Three Things we learned from the GAA this weekend
Today’s three things looks at the importance of Michael Murphy to Donegal, a referee losing the run of himself and the complete disregard for football in Kilkenny.
Murphy essential to Donegal progression
Wayne Rooney once famously announced his return to the England dressing room from injury with the phrase ‘The big man is back’ and while we doubt the modest Michael Murphy did something similar in Ballybofey yesterday, nobody would have batted an eyelid if he did.
Such is his importance to the current Donegal team, something he demonstrated within ten seconds yesterday when he found the net for a goal which was to prove crucial in the defeat of reigning champions Cork.
It being Donegal, it was hardly surprising that it was a low-scoring affair, in fact, Murphy’s personal tally of 1-3 was the equivalent of the entire Cork total. If Jim McGuinness is to persist with the ultra defensive tactics that served him so well last season, then he needs his talisman to provide an outlet at the edge of the square when Donegal find their way into the opposition half.
As he showed yesterday and has showed countless times in the past, that is where Donegal's own 'big man' is most effective and not foraging for breaks around the middle of the park, where Donegal have plenty of other willing volunteers ready to put in the dirty work.
Referees losing the run of themselves
It’s traditional at this time of year to pay attention to the performance of referees. With rustiness and poor conditions leading to more mistakes and the men in black generally under instruction to apply the rules with a greater stringency than usual, early season league games are often stop/start affairs and can be incredibly frustrating to watch.
Pity the poor souls in Wexford Park yesterday then, who had to watch referee Brian O’Shea dish out 15 yellow cards, three red cards and blow for 64 fouls in total, more than one every minute. According to a tweet by Shane Brophy, Head of Sport at the Nenagh Guardian, it wasn’t even a dirty game and was the “worst refereeing display” he has ever seen, sentiments that were echoed by Wexford’s Aindreas Doyle, who retweeted the comment.
With all that whistle-blowing, there couldn’t have been any sort of flow to the game, but credit to players from both sides who still managed to score 3-38 between them. More credit to Wexford though, who scored 2-20 and won by 15 points.
Kilkenny should stick to the hurling
No doubt there were a few chuckles raised at the manner of the Kilkenny footballers’ defeat to Fermanagh yesterday, but it’s far from a laughing matter for those involved with the big ball in the Marble County.
The players that turned out deserve some sympathy, but surely it’s time for the powers that be to question whether it’s worth the hassle turning out a football team at all. The shocking state of football in Kilkenny has come to light because of two defeats for the under-21 and the senior side in a matter of days by a combined total of 96 points, but it’s been the way all season and in seasons past as well.
Kilkenny have played three games in Division Four of the National League so far which they have lost by a total of 95 points. They’ve conceded 12-69 in total and have only managed to score a paltry 1-7 at the other end. What good can that possibly be for the unfortunate lads who have to be subjected to such humiliation week after week?
The disregard for football in Kilkenny has been obvious for a long, long time and rather than just omitting a team from the Leinster Championship, why not just pull the plug altogether? We’re sure there are a lot of good football people in the county willing to soldier on, but on the other hand, there are probably plenty of others who would be glad to be rid of football for good so that hurling could be the sole focus of attention. In light of the past week’s events, maybe that’s the way it should be.