carlow.
If some of the larger counties had gotten that game plan a few months ago, they would have told the provincial council to give it a try. But in the case of Wicklow, Louth and Wexford, they were probably reluctant to say anything if those in power could tell them not to be pretentious about winning their first-round match.
All three first-round winners lost their matches a week later. That alone proves nothing, but no team can properly prepare for such a big game in such a short amount of time.
In the league, everyone has the same gap between games. In these cases, the three Leinster winners met fresh and well-prepared opponents. Why couldn’t the first round matches have taken place a week earlier to allow two weeks of preparation for the quarterfinals? It makes for poor planning and seems to imply two things at face value: that first-round games don’t matter, and that those smaller counties should be lucky enough to compete in the Tailteann Cup. Roscommon easily beat Sligo last Sunday and have another three weeks to prepare for the Connacht final.
Then there is the public aspect. Every county and every player enjoys watching extended highlights of their game on TV. With nine football games last weekend and skidding, there was no time The Sunday game to show more than a few results from some games. I see that personally when an hour and a half show is trying to pack in more than a dozen games.
The districts blame RTÉ. Instead, they should ask the people making the devices a few questions. The GAA should sponsor a Monday night slot to show some of the action that cannot be incorporated on Sunday night. It is a basic game promotion. And things will only get a whole lot worse when the Tailteann Cup gets underway, while next year the crap is really going to hit the fan as more and more games are laced into a tighter window.
There’s a really big game today that will get a lot of airtime – Cavan v Donegal – a repeat of the 2020 Ulster final. It was played on a cold November day and Cavan caused a huge shock. There were no fans in attendance but the Cavan roar at the finish carried all the way to Armagh. There was no cheerful homecoming either, but the fans were allowed to drive past the trophy in Breffni Park that evening, a bit like driving past the Pope and wave to him.
If winning back then came as a surprise to Cavan, it would be even more so now. Cavan rose from the bottom division and beat Tipperary in the final, but so far in the league only two games have a team beat a team from a higher division, Galway beat Mayo and Derry hammered Tyrone.
Closing the gap between Division 4 and Division 1 seems like a big challenge. Still, Cavan is a little better than his league position would suggest and I expect they’ll be back in League Two next year where they should fit in comfortably.
Donegal announced a letter of intent against Armagh. It wasn’t unexpected and Armagh only reinforced Donegal’s motivation with the carry-on over hangers. When you commit the crime, you pass the time. Armagh would have been better off not appealing, they ended up with the worst of all worlds.
Watching Donegal in recent years has been absolutely frustrating and although I was heavily betting they should beat Armagh I was still very impressed with the performance. The big three were great – Michael Murphy, Ryan McHugh and Paddy McBrearty – but so were others like Jason McGee, Peadar Mogan, Michael Langan, Shane O’Donnell and Brendan McCole. In this match, McCole will likely cover new Cavan Whiz kid Paddy Lynch, who will feel the hot breath of a closer marker than in previous matches. The same goes for Gearóid McKiernan, who Cavan relies on for many points.
Indeed, this match is all about a score Donegal must settle after Cavan tore them apart with some old-fashioned football, tough tackle and sheer bravery from the likes of Thomas Galligan in this Ulster final. Lightning is unlikely to strike twice.
In the only other game today, another team from the Fourth Division meets a side from Galway who have been promoted to Division 1 and have already defeated Mayo. Despite that win I wasn’t impressed at all with Galway and there is certainly an overconfidence in their big three – Paul Conroy, Damien Comer and Shane Walsh.
One of the most entertaining games in the Championship to date took place between Leitrim and London at McGovern Park in Ruislip a few weeks ago. Leitrim won a four-man thing and scored with the last shot, but it showed that playing teams of the same level against each other at the right time of year is good for players and spectators alike. We’ll leave the skeleton in the closet for now.
Leitrim will have Keith Beirne back after serving a one-game suspension. After 2-44 goals in the league, he is a great asset. But no window dressing can conceal the great gap in the class here. Leitrim was beaten by Mayo at this point last year, but the lead won’t be as great today. Hopefully Leitrim can score four goals in the first ten minutes and make a game out of it, but an easy Galway win is in the offing.
https://www.independent.ie/sport/gaelic-games/gaelic-football/cavans-lightning-wont-strike-twice-41626483.html Cavan’s bolt doesn’t strike twice