Tony Mac Talks GAA

Mayo have impressed this season it could be their day on Sunday

This Sunday coming we will see the much-anticipated All-Ireland semi-final between Mayo and Dublin.

This is a fascinating match in prospect and it is very difficult to pick out a winner. Dublin have been playing in second gear for the majority of this year’s championship and I’m sure Jim Gavin has been holding back with this contest in mind.

Mayo will have no fear of the Dubs and their recent record against them in the championship is good. Mayo have been very impressive in this year’s championship so far and against Donegal they showed that tactically they are prepared to expand their options. The redeployment of Barry Moran worked a treat against Donegal but it might not work as well against the Dubs.

The big issue is how will Dublin cope with the powerful Aidan O’Shea. Make no mistake Jim Gavin and his huge backroom team will have worked on a strategy to reduce the effectiveness of the big Breaffy man.

Gavin was naive in last year’s semi-final and I doubt he will be caught out again. How both sides deal with the respective kick-outs will also have a huge bearing on the result.

Stephen Cluxton is the best in the business but I expect that Mayo will severely test him on Sunday. There are match-winners littered all over the field and it will also depend on how the game is refereed by Joe McQuillan.

Taking everything into consideration it is still very hard to call. Dublin will bring a huge intensity to the contest but Mayo look to be in the zone this year and I expect and hope they will prevail in a tight struggle.

Fitzmaurice turning into a master tactician

Last Sunday we saw a very entertaining All-Ireland semi-final between Tyrone and Kerry. It was a game in which Kerry’s credentials were severely tested but they showed that they are a really good side and it will take a great team to take their All-Ireland title away from them.

Tyrone will feel aggrieved with some of Maurice Deegan’s calls but maybe their reputation has cost them in the end. But in truth they were just short of what is required to win an All-Ireland this year.

This was well illustrated when the Tyrone corner-forward Conor McAlliskey failed to give a pass to Darren McCurry, which would have led to a certain goal. I doubt if that would have happened at the other end of the field.

Referee Maurice Deegan had a poor game in poor conditions. I felt he got a lot of the big calls wrong.

Ronan McNabb should have seen red for a stupid challenge on Gooch Cooper and Shane Enright should definitely have got a black card for hauling down Peter Harte.

I see nowadays that a lot of referees are taking liberties with the ball when they bring it forward for dissent.

The rules are clear, it should be 13 metres and it should be no more than that. This alone cost Tyrone two points on Sunday.

This was a real manly contest and both teams were well prepared by their respective managers. It is obvious that both managers are more concerned with their teams than with their personal egos.

Eamon Fitzmaurice is turning into a master tactician and his substitution of Kieran Donaghy with Paul Geaney was the changing of the game.

In fact I thought that Paul Geaney should have been given the man of the match award as he had the most influence on the outcome of the game.

When Tyrone scored the penalty Kerry responded with four class scores to win their way through to another All-Ireland final. Any team that beats them will be worthy winners.

Local club scene

Next weekend sees the concluding stages of the local senior football championship. Group A looks like it is decided unless St Faithleach’s score an unlikely win against St Brigid’s.

Roscommon Gaels and St Brigid’s are in the semi-finals with Padraig Pearses and Clann na nGael are most likely to join them in the quarter-finals from that group.

The second group looks more interesting with Castlerea likely to advance to the quarter-finals with a win against Kilmore.

But Boyle and Strokestown look to be battling it out for the other place. This looks the game of the weekend.

There are a few other permutations so it will be all to play for.