Today is a big day at Croke Park – or maybe not. The proximity of the championship changed the dynamic of the Allianz League finals. For today’s contestants, eyes are already on the championship, but there must certainly be a boost in confidence for the winners, even if held back a little.
can’t help but think these games are being played in the wrong place. Of course every player likes to play at Croke Park but there will be little atmosphere if the upper decks are empty and most spectators at the first game between Galway and Roscommon will not wait for the second game. The Kerry Mayo final ends at around 6 p.m. After that it’s a long way home with work tomorrow morning. Celebrations are reduced to a minimum.
I suspect Mayo will have several thousand supporters as always, Roscommon will have the next largest support, Galway will bring hundreds instead of thousands, while Kerry will have around 46 supporters, 25 of whom live in Dublin. The full complement will come back later in the year when the stakes are higher.
The sensible solution would be to have thrown at home for both finals. With Castlebar shut down, a 5pm final in Killarney last night would have been a fitting opportunity had Kerry traveled to Castlebar for the next inter-county final which is unlikely to be too far away.
Mayo supporters and players would prefer a Saturday night game in the kingdom. It would certainly be good for business, especially for pubs, restaurants and hotels. Otherwise, there shouldn’t be a final at all. Whoever is at the top of the division should get the trophy. I know the other divisions would love to have a final and a Galway v Roscommon game at Hyde Park or Pearse Stadium would also draw more viewers than moving the whole show to Dublin.
Last week I highlighted the integrity of the league as Division 4 ended on different days and times. This meant Sunday’s Sligo-Leitrim game was nothing more than a challenge match, with final places being decided on Saturday. That wasn’t right or appropriate. It is surprising that their own county boards did not perform a war dance in protest. Some of these counties don’t seem to realize that the GAA is like an animal farm, where everyone is equal but some are more equal than others.
I am also surprised that there was no comment on Galway giving the players a rest for their game against Roscommon as they were already promoted and there was nothing to be gained with some of their key men bursting at the stomach. That’s fine but Derry needed Galway to win to ensure that if they beat Meath they would be promoted to the top flight too. If Galway had played Roscommon in an earlier round they would have had a very different team, a much stronger one. Derry has been substituted twice in the campaign, especially as a refereeing error that saw Shane McGuigan sent off prevented them from having their freeman free at the last minute to beat Roscommon. Just in case anyone ever thought life was fair.
It will also be interesting to see the number of suspensions fully in place following the aftermath of last Sunday’s Donegal and Armagh. The CCC have had to back up their previous actions with a consistent approach, leaving a select few missing out on the first round of the championship between the same sides. Those same players will be lucky if the exposed number stops at five as the images show significantly more than what is involved. Those suspended can’t complain, especially Armagh after being the best in terms of numbers in the Tyrone game with dismissals.
The message came out loud and clear. If you’re involved in the dragging, dragging, or other form of mangling, you’ll pay the price. I don’t care who started what, but I felt Armagh was a bit too macho in the earlier league game against Kerry. They are the most entertaining team to watch and don’t have to try to prove any kind of manhood. That’s what their football does.
Munster Council has given Cork a reason to rally, create a little hype and get supporters to show that the football team they don’t support has status in every way worth fighting for .
All the fuss about not having Páirc Uí Chaoimh available for a concert is embarrassing, but Páirc Uí Rinn is good ground and the league game against Kerry should be played there.
This has the makings of a stalemate and Cork are right on their side. I’d be inclined to go to the protest march, but I’d be afraid of getting a slap on the ear from a player or supporter after causing them so much distress lately.
Back to Croke Park today and the Division 1 final between Kerry and Mayo which I think will start out nice and soft but when it gets close with ten minutes to go it will bring out the best and the worst in everyone. Mayo needs it more than Kerry, although Jack O’Connor has made it a habit to win the league before doing the same in All-Ireland. Winning at Croke Park is good habit and Kerry’s record at some big games there over the last five years isn’t too healthy.
Like many games at this level, it’s decided by a bit of class upfront. The Cliffords, peán O’Shea, Tony Brosnan plus some other accomplices or Ryan O’Donoghue, Diarmuid O’Connor, Jason Doherty, Jack Carney and a changing cast. Who would you bet on there? It seems that Kerry is a lot stronger up front, especially with a dry ball and good ground, even if Kerry occasionally rains.
This match might take a while to warm up, but it might turn out to be a challenge match of sorts where everything gets a bit more competitive over time. It is the nature of the animal. Drop knights and start a young lad game and everything will be fine until someone says “next goal wins”. Then the friendliness is gone and everything goes. Mayo has his eyes on Galway in the Championship and to beat Kerry you need to be fully focused on the task at hand. It looks like Kerry has more shots on target and no immediate distractions.
The same problems arise for Galway. Unlike last weekend, they’ll probably line up their whole team for this one. Their dilemma is whether to show Mayo their full hand ahead of the biggest game of the year in a couple of weeks. There was a time when teams played at their best and basically ignored the opponent. Now they’re much more circumspect, worrying with beady eyes from across the border watching their every turn.
The best team with the best players almost always wins. So Galway shouldn’t be put off at all and ignore the upcoming championship completely and go full steam ahead to win at Croke Park – a venue that hasn’t suited them for a long time. That means a team that includes Paul Conroy, Shane Walsh and Damien Comer, making them a formidable unit.
Roscommon are impressive in bearing and dedication. They had seven different goalscorers last week and have had decent results. The Murtaghs, Smiths, Cathal Heneghan and Conor Cox will be difficult to handle and as that’s all Roscommon has on their mind at the moment.
Barring one major slip, they’ll be in the Connacht finals, offering an opportunity to hay early.
https://www.independent.ie/sport/gaelic-games/gaelic-football/summer-hopes-likely-weigh-down-on-league-finals-41515350.html Summer hopes likely weigh on the league finals