Tuesday 25 June 2019

Five talking points from the GAA action over the weekend

Dublin’s players jump for joy after Sean Moran’s late goal earns them a draw with Wexford. Photo: Sportsfile
Dublin’s players jump for joy after Sean Moran’s late goal earns them a draw with Wexford. Photo: Sportsfile

John Morley

It was a bumper weekend of GAA action with plenty of drama in both codes. The Leinster and Munster championships served up enthralling encounters in hurling, with the Ulster football quarter-finals epitomising all that is good about local derbies.

Dublin coming of age?

The hurling served up a feast of high-scoring encounters, with arguably the most interesting taking place in Parnell Park as Mattie Kenny's Dublin took on Davy Fitzgerald's Wexford.

After Wexford came back from the brink it looked like Dublin were doomed to lose another big Leinster match that they had controlled throughout, just like last week's opening round match against Kilkenny.

But the Dubs never gave up and a late Sean Moran goal at the death secured a dramatic draw, giving Dublin what could be a vital point on the Leinster championship table.

Offaly in free fall

Another weekend out for the Offaly hurlers and another loss in the Joe McDonagh Cup. After a disappointing narrow loss in the opening weekend, Offaly suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of neighbours Westmeath.

The second successive loss puts Offaly hurling at risk of dropping down from the Leinster championship to the Christy Ring competition in consecutive years.

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With Antrim and Kerry ahead of the Faithful county, relegation looks like a very real and fast approaching finish for the traditional hurling powerhouse of Leinster hurling.

Ulster's competitiveness and evolution

The Ulster football championship produced some truly dynamic local derbies over the weekend as Cavan triumphed over Monaghan and Armagh squeezed past a dogged Down challenge in an extra-time epic.

The province has been held in high esteem as the most competitive in football but this weekend that was due to the teams with the most vibrant attacking plan rather than the most flooded defence.

Cavan showed that they have evolved to break down and unlock a blanket defence, while Armagh introduced themselves with an explosive display against a gutsy fourteen-man Down. The likes of Rian O'Neill, Jamie Clarke, Stefan Campbell and Andrew Mernin give them a classy touch up front that few teams can match.

Limerick far from last year's heights

Yes there is the argument that they were caught a bit cold against a brilliant Cork performance, but the Treaty's second-half collapse leaves big question marks over their ambitions in this year's championship.

Outscored by 1-14 to 0-8, John Kiely's men looked lost for ideas up front. The Cork sweeper and work ethic of their backs shut them down. With much of their scores coming from within the easy scoring area, it begs the question how well they will do against the more structured defensive teams like Waterford.

In the last quarter they asked questions of Cork when they ran at them and, but for poor decision making, should have put a few goals past Anthony Nash. However, it was too late by this stage in the game as Cork had sat back to defend their lead.

Refereeing clamp down on 'High tackles'

In the Down game we saw the first victim in the GAA's restriction of the high tackles in the form of a first-half straight red card for Caolan Mooney after shouldering Armagh's Aidan Nugent in the head.

Mooney was going in for a shoulder on Nugent at high speed when the Armagh man side stepped him, resulting in the shoulder challenge meeting Nugent in the face.

The controversial red has called into question the extent that intent matters for red cards, with Kevin McStay saying that the card was justified for 'dangerous play' on The Sunday Game.

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