Sunday 22 April 2018

League semi-final defeats a bad omen

Rory Gallagher (SPORTSFILE)
Rory Gallagher (SPORTSFILE)
Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

For a second successive year, Donegal have malfunctioned in a League semi-final and downplayed it as being largely irrelevant.

"Don't get me wrong. We wanted to perform better than we did. But there wasn't the same tactical focus as you would do for another game," said manager Rory Gallagher last Sunday.

It was similar to last year when Donegal, usually the masters of miserly defence, conceded 4-11 to Cork, the same points total as last Sunday when Dublin hit them for 1-20.

Losing League semi-finals by any margin - let alone by 10 points - has never been a pointer towards an All-Ireland win five months later.

The stats show that only four (Tyrone 2005, Kerry 2000, Meath 1999 and Cork 1990) of the last 50 losing League semi-finalists went on to win the All-Ireland.

It's not exactly encouraging for Donegal or Roscommon, although in the latter's case they're not yet seen as serious All-Ireland contenders anyway.

Donegal are and they would have boosted their case if they hadn't checked out mentally and physically once Dublin turned up the pressure last Sunday.

Why should the League matter so much more to Dublin than to Donegal, who have won it only once before?

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