Plenty of criticism for Super 8s!
There has been much criticism of the Super 8s series since the weekend and certainly events in Omagh didn’t help. The fact that Tyrone did not name even one of their starting 15 against Dublin made that fixture a farce. Mickey Harte decided that he was happy enough to take his chances against Kerry in an All-Ireland semi-final, simple as that.
There must be a way of tweaking the competition so that what happened last weekend in Omagh (and Pairc Ui Rinn where there were only 2,400 people) does not happen again. National League games are far more important than the two games on Sunday and that should not be happening at the latter stages of the championship.
However, on Saturday night we had a real championship battle as Mayo deservedly overcame a very disappointing Donegal side in Castlebar. You have to hand it to Mayo, I was one who didn’t think they would win on Saturday night last but they got stuck in from the very first whistle and Donegal didn’t know what hit them.
I want to pick out two Mayo players for special mention: Paddy Durkan is a real Rolls Royce player. He was out injured for a while this year but when he is fully fit he is some asset to Mayo. He links the play brilliantly and there is never a big game that goes by that he doesn’t score two or three points from play. He reminds me of Tomas Ó Sé in his hey-day. I cannot give him any more praise than that. Andy Moran was phenomenal last Saturday again. He won every ball kicked in his direction and scored a couple of mighty points. What an inspirational player he is.
Playing against Dublin is a completely different ball game for Mayo but I never thought that they could get this far in the championship.
One aspect of this new condensed season is that fact that the four teams have only a week to prepare for an All-Ireland SFC semi-final which is desperately unfair. It’s like the GAA want to just get it out of the way as quickly as possible.
I also support those who are bitterly opposed to the GAA selling the broadcast rights to their games to Sky TV (or any other subscription channel). Last weekend the biggest championship game of the summer was played in Castlebar yet hundreds of thousands of people were not able to see it. The GAA is a community based amateur organisation. This must not be allowed to happen again. After RTÉ, give the rights to TV3 or TG4 where people can see the matches.
Rossies end 2019 campaign on a high
So the Super 8s have come to an end for another year. I couldn’t make it to Cork because of a family event, but I was able to see the game and although it was played in very poor conditions and in front of a paltry crowd, it was very enjoyable and the effort of both sides could not be questioned.
Roscommon started badly but they recovered and were always in the hunt. The last time the Rossies were in Pairc Ui Runn they scored four goals and they did it again on Sunday and I was very impressed with Brian Stack who, apart from the fact he scored two fine goals, played really well and it’s good to see him back to his best form. Enda Smith was also very effective and scored the best goal of the game. Shane Killoran had another great outing at midfield and Niall Daly was doing well until he got a very harsh black card.
It was certainly a far better game than “The Coma in Omagh” which I had on at the same time. I heard the Roscommon v Cork game described as the best in the Super 8s this year, and while I certainly wouldn’t go that far, it was a great way for Roscommon to end their year which overall has been a great success.
It’s down to a couple of frantic weeks of club action now and hopefully in 2020 promotion back to Division One, and another crack at the Connacht championship will be on the menu.
The English Premier League season begins again this coming weekend and nothing has happened over the summer to suggest that the power base will lie with any clubs other than Manchester City and Liverpool. There is been a lot of chat about Manchester United but I remain to be convinced.
Shane Lowry and Tiger Woods are back playing golf this week as the Fed-Ex Cup play-offs begin on the PGA Tour.
Meanwhile, it’s hard to believe it but the preparations for the forthcoming Rugby World Cup moves up several steps when Ireland take on Italy at the Aviva Stadium this weekend. There will be intense speculation as to what starting fifteen Joe Schmidt will go with to commence his preparations. Will Jack Carty get a chance?
Here in Roscommon, the final round of league games in football will be played this coming weekend. The semi-final pairings in the O’Rourke, O’Gara and Tansey Cups will be decided and it will be a final chance for club team managers to look at their teams ahead of the start of the championships the following weekend. It should be interesting!
Cork youngsters seriously impressive
Just a short note about the Cork U-20 footballers. I watched the All-Ireland final against Dublin on Saturday last (a candidate for game of the year?) and they came from nine points down to sweep past a fancied Dubs team to take the title in style. What impressed me about Cork was they have a number of very big, extremely skilful and pacy players. It was the third time I saw them playing on TV this summer and they are a seriously impressive outfit. If these lads are properly looked after then Cork football will be back on top very soon.
Mixed fortunes for Ladies footballers
It was a mixed weekend for Ladies Football in the county. In Ballinasloe on Saturday the minors started slowly and paid the price in the All-Ireland final against Longford although a soft penalty award against the Rossies was the deciding incident in the end.
However, the sadness didn’t last long as Michael Finneran’s Intermediate ladies team turned in a splendid high-scoring display against Kildare in the All-Ireland quarter-final on Sunday. Roscommon now face tournament favourites Tipperary in the semi-finals but this is a game that Roscommon can certainly win. Tipp were less than convincing in their two-point win against Clare last Sunday and Roscommon have an attack that can trouble any team left in this competition.
All-Ireland SFC Semi-Finals at Croke Park
Mayo v Dublin on Saturday at 5 pm
Mayo have defied the odds so many times in recent years it would be very foolish to write them off together. They certainly reserved their best championship performance of the year for last Saturday night’s showdown against Donegal. A lot of their top players are back from injury and they have an inner belief that is hard to compete against.
However, they are moving up several steps in class this weekend. Jim Gavin may have left a lot of his best players at home last weekend but he won’t be doing that on Saturday. Mayo followers will be delighted that I am going to tip against them again but I cannot see Mayo (or anyone else) coming near this Dublin team. The Dubs will pull away in the final quarter.
Tyrone v Kerry on Sunday at 3.30 pm
This is a very tight call. At various times this summer Kerry looked by far the most likely team to knock Dublin off their perch, but at other times they have looked a very ordinary side. They have a class attacking unit but doubts persist over their defence.
Tyrone may not be in Dublin’s class but they have the players and the system to stifle Kerry. There will not be any more than a couple of points in it but I fancy Tyrone to make it a repeat All-Ireland final pairing this year.