Tony McManus Column – Mayo’s humiliation of Sligo also highlighted Roscommon failings

Last weekend was billed as being a huge one in the 2015 Gaelic Football championship but in truth it turned out to be a damp squib with very little real football being played and a lot of the games being dominated by negative tactics.

For TV viewers it made for very poor entertainment. The Connacht final was an embarrassment for Sligo football and indeed for Roscommon football too.

Most Roscommon followers I met afterwards were very down at just how far we have fallen behind the Mayos of this world.

But having been beaten by Sligo and Fermanagh is an indication of where we stand in the pecking order in Championship football. It is hard to believe that Roscommon was so tactically naive against Sligo.

Mayo knew that their midfielders were runners rather than fielders so they pushed up on their kick-outs, with the result that Sligo could not get out of their own half. Roscommon allowed Sligo possession from the kick-outs and then tried to defend it afterwards.

Mayo were very impressive but the match was over after ten minutes and they coasted to victory, with Aidan O’Shea looking particularly strong. He will be a huge player for Mayo this summer but he will never have it as easy again.

The O’Connor brothers and Tom Parsons looked impressive and they are moving Mayo further up the ladder and in sight of the Holy Grail. The quarter-final will tell us more, but they do look formidable.

Most people will say that Sligo were naive but the only alternative was to pack the defence and even then they still would have been well beaten. Westmeath tried that approach against Dublin and still lost comfortably.

At least Sligo tried to play football but after last Sunday they will probably join the blanket defence brigade. I must say that the first half of the Ulster Final was dire stuff. It amazes me that such big crowds are still going to these games.

The second half improved slightly but Donegal were to rue all the wides they shot when they were the dominant team. Monaghan have made great progress over the past few years and they thoroughly deserve their Ulster title. They have a real talisman in Conor McManus. They have plenty of other good players around the field, like Dessie Mone and their full-back Vinny Corey.

Donegal’s defeat means that one half of the draw is very strong and Kerry have an easier passage to the All-Ireland final.

As predicted Kerry improved from the drawn Munster final and fully deserved their win against Cork in appalling conditions. If they can get their defence in order they will be formidable as from number eight upwards they have a great pick of talented players.

Galway moved into the last 12 after a dogged win against Derry. For GAA purists watching Galway over the past two weekends would have been difficult. Even though they would have been my greatest rivals, I have to admit that when they got out of Connacht they always moved up a gear.

They had a swagger and style to them that was attractive but over the last two weekends they have no swagger and definitely no style. They might have won but I cannot see them going much further with those tactics.

If there was a doubt that rule changes were needed then last weekend quenched those doubts. Another down side to last weekend’s football was that poor refereeing decisions decided a lot of the games or were a major factor.

Pat McEneaney is a great man when he is out front on the day of an All-Ireland final but he is doing a poor job as the referees’ organiser. There are a lot of good referees not getting any game time. It’s time there was a change. As with players and managers, poor refereeing should lead to demotion.

This weekend

This weekend there are two low-key games in football while there are two big ties in hurling. I expect Fermanagh to scrape past Westmeath while Cork should be too good for Kildare. The Cork v Galway game looks the pick of the weekend action and it is a make or break game for both managers. I expect Galway to get back on track while Waterford should be too good for Dublin.