Quarter Final Weekend (Where one-third of the games were worth watching)

Note – I copied this here from http://marklawrensonmustbestopped.blogspot.ie/ which I now dedicate to soccer.  All my GAA and Donegal posts now go on here.

And so we now know who is for real and who are merely pretenders. 2 of the 3 Quarter-Finals were decided last weekend in nothing short of emphatic fashion. I have plenty to say on Donegal v Cork, but I want to review the tape and will in time devote a whole column to the sorry mismatch that was Sunday’s first Quarter-Final. In the meantime, there is much to consider from the other games played at the weekend.

I predicted that Tyrone would beat Kildare easily enough and that Kildare were ‘massively overrated’. I guess Sunday proved me wrong, even if I did pick the winner. But, you couldn’t help be impressed by Tyrone’s response to a 4 point half-time deficit. The blitz of Kildare carried out in the 15-20 minutes after half-time was simply awesome to watch-every ball fiercely contested; all 15 players getting involved; snappy, intelligent passing andsome clinical shooting. Still, when all was said and done, Kildare were a kick of the ball away from winning the game-Tyrone really need to watch themselves in this regard-recall that Armagh could have won their Ulster Championship even though Tyrone were clearly the better team over 70 minutes. I get the impression that Tyrone are playing within themselves this year-they are aware that Kerry are gunning for them now more than ever before, and will need gas in the tank for that challenge, assuming they can get past Cork in an attractive semi-final. And not for one minute am I taking that as a foregone conclusion-but you would have to agree that a Tyrone/Kerry match-up would make for a most intriguing September 20th.

Kildare certainly looked the best loser of the Quarter-Finals played to date-but I can’t help think back to the fact that they couldn’t beat 14 man Dublin in the Leinster Final-what does that say about them given Dublin’s display against Kerry? Hard to know I suppose. Kildare made Tyrone beat them on Sunday-and their disappointment in defeat shows that they have set the bar pretty high-not surprising given who is manning the sidelines. As I read elsewhere, one thing that might be worrying is that their 2 best players on Sunday (and in general this year) were Dermot Earley and John Doyle-neither of whom are getting any younger. Still, you would have to believe that Kieran McGeeney thinks that there is enough talent in the county to compete in the future given his public commitment to Kildare for the next few years. Promotion from Divison 2 and a Leinster title would be a good start on providing concrete evidence that they are the real deal.

If nothing else, Dublin’s hammering by Kerry took some of the attention of Donegal’s display against Cork. However, in the greater scheme of things, that is really neither here nor there. Both teams have pretty serious fundamental issues that will need to be addressed if they are to progress beyond the Quarter Final stage. I already wrote that the same players who had failed Dublin in the past would not be good enough to take them to the next level this year. And so it came to pass-Cullen substituted, Keaney anonymous, Whelan unable to make a difference when he was introduced, and so on. You really have to question the manager’s decision-making/team selection-why on earth leave Ciaran Whelan on the bench when he is fit enough to start only to have to bring him on because your starting pair are so poor (against both Kildare and Kerry)? Not that it really matters I guess-given I don’t think the guy is good enough any more anyway, but it’s still a worrying sign. Dublin need more to introduce more new faces next year, but they also need more intensity-bullying inferior Leinster teams is no match for facing the likes of Kerry and Tyrone.

I have to admit, I was impressed with Ciaran Whelan’s interview on ‘Off The Ball‘ this evening. He gave an honest assessment of both Sunday’s game and of the problems facing Dublin football. For someone frequently portrayed as a thug on the pitch, he is quite well spoken-if this is to be his last season on the intercounty scence, perhaps we could see him on a couch somwhere next year, preferably ahead of the Cork flyweight, Tony Davis, or even Bernard Flynn (if he is still around?).

I’ll tackle the Donegal game next. I’m still looking for words for that piece.

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