content zone archives
"speak out!" archives
vote on it
Sat 11-Jun-2005 17:11
More from this writer..
Press Box Lad
How To Recognise The Weakest Link
A good way to begin your search for the above would be to have been in Croke Park on either of the last two Sundays…
That might seem a bit harsh considering some the exciting fare served up, particularly by Dublin and Meath, but I think a shrewder analysis will prove that it was just a case of evenly matched, if average, sides coming together guarantees exciting fair.
The one thing that did become obvious to the this hack over the course of the last fortnight is just how far the standard of football in Leinster is behind the other three provinces at present.
Offaly fell foul of their own profligacy against Laois. The men from the Faithful County had enough possession to have dispatched Laois ten times over. And they then suffered the same sucker punch that befalls most sides that don’t make use of possession when they have it as Ross Munnelly staged a classic smash and grab raid.
The wayward shooting which dogged Kevin Kilmurray’s side all day was all too apparent after Colm Quinn was hastily substituted and Niall McNamee was unable to convert a chance that would have ensured victory for them. Though the importance freetaking can have in a game is something which I will come back to later.
Now, results may be the most important thing in championship action but I can’t feeling that Mick O’Dwyer will be slightly uneasy about the level of performance of his side. Were it not for Munnelly, the Laois attack looked extremely rudderless while their defence obviously needs work because, as I said earlier, the Offaly forwards had enough ball to have won the game ten times over and against a less wasteful team Laois could be in trouble.
Unfortunately, Munnelly’s magic was where the it ended for that Sunday. Yes, the meeting of Kildare and Westmeath was exciting but that excitement was generated more so by the somewhat physical approach taken by both sides and the very officious nature of the refereeing employed by Michael Daly. Indeed, in calling it officious it would also be neglecting to say that it was sadly as inconsistent as most refereeing seems to be nowadays.
Kildare’s Ronan Sweeney, was, in my view, dismissed for very little, and the second yellow card issued to him typified the style of refereeing Daly employed as the game was held up far too often over petty decisions. And here’s where the inconsistency comes in, neither Daly or any of his six fellow officials managed to see Dessie Dolan being struck off the ball. Such cases only add to the need for the introduction of a Television Match Official to assist or even possibly replace umpires. This is something I will return to later however.
Earlier, I bemoaned the lack of magic in some of the earlier games, but, if one really wants to know where the magic is in Leinster football, look no further than Meath and Dublin. Ever since the draw was made last October the possibility of a meeting of these two had stuck out like a sore thumb. And at the time I remember opining that I wouldn’t matter what the form of either side was like in the lead-up to the game, that there would still only be a kick of the ball between the sides, and that’s exactly how it panned out.
Making his first championship start in two years, Graham Geraghty was always bound to hit the headlines and achieved this before a ball was even kicked taking to the field sporting a Mohican haircut and white boots. Though by the end of the near seventy five minutes it was the guy’s footballing genius that had the laptops and cell phones buzzing.
He was absolutely awesome. Scoring some of the finest scores ever seen in the great stadium as Meath made the lightning start that I felt they needed to if they were to have any chance. And he was ably supported by outstanding newcomers Kevin Reilly, Stephen Bray and Brian Farrell as Meath a surprising but richly deserved two point lead into the break.
The wheels came off the Meath wagon somewhat in the second period, thanks, I believe, to two factors I touched on earlier. Firstly, was John Bannon’s blatant inconsistency. Ciaran Whelan should have received a red card in the first half minute but got away with yellow, Geraghty himself was lucky not to face trouble following a hefty clash with Conall Keaney while Paul Casey also struck Darren Fay and the referee chose to blow for half time rather than take any action after booking Niall Kelly for something very similar.
Yet he still managed to book Geraghty afterwards for very little, as if by way of trying to cover up his own error, and still managed to miss the most serious incident of all as Anthony Moyles appeared to walk on Whelan. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if cases arise from some of the incidents on the strength of video evidence and if that facility was available on the day it could save both time and hassle.
The other thing I touched on earlier was how Offaly’s lack of a suitable freetaker had cost them dearly and unusually this was a rock Meath also perished on last Sunday.
I say unusually because Meath are used to having dead ball specialists of the calibre of Brian Stafford and Trevor Giles, yet when Joe Sheridan was having an off day nobody else was tried. I wouldn’t have seen a problem with letting Brian Farrell have a go from the hands and the failure to try somebody different proved very costly as the three chances from placed balls that were fluffed were the difference between winning and losing a game.
This leads me on to my final point, one I hoped and wished I would never have to make. It must be said that the Meath management must take a bit of the blame for the side’s downfall. The decision to withdraw Niall Kelly was mind boggling as was the failure to make other changes in attack or to do anything about the place kicking.
It was also fairly obviously that Meath faded badly in midfield and that, as in 2002, Alan Brogan was having the better of his tussle with Mark O’Reilly and nothing was done in either case.
So, what did we learn over the past two weeks? That Leinster football has a bit of catching up to do with the rest and that despite all my complaints there may be still hope for Meath. In some quarters they were expected to take a hiding but it was great to see the old spirit back. Though whether they, or Dublin for that matter, are capable of making a long term impact is another thing.
*The Meath team wore black armbands as a mark of respect to those who were killed in the Kentstown bus tragedy and this column is dedicated to their memory. Leaba i measc naomh na Mí go raibh acu ar fad
‘We talk just like lions, but we sacrifice like lambs…’.
Whatever Happened to….
Anyone you know in your club?
Bin Tags Don't Make a County
‘Some a’ Dem’ Lads are only Dow-en for the Showers….’
Heavenly Hurling: How the Gods pass their time...
GAA Time and Real Time
Saint Patrick and the camogie princesses
Keats and Chapman at the Munster Final
Mass, the Mater, ‘The Dergvale’ and Mullingar…
More "Content Zone" Topics >>
More "Speak Out!" Topics >>
There are 10,277 members signed up to anfearrua.com
All times are Dublin, Ireland.
Always here... with the best in GAA discussion and comment!
© An Fear Rua, 2000 - 2013
Make AFR your home page
[ Top of Page ]