Joe Brolly hit the headlines on Saturday evening after his comments about Sean Cavanagh, Sean Cremin looks at this and other talking points from the weekend’s GAA action.
It has been a growing problem in the G.A.A for a long time and the debates surrounding cynical play almost reached boiling point in RTÉ studios on Saturday night as Joe Brolly voiced his opinions on Sean Cavanagh and Tyrone. I found it similar to his RTÉ compatriot, Eamon Dunphy, in that his point was legitimate but he went overboard in terms of being too blunt and it came across as a personal attack on both parties.
The cynical play is not nice viewing but as the general consensus has been, while it is frowned upon, any player would have done the same thing as Cavanagh if they had been presented with the same scenario. It’s the rules and the punishment that need to be addressed. Similar to our soccer counterparts, denying a clear goal-scoring opportunity with a professional foul should result in a straight red card.
Other obvious cynical play maybe could be rewarded with a score-able free with distance from goal depending and the area in which the foul is committed. The black card is due to be introduced from next season and hopefully it will make a difference. As Ciarán Whelan said on The Sunday Game, the G.A.A is a slow moving organisation and it takes time to implement change. The black card is the first attempt at a solution to curb cynicism and hopefully it will help to put a stop to it.
Kerry’s defensive system
Despite the continuous change to football in recent years with many teams adopting very defensive systems successfully, Kerry have always stuck to their principals. They are a traditional footballing county who have voiced many concerns about the lack of fundamental skills being used in the modern game. They are connoisseurs of kick passing and moving the ball quickly and no matter how much the game has developed Kerry have continued to be purists.
The game against Cavan saw Kerry play a defensive game which was a surprise to many. They flooded men behind the ball at times when most expected them to just overpower Cavan with their superior skill. Eamon Fitzmaurice has locked the gates at Fitzgerald Stadium and training is no longer open to spectators. We wondered if he had a trick up his sleeve and we saw something totally different in their performance against Cavan.
Personally I think Kerry were just preparing for a scenario of coming up against a blanket defence later in the championship. Now that they face Dublin I think we will see Kerry revert back to the traditional style. This clash makes for a classic semi-final if both teams simply go for it and play football like they can. I’d be surprised if Kerry were to play defensive again this year unless they were to face Tyrone, another defensive side.
Dublin’s inability to take their goal chances
It was the only real flaw in Dublin’s performance. They were a superior team to Cork but they allowed Cork to be competitive in a game where Dublin could have been out of sight. They should have five or six goals and other teams will make them pay if they fail to start converting these chances.
Jack McCaffrey showed his forwards how it was done with an excellent finish. It wasn’t the only time he was in a goal scoring position. He had two other chances and others like Michael Daragh MacAuley, Diarmuid Connolly and Bernard Brogan will need to start finishing these chances or they need to start taking better options in front of goal.
They should be credited for creating so many goal chances. Their attacking play, particularly their pace is allowing for openings. When in position, it is easy to get selfish but on a few occasions a simple hand-pass would have given a teammate an easy tap in. It’s just something the Dubs need to work on.
The end of the road for Cork footballers
Conor Counihan confirmed that he was stepping down from his six year reign as Cork manager and I personally think it is the end of an era for this particular group. They have had a good run under Counihan but the time definitely seems right for a new regime. Many Cork players look to be passed their sell by date and a new approach is needed.
He did a good job. He led the team to All-Ireland success in 2010 and they were well up there with the best teams in the country during his time in charge. He also won four consecutive league titles from 2009-2012 which was another fine achievement. Cork may have underachieved in terms of All-Ireland titles but Counihans regime should definitely be looked as a success.
I think it will be a popular job around the Rebel county, with people like John Cleary and Brian Cuthbert being touted as possible replacements. Cork have had a good run at underage and if I had one criticism of Counihan I think these players should have been introduced earlier. I think too much time was given to the likes of Graham Canty, Paudie Kissane and Alan O’Connor. Cork need a fresh start and I think they can definitely be competitive again very soon.
Is this Mayo’s year?
This is the biggest question of all. Can Mayo finally win the Sam Maguire Cup? They were so impressive in their emphatic win over Donegal but winning quarter-finals and semi-finals has never really been a problem for Mayo. They have caused many an upset and each time an upset has occurred the famous quotes of ‘this is our year’ or ‘it is set up for us to win it’ get thrown about. Now these statements have more substance than ever.
Mayo were awesome against Donegal. They displayed all the traits of All-Ireland winners. Players like Aidan O’Shea, Lee Keegan, Donal Vaughan, Keith Higgins, Cillian O’Connor, Ansy Moran and Alan Dillon look like match winning players on top form. They held no fear of Donegal, they took the game to them, blitzed them from the off and dished out a very heavy beating. As a statement of intent, it was a big as I have seen but they must now maintain this.
I do think there is something different about this Mayo side. They look so much mentally stronger than previous sides. I felt that they did not receive enough credit for their All-Ireland final performance last year. I thought they were the closest team to Donegal in 2012 and they have the potential to go one further in 2013. That is now their challenge. Nothing but Sam Maguire will do for Mayo. They have been instilled as bookmakers favourites for the All-Ireland and I think this is Mayo’s year. We will have to see.
Boylesports have cut Mayo into 11/8 from 7/2 to win the 2013 All-Ireland Football Championship after an impressive display against 2012 All-Ireland champions Donegal.
Dublin who edged past Cork, remain 13/8 second favourites whilst their semi-final opponents Kerry, who recorded a six point win over Cavan, are priced at 4/1 with Boylesports.
Tyrone are the 8/1 outsiders with Mickey Harte’s side facing a tough semi-final against James Horan’s Mayo men.
James Horan “We were strong and hungry today, the two early goals really helped. We won most the one on one battles today. We are looking forward to Tyrone in the semi-final.”
Sundays All-Ireland Senior Football Championship quarter-finals
Kerry 0-15 0-09 Cavan, Croke Park FT
Mayo 4-17 1-10 Donegal, Croke Park FT