One-sided affairs a cause for concern
WHILE the All-Ireland hurling championships are providing the most exciting season for years, their football counterparts are in urgent need of a competitive boost after an extended series of one-sided games.
The average winning margin in the four provincial campaigns, plus the first round of the All-Ireland qualifiers, stands at 10.2 points, ranging from a remarkable high of 17.5 in Munster to a low of 3.8 in Ulster.
Connacht has averaged 11.2 and Leinster 7.8, while the opening eight qualifiers averaged 10.8.
While the dominance of Cork and Kerry over their Munster rivals is nothing new, the 'Big Two' won by record combined margins this year.
There will also be concern in Leinster and Connacht over the number of one-sided games.
Dublin recorded 16-point wins over Westmeath and Kildare in their first two outings.
Earlier, Westmeath beat Carlow by 11 points, while Carlow lost to Laois by 11 points in the qualifiers last Friday, further underlining the variation in standards in the province.
Two other Leinster counties – Offaly and Wicklow – suffered huge defeats in the qualifiers, with the former losing to Tyrone by 22 points and the latter going down to Armagh by 25 points.
Wicklow scored a measly 0-2 in the Athletic Grounds, the lowest total in the championship.
Connacht has been bitten by the lop-sided bug too, with Mayo beating Galway and Roscommon by a total of 29 points.
This average winning margin at this stage of the season across the entire championship is up three points on last year.
Ulster continues to be by far the most competitive province, with the seven games to date producing average winning margins of 3.8 points.
Over the past five years, Ulster have averaged 4.4, compared with 7.6 in Leinster, 10.1 in Munster and 9.7 in Connacht.
The margins in the first round of the qualifiers were up considerably on previous years.