GAA Review: Hammerings, fairytales and redemption on an epic weekend
From one-sided maulings to close encounters of the GAA kind, it was some weekend in the Gaelic football championship.
Where do you even start with a weekend like that? Four provincial semi-finals and eight qualifiers meant that we had a feast of football to enjoy over three days and the games covered every possibility from the wide world of GAA.
First off we had some tremendous hammerings. Nobody really enjoys seeing one team destroy another, even if the team you support is the one handing out the beating. At Croke Park yesterday, the Hill broke into song a few times but as they pulled further and further away from a sorry Kildare at HQ, even the baying blue wall seemed to feel sorry for Kieran McGeeney’s men.
The 4-16 to 1-9 scoreline doesn’t even really demonstrate sufficiently just how one sided this game was and afterwards McGeeney described it as the hardest defeat he’s suffered in management. After racing into a 1-2 to 0-0 lead after five minutes, it as one-way traffic from that point. Kildare are not a bad team, but they were unable to cope with the power and pace of Dublin and in truth, Jim Gavin’s men could have scored eight or nine goals.
Dublin will have tougher days, much tougher days, and Kildare will have better days, much better days, but the win shows that the gap between the best team in Leinster (Dublin) and the second (Kildare) is of Grand Canyon proportions.
The other semi-final, between the third and fourth best teams in the province, was a closer affair but it was played at a much lower intensity. Wexford and Meath showed us some lovely football at times but the ultimate difference was the free-taking of Meath’s Michael Newman. He popped over 0-9 while Ben Brosnan struggled for Wexford and the momentum shifted away from the Model in the second half as the frees kept the Royal scoreboard ticking over. Meath deserved to win but it is hard to see their very pleasing style of football getting much change out of Dublin, and defensively they could be in very big trouble indeed in the Leinster final.
In Ulster, the third provincial semi-final of the weekend wasn’t as good to watch as the fare at HQ as Monaghan prevailed past a young Cavan team that will learn from that one-point defeat on Saturday night. It sets up a third Ulster final in six seasons for Monaghan, some achievement considering just how tough that province is.
Arguably the game of the weekend was in the Connacht provincial semi as Leitrim and London met again in Roscommon. An extraordinary game saw London race into a monster half-time lead (2-10 to 0-2) before an epic comeback fell just one point short (2-11 to 1-13). An incredible summer for London continues, and they will play Mayo in the Connacht final, easily the story of the GAA summer despite some very heavy competition.
As for the Qualifiers, there were some awful beating doled out by Longford, Armagh and, most viciously, Tyrone, and Derry dispatched Sligo, and Kevin Walsh, in a clinical 70 minutes in Owenbeg.
Laois won the first ever Friday night game against Carlow, Louth proved they are decent by beating Antrim and Galway won a Qualifier, a remarkably rare event for the Tribesmen.
But the performance of the Qualifiers has to go to Fermanagh. Derided after a very poor show against Cavan, they scored 3-10 against Westmeath and but for a ridiculous tally of 20 wides, they would have dished out a Dublin-esque beating to a team who will be playing in Division 1 next term. Hats off to Peter Canavan, some of that playing magic has transferred to management and he deserves kudos after the stick he took earlier in the summer.
With so many games up for decision, it really was a bumper weekend for eircom’s Win,Lose or Draw game too. We’d be amazed if anyone pulled off the perfect 12 out of 12 but if you want to see just how eircom’s ambassadors like Mickey Harte (the only one who picked London) or Ciaran Whelan (the only one who picked Meath) did, then check out their selections in our Friday preview here. We managed seven out of 12 with our picks, so we have nothing to brag about.
To play the game and be in with a shot to win tickets, signed merchandise and tickets to the All-Ireland final, then just click here.