SIX TAKEAWAYS FROM THE COUNTY SFC SEMI-FINAL WEEKEND
Mixed views on the merits of a penalty shoot-out deciding the outcome of Gaelic games, with the obvious refrain being that it’s ‘too cruel” a way to end a game.
But isn’t there huge anticipation before the penalties, great drama during them, and polar opposite euphoria/devastation after them, and isn’t that what sport is all about?
We expect a winner and a loser at the end of a championship contest, and isn’t there something so anti-climactic about a draw and the prospect of a replay when that applies?
A lot of GAA competitions fold back doors and losers’ rounds into themselves as if no one wants to eliminate any team from a competition. It seems bizarre to say the least.
The pandemic and a squeezing of the calendar has necessitated ‘winners on the day’ and if that means penalties then so be it.
Yes, it was hard on St Brendans to lose in such fashion, but wasn’t the spectacle of nine penalties into the Town end not worth every penny of your entrance fee?
We suggested via Twitter on Sunday evening that David Moran looked primed to captain Kerry in 2022 for much, if not all, of the season. We caveated our comment with the obvious proviso that if Stacks win the final they will, of course, get to nominate the Kerry captain, and that will probably fall to Joseph O’Connor, their only player in with Kerry in 2021 and presuming he is still there next year. Same goes for Moran, we suppose?
The notion that Moran will be Kerry’s on-field captain next year is no slight on Stacks - they could very well beat Strand Road on Sunday week. But even if Jack O’Connor calls in a few other Rockies ahead of the 2022 season, it’s less likely that any new comer will see much game time in the Championship.
That said, we’re not dismissing the chance of, same someone like Dylan Casey, forcing his way into the Kerry team by next May or June, or, indeed, of Joe O’Connor being a preferred midfield starter to Moran. The Kerry captaincy never fails to create talking points.
We haven’t caught sight of Diarmuid Murphy or Micheal Quirke at a county championship game so far, though Kerry’s new selectors are sure to have been watching from some vantage point. More conspicuous at games in Stack Park has been Jack O’Connor, and last Saturday he was joined by Paddy Tally, Kerry’s new football coach.
So, who would have most impressed the Tyrone native, given his liking for a tenacious tackler and touch-tight marker?
Stacks’ full-back Dylan Casey has been one of the most impressive defenders right through the competition, and his colleague Jack O’Shea has hardly put a foot wrong either.
Andrew Barry has been one of the most consistently good half backs, and might be worth a recall to the Kerry scene a few years after being in there.
Conor Jordan (Stacks) and Cormac Coffey (O’Rahillys) have been solid and have youth on their side.
And goalkeeper of the championship so far? Could Wayne Guthrie do something for Kerry?
So where do we stand on the pyrotechnics and smoke flares routinely let off by the Stacks’ supporters on the terrace?
We know there are some who take a dim view of it, be it as a safety concern, or the short-lived inconvenience of the smoke they create, or even, dare we say, because it’s too much like ‘that soccer crowd’.
For this observer it adds a bit or atmosphere and colour to the occasion, especially the night-time games when the flares light up the night with a great vibrancy.
Yes, the smoking tumbling down the terrace can obstruct the view for some spectators, but it clears within a minute or two and the game moves on.
A more persistent use of such flares would be bothersome, but for those three or four minutes don’t they bring a bit of fun to what can be otherwise pretty dull November days?
With the terrace singing, the general colour and the flares, few can match the Rockies for creating an atmosphere. Over to you, Strand Road, to get up to speed!
Despite having an extra 20 minutes to officiate in his semi-final, Eddie Walsh had the slightly less onerous job of the two referees, if only that Stacks and St Brendans didn’t engage in the off the ball stuff to the extent that Crokes and O’Rahillys did.
Walsh is a very fine, authoritative referee, who clearly communicates what he is whistling for, but if we have a small quibble it is that he can be too pernickity on very borderline fouls.
Less so Walsh’s fault on Saturday than his umpires, but we’d question Wayne Guthrie’s positioning on the goal line for Ivan Parker’s penalty in the shoot-out.
Brendan Griffin had plenty of off the ball stuff to deal with on Sunday in the second half. His linesmen were active in their assistance to him, and isn’t that what we want and expect from them. Six eyes are better than two, surely?
As for the county final: Walsh and Griffin couldn’t get it after being involved in the penultimate stage, so the man in the middle on Sunday week will be Jonathan Griffin. The Glenbeigh/Glencar club man is another of the county’s very best referees – authoritative, decisive, always up with the play, and an official who will have the respect of the players. A derby of this nature could get spiky, but let’s hope the narrative after the final isn't about the man in black.
This isn’t meant as a personal criticism of anyone (we haven’t a clue of the individuals concerned) but more of an observation on Sunday that didn’t go unnoticed by almost everyone in the main stand.
Just before the second water break Dr Crokes goalkeeper Shane Murphy took a very heavy fall under a challenge and lay motionless on the ground as his team mates clearly displayed serious concern for their team mates and beckoned for medical help.
It took a few seconds for two paramedics sitting in the stand to rouse themselves and then they proceeded to walk towards Murphy - at the Mitchels goal - at a very slow pace. Even when they got to the player, who was being attended by the Crokes’ medic, their intervention appeared minimal.
The night before Diarmuid O’Connor suffered a serious injury for St Brendans, and while attended to by the team staff, there was no intervention from the people in the red uniforms.
What is the purpose of these medical people - yes, volunteers - at matches if they don’t assist with serious looking injuries?