Monday 23 October 2017

Five things we learned in the GAA this weekend

Donegal's Colm McFadden in action against Daniel McCartan
Donegal's Colm McFadden in action against Daniel McCartan
Cormac Byrne

Cormac Byrne

Donegal and Dublin ahead of the bunch

Facile wins for Donegal in Ballybofey and Dublin in Killarney see them perched on a pedestal as the best two teams in the country at the minute.

Given that they are five or six weeks behind the rest of the country in terms of preparation, Donegal’s intense display against Down on Saturday night bodes well for the remainder of their 2013 campaign.

The five point winning margin flattered a decent Down side and in Michael Murphy they possess the most potent attacking force in Gaelic football (24 points in his last three games for college and county).

It’s early days in the tenure of Jim Gavin but Dublin are already looking like a renewed force under his leadership.

They dismantled Kerry with ruthless efficiency yesterday with superior technical ability and strength.

Bernard Brogan is rediscovering his best form and Paddy Andrew now showing the strength to match his laser-like accuracy in front of goals.

Kilcormac-Killoughey’s exploits keep us believing in fairytales

In the modern GAA era very few teams come from complete obscurity to dazzle us but the Offaly champions have.

In the space of a year this young team has won it’s first ever Offaly title, Leinster title and are now preparing for an All-Ireland decider.

in the Leinster decider they were rank outsiders to beat Oulart-the-Ballagh, who had beaten Kilkenny powerhouses Ballyhale, and on Saturday few gave them any chance of victory over Thurles Sarsfield’s.

With the likes of Pa Bourke, Lar Corbett and Padraic Maher in the opposition ranks the Offaly champions were massive underdogs but thundered into the tackles and took their scores when needed.

Their display reaffirmed the old saying that ‘it’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog’.

Games can be lost but not won in the first half

There were a very large number of come-from-behind victories in league action this weekend.

Derry, Wesmeath, Limerick, Clare, Kildare and Donegal all turned around half-time deficits to win with the All-Ireland champions and Mick O’Dwyer’s Clare the only side doing so without scoring a three-pointer.

Of the team who led at half time to win, Cavan, Dublin and Meath were all six points up at the break.

Tyrone needed a last-gasp penalty to beat Mayo and goals in either half saw Waterford to victory over Tipperary in the weekend’s other fixtures.

We don’t have to wait for Munster championship for high quality hurling drama

Anyone fortunate enough to be in Parnell Park on Saturday evening or smart enough to have tuned into TG4 at the same time got a rich springtime treat.

Most hurling fanatics would lead you to believe that the hurling year doesn’t begin until the white heat of the Munster championship but in fact it happened last Saturday evening.

After a great match between Kilcormac-Killoughey and Thurles Sarsfield’s in Portlaoise, GAA fans were treated to a classic at Parnell Park between St Thomas of Galway and reigning All-Ireland champions Loughgiel Shamrocks.

Both sides had courage equal to desire, Conor Cooney’s sublime scores from sideline cuts were worth the admission fee alone and the passion and skill levels were through the roof.

In a game that had everything perhaps it was apt that Adam Watson’s goal with the last puck of the game meant that neither side lost and  the rest of us can hope for more of the same in the replay.

The GAA saga will always capture the imagination

Ordinarily an All-Ireland club JFC semi-final would go largely unnoticed but Kenmare’s titanic struggle with Castleknock over 220 minutes meant the fixture had the GAA world talking.

Replays are commonplace, but second replays are rare and are testament to the equal talents of both sides.

It was nice to see the fixture moved to Croke Park so that the saga’s final chapter could be played out on the biggest stage of all.

Even though not many of us experienced any of the 220 minutes of drama it was a nice reminder of the summer of 1991 when Dublin and Meath’s four game saga gripped us or the drama of the three games it took to separate Kildare and Meath in 1997.

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